Alaska State Troopers say two California men are being held on nearly a dozen charges each in Fairbanks for their roles in "an alleged statewide prostitution operation."
Troopers announced the Feb. 19 indictment of 37-year-old Concord, California, resident Kendale Standifer and 34-year-old Jamal Williams of Antioch, California, by an Anchorage grand jury in a Wednesday dispatch. Each man faces a total of nine counts of sex trafficking, as well as one count each of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping.
The first hints of the case came earlier this month, when a trooper based in Cantwell stopped the men -- and two female companions -- after they were pulled over for speeding on the Parks Highway Feb. 7. The trooper considered the men suspicious, alerting AST's Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit and Statewide Crime Investigation Unit.
"On Feb. 11, Fairbanks police contacted Standifer and Williams regarding a rental vehicle that was reported stolen after it was not returned to the rental company as anticipated," troopers wrote. "Fairbanks police smelled an odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle and noticed Standifer had a large sum of money and seven to 10 phones in his possession. Based on this information, the SDEU was asked to respond."
Troopers said in the dispatch that the women, ages 19 and 20, reported that they were being "pimped out" by Standifer and Williams. Troopers obtained a search warrant for an Anchorage storage unit rented by Standifer, where they seized an estimated $280,000 in drugs on Feb. 12.
"Other search warrants served by drug investigators during the course of the investigation uncovered many items associated with sex trafficking including over $10,000 in cash, multiple cellphones, ledgers with clients names and phone numbers, and numerous documents on money laundering," troopers wrote. "Additional drug charges are forthcoming."
In a bail memorandum for Standifer and Williams, Assistant Attorney General Adam Alexander with the state Office of Special Prosecutions said the men had been driving a silver Chevrolet Suburban rented from an Avis office during both traffic stops. The women weren't with the men during the Fairbanks stop, but investigators seized several key cards from the men for local hotel rooms -- one of which led them to the younger victim.
"(The 19-year-old victim) stated that she had been trafficked by Standifer and Williams for approximately one year, after meeting Standifer in Anchorage after moving to the city from her home community in rural Alaska," Alexander wrote. "(She) stated that she was advertised on the website Backpage.com, and that all the money she earned went to Standifer and Williams."
Investigators were later able to speak with the 20-year-old victim, who said she had fled from the hotel to rejoin her family.
"(The 20-year-old victim) stated that at the end of December 2015, her then-boyfriend had sold her to Standifer for one gram of heroin," Alexander wrote. "(She) was told by her boyfriend that Standifer was going to give her a ride from Kenai to Big Lake. Instead, Standifer took (her) to a hotel in Anchorage where he provided her with narcotics, forced her to strip, and sexually assaulted her."
The 20-year-old told investigators that she was kept dosed on narcotics by the men, who expected her to make $1,000 a day or be beaten. Her account was corroborated by the 19-year-old, who told troopers she had seen Standifer punch the other woman in the face.
According to the 20-year-old, Standifer and Williams would post Backpage.com advertisements for the women's services, listing one of their "burner" cellphones as a contact. The men took turns acting as "security" at the hotel rooms where the women were prostituted, to prevent their escape.
"For the period she was staying in Fairbanks, (the 20-year-old victim) subsisted primarily off Ritz crackers and lemonade in her room because she was not allowed to leave," Alexander wrote.
Along with the drugs in the storage unit -- which included more than 60 grams of methamphetamine and 30 grams of cocaine, as well as hundreds of narcotics pills and 8 ounces of fentanyl -- troopers found purchase receipts for the cellphones whose numbers were listed in Backpage.com advertisements for the women.
One of the women told troopers the men, whom Alexander said had "extensive out-of-state criminal history" including drug and weapons offenses, were also planning to leave Alaska.
"Standifer told (the 20-year-old victim) that they would soon be leaving Fairbanks for California because 'cops can't hit a moving target,'" Alexander wrote.
Troopers credited numerous federal agencies, ranging from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration to the IRS and U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler's office in Anchorage, with assisting in the case.
Standifer and Williams are being held without bail at the Fairbanks jail.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing