Missoula sex trafficker sentenced to 30 years in prison
BILLINGS - The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Terrance Tyrell Edwards was sentenced to 360 months in prison, lifetime supervised release, and a $1,000 special assessment. Edwards was also ordered to pay $3,370 in restitution to one of his victims. U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided over the hearing.
A jury convicted Edwards in February of three counts of Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion; three counts of Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Prostitution; one count of Obstruction of a Sex Trafficking Investigation; one count of Transportation of a Person with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity; one count of Distribution of Marijuana to Person Under 21 Years of Age; and one count of Tampering with a Witness, Victim, or Informant. The jury also convicted co-defendant Francine “Joanna” Granados of one count of Tampering with a Witness, Victim, or Informant.
Beginning in March of 2016, shortly after he was released from prison on prostitution charges, Edwards began forcing his first female victim in this case to engage in commercial sex in Missoula, Montana. Edwards physically and emotionally abused her and threatened her life and the lives of her family members. Shortly after this victim escaped, Edwards transported another victim from Missoula to Billings and forced her to work in commercial sex. Edwards sexually assaulted her and threatened her with violence if she ever spoke about what they had done in Billings. In September of 2016, Edwards forced a third victim to engage in commercial sex in Missoula. Edwards transported this victim throughout the state of Montana and to Utah, where he forced her to walk the street for commercial sex customers. Edwards physically assaulted her, emotionally abused her, and threatened her and her child. Edwards kept all of the money from the commercial sex encounters.
Also in September of 2016, Edwards transported three minor girls from North Dakota to Montana to work in commercial sex. On their way to Billings, Edwards supplied them with marijuana. Edwards was arrested in Billings shortly after arriving with the girls.
Immediately after Edwards was arrested, he and co-defendant Granados began trying to influence the testimony of various victims. In recorded jail calls, Edwards and Granados discussed how Granados would reach out to one of the minor victim’s family members and how Granados had used a relative’s Facebook account to communicate directly with that minor victim. Edwards himself contacted a different minor victim in an attempt to prevent her from cooperating with law enforcement. Despite warnings from the FBI that she was witness tampering, Granados, at Edwards’s direction, also sent multiple Facebook messages to one of Edwards’s sex trafficking victims attempting to coerce her to recant her statements to law enforcement. In its sentencing memorandum filed with the Court, the United States Attorney’s Office noted Edwards’s extensive criminal history, including a prior conviction for promotion of prostitution, and seriousness of the offenses for which he was convicted here.
Also today Granados was sentenced to 24 months, 3 supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. As noted above, she assisted Edwards in attempting to tamper with multiple witnesses in connection with the investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zeno Baucus and Cyndee Peterson and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Montana Department of Criminal Investigations, the Missoula Police Department, and the Billings Police Department.
(Editor’s note: A Polson woman was one of Edwards’ victims. She used a phone Edwards had given her to call clients to call her family in Polson who alerted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The woman’s location was determined and she was rescued by authorities after an 11-day ordeal.)