Police: Ad on escort website leads to human trafficking arrest

Police: Ad on escort website leads to human trafficking arrest
Zachary Westley Smith was arrested this week in connection with a human trafficking case by Jonesboro police. (Source: Craighead Co. Sheriff's Office)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A Craighead County man faces human trafficking and a child porn-related charge after a victim told police the man used physical violence to force her and other females to engage in sex for money with random men at area hotels.

Zachary Westley Smith of Jonesboro was arrested on May 10 after an investigation by the Jonesboro Police Department’s Hi-Tech Crimes Unit.

According to a probable cause affidavit, police got word about an advertisement on a known escort website that showed nude photos of a juvenile female from Jonesboro.

Officers later spoke with the juvenile and got permission to search her cell phones.

During the search, police said they found messages from someone named “Ziggy."

“In the messages, the victim asked the suspect if he had pictures of her face on the escort website, to which the suspect answered he did not,” the affidavit noted.

However, police say that less than an hour later, the same ad was re-posted but the pictures showing the girl’s face were removed.

Police later identified “Ziggy” as Smith due to a social media profile and interviewed the victim about the situation.

“She confirmed Smith’s identity and stated that the photos in the ad depicted her and were taken by Ziggy several months prior,” the affidavit said. “She also stated that Ziggy used physical violence to force her and other local females to engage in sex acts for money with random men at local hotels and that Ziggy takes all the money that is obtained for the act. She stated that Ziggy is always armed with, what is believed to be, a 9mm handgun and that he physically assaults the females if they don’t agree to commit the sex acts."

Smith was arrested on suspicion of trafficking of persons and distributing/possessing/viewing matter depicting sexual conduct involving a child.

A $250,000 bond was set for Smith, who will be arraigned June 28 in circuit court.

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