FRESNO - A federal grand jury indicted a Visalia man on three counts of sex trafficking Thursday.

Tyrell Richmond, 31, of Visalia, is charged with three counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to the criminal complaint, the FBI’s Fresno Child Exploitation Task Force and members of the Fresno Police Department’s Vice Unit conducted undercover operations June 21 targeting prostitutes who appeared to be underage. During the investigation, they detained three 16-year-old girls, all of whom were runaways, at a motel in Fresno.

Further investigation revealed that Richmond had allegedly prostituted the girls for about one week, first in Visalia and then in Fresno. The girls were required to turn over to Richmond all money they earned and were not permitted to leave the motel room, other than to get ice, Wagner said.

Richmond is in federal custody. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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