Edited from Multiple Sources

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -  A federal judge in Corpus Christi has issued a guilty verdict against a 25-year-old Corpus Christi resident on charges of sex trafficking of a child, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.


The one-day trial occurred Dec. 14, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. The court returned its verdict late yesterday against Marcus Anthony Tunchez.


During trial, U.S. District Judge heard about a joint investigation targeting gang members in the Corpus Christi area involved in narcotics trafficking and the sex trafficking of children. Tunchez was one of those identified as a member of the Mexican Mafia gang involved in both methamphetamine distribution and sex trafficking. 


In May 2017, Tunchez began selling methamphetamine to an undercover officer and said he acted as a pimp to several young women. Tunchez explained he created and posted advertisements on a commercial sex website for the young women who then gave half the proceeds from their commercial sex acts to Tunchez.  


In September 2017, Tunchez met with the undercover officer for the purpose of sex trafficking a child he believed was a 14-year-old girl. Tunchez expected to meet the child and transport her to a hotel where she would engage in a commercial sex act. Tunchez expected to receive 20 percent of the proceeds. He was taken into custody upon his arrival at the designated meeting place.


At trial, he attempted to convince the court that he intended to rob the undercover officer and not commit a sex trafficking crime.


Judge Ramos did not believe his claims and found him guilty as charged.


On Dec. 7, 2017, Tunchez entered a guilty plea on the narcotics charges and an unrelated gun charge before Judge Ramos.


Sentencing will be set at a later date. At that hearing, Tunchez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Tunchez also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which time the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children. He also faces up to 40 years for the drug charges as well as another 10 years for the firearms offense.


Tunchez was arrested on federal charges in September 2017 and has been in custody since that time where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Corpus Christi Police Department - Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez is prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."