A St. Joseph truck driver has been charged with child sex trafficking for taking a minor girl to Texas for prostitution, Kansas City federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Tony Eugene Wardlow, 54, could face a mandatory life sentence because of his 1997 convictions in Nodaway County for endangering the welfare of a child and sexual misconduct with a 12-year-old boy five years earlier.
A Kansas City grand jury returned a sealed indictment March 13 charging Wardlow with commercial sex trafficking of a child, enticement of a minor and transportation of a minor for prostitution. The charges were unsealed with Wardlow’s first appearance in court Wednesday.
He also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a crime to which he previously pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced to 46 months in March 2003.
A second truck driver, Thomas Farrell, 48, of DeKalb, Mo., also was charged in the current case. Farrell faces counts of enticement for prostitution and transportation for prostitution with no allegations of child exploitation.
Prosecutors declined to say anything about the child victim, other than to acknowledge that she is receiving “protection, treatment and support” from nonprofit partners of the office’s Human Trafficking Rescue Project.
Court records do not disclose many details about the alleged crimes, other than the defendants transported the girl to Texas for prostitution between August and late September 2011.
A motion asking that Wardlow be jailed pending trial alleged that he had “repeated sexual intercourse” with the victim and “injured her on multiple occasions.”
Prosecutors also alleged that Wardlow threatened the girl’s life to prevent her from speaking with authorities.
“Specifically, Wardlow would point out rivers as he transported the minor victim across the country and tell her if she ever told law enforcement, he would dump her body in those rivers,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Daly wrote in the detention motion.
Wardlow purportedly told the girl no one would care about her death because she was a “black prostitute,” court records alleged.