In August 2018, a father and his adult son drove from Reno, Nevada, to San Diego, with the intention of picking up a young woman and her 16-year-old sister to work for them as prostitutes.
What the two men didn't know was that the supposed young woman on the other end of their messages was actually an undercover San Diego Sheriff's deputy from a local human trafficking task force.
Then, the undercover San Diego investigators soon learned the father and son were also the subjects of a nearly identical undercover investigation by investigators in Napa County.
During their trip to San Diego, the son told an undercover Napa Special Investigations Bureau agent — who was posing as a 16-year-old girl — that he would pick her up in Napa after getting the sisters, prosecutors say. Evidence presented during the trial showed that they talked about performing sex acts for money and the $1,500 fee that the teenager would need to pay to work for him.
On Monday, a federal jury convicted Conoly Freddie Franklin and his son, Andre Anthony Franklin, on one count each of attempted enticement of a minor. The charge carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence and a maximum of life in prison.
The jury also convicted the elder Franklin of attempted enticement of an adult, a charge with a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
According to the San Diego-area U.S. Attorney's Office, evidence presented in trial showed that Conoly Franklin made contact with the undercover deputy in San Diego on Aug. 22, 2018, and continued messaging the deputy until just before he and his son were arrest Aug. 31.
The elder Franklin believed he was a recruiting a young woman and her 16-year-old sister to work for him and his son in Reno.
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After officers from the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force arrested the pair, they learned that during the trip to San Diego, the younger Andre Franklin had been communicating with the undercover deputy from the Napa County Special Investigations Bureau.
Prosecutors said evidence presented in trial included text messages between Colony and Andre Franklin, and between the men and the undercover deputies, showing they knew their targets were underage girls.
Court records show that the NSIB agent first reached out to Andre Franklin over text message on Aug. 30. At one point in the conversation, Franklin asked the undercover officer whether they were law enforcement.
"Anything we want or need should never be too much," Franklin wrote. "We could accomplish Watever in this lifestyle" [sic].
"You a trophy," he wrote. "You a go getter" [sic].
U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. said in a statement that "the cavalier sex trafficking of children triggers traumas that can affect victims for decades" and thanked investigators for thwarting the pair's "devious plans."
Sentencing in front of U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes is set for September.