To prosecutors, she was central to a massive sex-trafficking network, an organizer who once transported a minor from Maine to California to have her engage in prostitution.
But a defense lawyer called Jacquelyn R. Lungelow a victim herself, who was controlled by the same violent pimp who prosecutors have described in court records.
“You can see she was afraid he was going to kill her, and she’s still afraid of him,” her lawyer, Mark W. Shea, told US Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein.
The two contrasting views of Lungelow, of Jamaica Plain, were presented during a detention hearing in federal court in Boston Friday to determine whether the 26-year-old woman should be released on bail pending a sex trafficking trial.
Dein indicated that she will release Lungelow to the custody of her mother, possibly with the requirement that she wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The judge continued the hearing until Tuesday so that she could better analyze Lungelow’s possible living conditions.
Lungelow was named in a 17-count indictment last week charging five people with running an interstate sex trafficking operation, mostly from Maine to Boston. She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison on the charge she transported a minor to California. Authorities in Los Angeles found the minor in a hotel room after responding to an advertisement offering sex for a fee.
Lungelow also allegedly rented hotels in Rhode Island that would be used for the sex trafficking operation, prosecutors said.
The alleged leader of the ring is Raymond Jeffries, who goes by the rap name Skame Dollarz, a 26-year-old who lists addresses in Boston and Portland. Authorities say he and other pimps traded prostitutes and transported them from state to state to offer them for sex for a fee. The pimps would advertise the services on websites and take the women to hotel rooms.
Jeffries faces a minimum of 15 years in prison on some charges. Authorities also charged Corey Norris, 23, of Boston; Kairis Sanchez, 19, of Boston; and John Kanda, 21, of Maine.
Federal prosecutors have focused their efforts in recent years on criminals who have turned to sex trafficking operations, finding it less likely that they would be arrested.
There is also less competition than in the drug trade, and it can be a lucrative business, according to an account by Stacy Fleischman, special agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit.
“Sex trafficking is the fastest-growing industry in organized crime,” Fleischman wrote in an affidavit, adding that “law enforcement has only just begun to catch up to the magnitude of the problem.”
A Malden man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl. David Minasian, 25, faces 13 to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is slated to be sentenced in October.
Also, Michael Gemma, 30, of Dorchester was found guilty by a federal jury Tuesday of sex trafficking a 16-year-old girl. He is to be sentenced in September and faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Lungelow allegedly played the role of a coordinator in Jeffries’ organization. Authorities alleged she was a former prostitute who had a romantic relationship with Jeffries and had a child with him.
In more recent years, once she learned the operation, her status was elevated so that she would recruit prostitutes, advertise their services, and coordinate hotel plans.
“She was actively involved, not just as a prostitute,” said Assistant US Attorney Amy H. Burkart, adding that the role “really is integral to the sex trafficking operation.”
“She has the capacity to commit these crimes on her own,” Burkart said.
But Shea said that Lungelow was very much subjected to the same punishment and control that Jeffries allegedly handed out to the prostitutes, and he had more control once they had a child together.
Lungelow tried to end her relationship with Jeffries in 2013 and obtained a restraining order against him, Shea said. Jeffries was arrested for violating the order last year.
“This guy used everyone,” Shea said.