(Des Moines, IA) -- A Des Moines man's been sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking. Forty-six-year-old Marlin Santana Thomas pleaded guilty to sex trafficking six adults and a 14-year-old victim, over the past decade. Investigators say Thomas targeted women living at residential drug treatment centers. He admitted using physical violence and coercion against the victims.
U-S District Court Chief Judge John A. Jarvey sentenced Thomas to life in prison for sex trafficking six victims by force, fraud, and coercion. Thomas has also been ordered to pay $600 to the Crime Victims’ Fund. A restitution hearing will be February 7, 2022.
Thomas was arrested as part of a separate drug investigation and is currently serving time in federal prison.
At sentencing a Des Moines Police Department Sergeant testified that he had interviewed an additional 11 women who Thomas had raped, attempted to sex traffic, and/or physical assaulted.
Thomas admitted using physical violence against all six adult victims to coerce them to engage in commercial sex acts, including punching one victim in the face and assaulting another after she told Thomas she was done working for him. Thomas admitted to knowing one victim was a heroin addict and used her addiction to coerce her into engaging in commercial sex acts. Thomas also admitted to arranging for a 14-year-old to engage in commercial sex acts, knowing that she was not yet 18 years old. Thomas admitted to posting online 2 escort advertisements of victims transporting them to hotels and motels in Iowa as well as Illinois, Missouri, and North Dakota, and keeping the proceeds from the commercial sex acts.
Police testified that Thomas assaulted, raped, and stalked victims.
When imposing sentence, Chief Judge Jarvey characterized Thomas’s crimes as depraved, stating that Thomas had treated humans like currency. He also found Thomas had engaged in serial rape and was a highly dangerous individual. He further noted that Thomas had not expressed any remorse for his crimes or the victims.