Man gets 17 years in prison for kidnapping woman, forcing her into sex work

By Emily Van de Riet

MANCHESTER, Md. (Gray News) - A Maryland man was sentenced to 17 years in prison Friday for kidnapping a woman and leading a sex trafficking conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

The DOJ said Joshua Lankford, 33, used violence and drugs to control a young woman and planned to kill her to keep her from testifying at trial.

According to court documents, Lankford led and organized a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force. Evidence indicated that Lankford kidnapped the victim, a young adult woman, to engage in forced prostitution.

Lankford knew the victim was addicted to heroin and withheld drugs from her until she made him enough money by engaging in sex work, the DOJ said.

When the woman tried to escape, Lankford and three others drove the victim to a rural area where they beat, whipped and choked her with a belt, court documents show. They then drove her to a hotel in Delaware to force her to engage in more prostitution.

Documents show that while in jail, Lankford told a co-conspirator that he intended to kill the woman to prevent her from testifying against them at trial.

“Joshua Lankford’s crimes were nothing short of horrific; he kidnapped and victimized a vulnerable woman then plotted to kill her in order to save himself,” said Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of HSI Baltimore. “The atrocities of his crimes are clearly reflected in the severity of his sentence, and today, he will begin to pay his debt to society.”

In addition to his 17-year prison sentence, Lankford was given five years of supervised released and a $2,320 fine.

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