A Boston man is accused of sex trafficking women out of a tent at Massachusetts Avenue and Melna Cass Boulevard, the troubled area of the city known as Mass and Cass.
Jonathan Vaughan, 35, was indicted on three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, two counts of transportation of an individual for purposes of prostitution and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. He ie scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston on Monday.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, between June 2019 and October 2021 Vaughan allegedly recruited and trafficked at least three victims and forced them to work as prostitutes. Vaughan is accused of bringing two of the victims over state lines for this purpose.
He was arrested on state charges on Oct. 13, 2021. At the time, prosecutors say he had 15 bags of cocaine on him intended for distribution.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
“Vaughan is alleged to have used violence, threats, and drugs to coerce and control women, profiting financially by forcing them to perform sexual services for a fee and making it extremely difficult to escape,” said Matthew Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston Field Office.
The suspect, who prosecutors say allegedly called himself "Ason the Pimp," is accused of using physical and sexual violence against his victims
Prosecutors said Vaughan used a tent at Mass and Cass as a hub to sell drugs and to recruit and traffick women. He found victims around Mass and Cass, Downtown Crossing and on the internet, prosecutors allege.
Vaughan would allegedly allow his victims to stay in the tent and bring "dates" back as long as he received payment for the commercial sex acts his victims were involved in, prosecutors said. He is also accused of bringing his victims to hotels in other places including Chelsea, Saugus, and the Cape as well as Queens and Manhattan, New York.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu made it a priority to clear out the area known as Mass and Cass in an effort to improve safety, but groups of people are still gathering months after dozens of temporary shelters were removed because of health concerns about drugs and homelessness.
It was not immediately clear if Vaughan has an attorney.
The investigation is ongoing and authorities are looking for more victims. If you think you may be a victim of this crime, you can contact USAMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov.
Resources for those impacted by commercial sex trafficking are available at polarisproject.org.