October 2, 2014
A man charged with running a nationwide sex trafficking ring that used Backpage.com to solicit customers will be detained pending trial.
U.S. District Judge James Gritzner rejected Johnelle Bell's request for release Monday. Bell's lawyer had argued he poses no safety threat, but Gritzner rejected that claim.
He says the case against the New Jersey man "appears supported by substantial evidence," which shows Bell traveled widely and had a propensity for violence.
Gritzner says no conditions of release "would provide adequate assurance for the safety of the community" and guarantee Bell's appearance in court.
Prosecutors say Bell was a pimp who used coercion to force women to act as sex workers.
He's been jailed in Council Bluffs but is seeking a transfer to Des Moines, citing harassment from other inmates.