Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart, announced Wednesday in a press release that Becca Mills, 25, of Whispering Pines, and Johnny Thomas, 34, of Durham, have been charged in a criminal complaint for their roles in alleged child sex trafficking and coercion and enticement of minors in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina.
According to court records, Thomas and Mills posted commercial sex ads for minors and took the minors to locations in Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, where the minors engaged in commercial sexual encounters with other individuals. Mills also participated in many of the sexual encounters, and Thomas engaged in sexual acts with one of the minors on at least two occasions in Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach.
Court records also reflect that Mills told one of the minors that if the minor did what she was told, Thomas would not hurt her. According to the complaint, Thomas told one of the minors numerous times that if she did not perform commercial sex acts, he would sell her to someone worse who would chain her up to a bed, shoot her full of heroin, and do bad things to her such as slice off her toes and body parts.
Both defendants face a maximum penalty of life.
The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Rockingham Police Department, and the Myrtle Beach Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Lauren Hummel and Special Assistant United States Attorney Scott Hixson are prosecuting the case. The case was originally prosecuted by the Solicitor’s Office for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit and will be federally prosecuted as part of a collaborative effort by federal and state partners in the Myrtle Beach area to combat sex trafficking and child exploitation.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Acting United States Attorney DeHart stated that all charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
If you or someone you know may have information relevant to this investigation, please call the HSI Tipline at 1-866-347-3423.
Photo: Becca Mills and Johnny Thomas. Photos via Myrtle Beach Police Department and J. Reuben Long Detention Center.