PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal jury in Portland found a local man guilty today for transporting two young teen girls across state lines, drugging and sexually abusing them, and selling them to other grown men for sex.
Johnl Jackson, 34, of Vancouver, Washington, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking; three counts of sex trafficking of a child; two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and three counts of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.
“Trafficking in human lives is a despicable crime, here made worse by Johnl Jackson’s exploitation of young women for profit” said Scott Erik Asphaug, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Sex trafficking minors has a profoundly negative impact on survivors and their loved ones. I want to thank the brave women who agreed to step out of the shadows to testify against their abuser and hope that this experience offers them closure and a path to a new and better life. Our office will continue to prioritize all trafficking cases and do everything in our power to prevent further victimization.”
“Johnl Jackson preyed upon vulnerable youth. He used violence, drugs and manipulation to control these young teenage girls,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The agents and officers on the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force are committed to finding and helping victims of human trafficking, to protect them from further abuse, and to keep their traffickers from hurting anyone else.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, in 2016, Jackson met and befriended Keonte Desmond Scott, 23, also of Vancouver, after Scott’s release from prison. Jackson sold Scott cocaine and eventually began coaching him in commercial sex trafficking. In late 2016, Scott met and began a relationship with Jackson’s future co-defendant and fellow Vancouver resident Diana Petrovic, 23. Jackson helped Scott traffic Petrovic, showing him how to post online prostitution ads and, at times, posting the ads himself on Scott’s behalf. Scott paid Jackson for the ads and purchased drugs from him using a portion of Petrovic’s prostitution earnings. Soon, Jackson and Scott began using Petrovic to recruit and traffic other minor females.
By early 2019, several minors reported to law enforcement that they had been trafficked by Scott and Petrovic. During the ensuing investigation, authorities learned of two teen girls, then 14- and 15-years-old, respectively, who together had run away from their homes in Lane County, Oregon and were introduced to Scott and Petrovic at a mall in Vancouver, Washington. Petrovic took the girls to a home the girls believed was Jackson’s and gave them drugs and alcohol. Scott and Petrovic told the girls they would take them to an upscale party, but, instead, took them to a location in Portland where they were sold for sex. Eventually, the girls separated themselves from Scott and Petrovic, spent the night elsewhere, and were driven back home by one of the girl’s mothers the next day.
By the summer of 2018, Scott returned to prison and Petrovic began working directly with Jackson. Petrovic maintained contact with one of the girls from Lane County over social media and repeatedly asked her to return to Portland. Petrovic eventually convinced the girl to meet and, in late August 2018, Jackson, Petrovic, and another adult woman drove to Eugene to pick her up. When the group arrived, the girl was accompanied by a 15-year-old friend. On the drive back to Portland, Jackson gave both girls drugs. At some point during the drive, Jackson gave Petrovic money to buy the girls new clothing and underwear.
The group took the girls to Vancouver where they were given more drugs and, at some point, stopped at a house to resupply on cocaine. Inside the house, they sent one of the girls back to a room to engage in sexual acts with the drug supplier in exchange for the drugs and money. Later, a person believed to be Jackson’s uncle notified the group of potential prostitution customers gathering at an auto shop in Battle Ground, Washington. Petrovic and Jackson took the girls to the auto shop and offered them for sex, but the men gathering appeared uninterested and so the group returned to the Vancouver house. Back at the Vancouver house, Jackson and Petrovic engaged in sex acts with the girls, who were now heavily intoxicated.
The group eventually returned to the Battle Ground gathering where one of the girls was forced to have sex with an adult man. Jackson and Petrovic warned the girls to say they were 19 years old to avoid getting them in trouble for trafficking children. Throughout the evening, the girls were not allowed to sit without being harassed by Petrovic and Jackson about needing to make more money. When one of the girls protested, Petrovic slapped her. Later in the evening, one of the girls escaped with a man who she convinced to intervene on her behalf. Petrovic convinced the other girl that her friend had betrayed her by leaving.
Jackson and Petrovic took the remaining girl to a hotel near Portland International Airport where they spent the night. The next day, they took her to a residence in Northeast Portland where she was forced to have sex with one man for $300 and forcibly raped by another. One day while Jackson and Petrovic were sleeping in their hotel room, the girl managed to escape and was rescued several hours later by her grandfather.
On May 8, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Scott, Petrovic, and an accomplice with sex trafficking of children and transporting minors with intent to engage in sexual activity.
On October 9, 2019, in a separate criminal case, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a three-count indictment charging Jackson and Petrovic with sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud, and coercion; sex trafficking of a child; and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity. Later, on December 4, 2019, Jackson and Petrovic were charged by superseding indictment with conspiring to engage in sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking of a child; sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud, and coercion; and transporting a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity. Jackson was additionally charged with illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, but the charge was dismissed before trial.
On July 22, 2020, Petrovic was charged by criminal information with distributing a controlled to a person under 21 and pleaded guilty, resolving both of her criminal cases. She will be sentenced on April 3, 2023.
On December 9, 2021, Scott pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking. He will be sentenced on April 13, 2022.
Jackson faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He will be sentenced on June 6, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.
U.S. Attorney Asphaug and Special Agent in Charge Ramsey made the announcement.
This case was investigated by FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) with assistance from the Tigard Police Department and Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ashley Cadotte and Pamela Paaso with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly Zusman, Suzanne Miles, and Thomas Ratcliffe, and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Glen Ujifusa.
The FBI CETF conducts sexual exploitation investigations, many of them undercover, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. CETF is committed to locating and arresting those who prey on children as well as recovering and assisting victims of sex trafficking and child exploitation.
If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 911. If you are a human trafficking victim or have information about a potential human trafficking situation, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or by texting 233733. Calls and texts are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Human trafficking is a serious federal crime where individuals are compelled by force, fraud, or coercion to engage in commercial sex, labor, or domestic servitude against their will. Traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause unimaginable harm. In January 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland launched a new national strategy to combat human trafficking that aims to prevent all forms of trafficking, prosecute trafficking cases, and support trafficking victims and survivors.