Judge hits human trafficker with three life terms

RALEIGH – A Smithfield man was sentenced Wednesday to consecutive life sentences for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion and of a minor; sex trafficking by force fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of a minor; using the Internet to promote a prostitution business enterprise ; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 

On March 1, 2021, Jenkins had been convicted of those crimes by a jury after a five-day trial. Jenkins was also ordered to pay restitution in an amount of at least $418,361.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Jonathan Lynn Jenkins, aka ‘Max,’ 48, and his co-conspirator prostituted many women between November 2014 and October 2015, including minors.

The victims were young, vulnerable, and often struggling to survive. After luring the victims with promises of food, shelter, and a better life, Jenkins and his co-conspirator manipulated and controlled the victim’s lives, isolating them, withholding food, and keeping all money the victims earned. 

The defendant beat and choked the victims, sometimes to unconsciousness. He emotionally and psychologically abused them. Among other threats, he claimed to have magical powers that allowed him to hunt down victims and kill them. He sexually assaulted victims and forced them into sexual acts against their will. And he attempted to murder a man who helped one victim escape.

Before imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III.  described Jenkins as “an extraordinarily dangerous human being” and his crimes as a “form of modern-day slavery.”

Jenkins was convicted of second-degree murder in North Carolina state court in 2006, and first-degree murder charges are pending against him in state court in Johnston County, North Carolina.