Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
Adonis Baker, also known as “Albuquerque Big,” came to the attention of law enforcement in February 2016.
In the 18 months since then, authorities conducted multiple undercover operations and requested search warrants and subpoenas before arresting him on federal sex-trafficking charges last month.
A recently unsealed search warrant affidavit filed in federal court lays out a picture of him forcing at least five women and a teenager to work for him as prostitutes, transporting them from Albuquerque to Phoenix to Colorado Springs. He would beat them and use heroin to ensure their cooperation, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Baker’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Baker, 32, is charged with forcing five adults and one teenager to engage in prostitution, and his friend, Leotha Williams, 56, is charged with forcing one adult to engage in prostitution.
But one woman told agents that at one point “20 other girls” were being held in the same hotel where she was kept.
Earlier this year, sex trafficking made headlines in a case involving an Albuquerque couple who police say may have hired a man to kill two people, including a 20-year-old woman who they had working for them as a prostitute. The pair have not been charged in the deaths but they have been charged with several counts of sex trafficking, and, according to court documents, they kept the woman locked in a dog crate in a hotel room.
In Baker’s case, one woman, identified in the affidavit as V.A., told a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations that she first met Baker in the summer of 2015 and refused to work for him.
Several days later, she said, he and two others picked her up on Central and drove her to Phoenix.
There they beat her and held her head under water in the bathtub until she agreed to work as a prostitute and give them the money she made, according to the affidavit. She said they injected her with heroin while she was asleep and soon she was addicted to the drug.
V.A., who had no prior arrests for drugs or prostitution, told agents she ended up working for Baker in Albuquerque for the next nine months. She said she was among five sex-trafficking victims whose photos were posted on Backpage.com and who were made to walk up and down Central looking for “Johns” and other women to recruit.
“During her employ with him, he physically abused her on multiple occasions and she witnessed him physically abusing other victims as well,” the agent wrote in the affidavit. “Baker broke one of the other victim’s wrists.”
Eventually V.A. and a couple of other victims managed to escape, according to the affidavit.
Multiple other women told the agent similar stories about being drugged and beaten and forced to work as prostitutes while Baker took their earnings.
One woman told agents she met Baker one night in Albuquerque “while smoking a blunt” and the next thing she remembered was “waking up in Colorado Springs.” There she said she was forced to have sex with men for money while Baker and a man she knew as “Silk” gave her heroin to keep her compliant.
And in August 2017, a detective with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office told agents about a 16-year-old girl who said a man, later identified as Baker, and a woman tried to force her to work for them, according to the affidavit.
The girl said she met the pair in Phoenix and they offered her drugs before locking her in a car and driving her to Albuquerque. There, she said, they told her she could earn money to return home by working for them as a prostitute.
The girl called her brother for help and police arrived. They took her to a juvenile detention center where she was interviewed by the detective.
A month later, agents staked out Baker’s Southeast Albuquerque apartment. They said they saw at least five women and other suspected sex-trafficking victims coming and going with Baker and watched him take a couple of women to different hotels.
Baker was arrested on a federal warrant on Sept. 26.
Williams was arrested in Little Rock, Ark., around the same time and will be extradited to New Mexico.