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John Myers, Forum News Service, Published September 13 2013

Federal jury convicts Duluth man of sex trafficking

DULUTH - A Duluth man was found guilty Thursday of sex trafficking a teenager for nearly seven months at motels in Duluth, the Twin Cities and the Chicago area.

Markeace Arque Canty, 33, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child and one count of sex trafficking of a child. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the jury acquitted Canty of one count of receipt of child pornography.

Canty, also known as Quake, was indicted on the charges on May 7.

Canty faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison on each of the sex trafficking counts with a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years on the sex trafficking of a child count. United States District Judge Joan N. Ericksen will determine his sentence at a future hearing not yet scheduled.

According to the indictment and the evidence presented at trial, Canty recruited and transported the 17-year-old female victim, from at least July 2012 through January 2013, to engage in commercial sex acts from which Canty benefitted financially.

Canty purchased “escort” advertisements on the website known as backpage.com and transported the female victim to locations in Duluth, Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere to meet advertisement responders at motels, where the victim engaged in sexual acts in exchange for money.

The jury heard evidence that on Sept. 12, 2012, law enforcement in Indiana responded to an advertisement listing a phone number registered to Canty, and arrested the female victim after she agreed to perform sex acts in exchange for money.

Evidence was also presented about results of a search of Canty’s cell phone, which included texts that the prosecution argued coordinated times and amounts with people who responded to the advertisements, as well as texts that the prosecution argued were between Canty and the victim in which she updated him on her illicit activities.

The case involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Duluth Police Department with cooperation from the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, the Fargo and Grand Forks police departments, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office, the Eau Claire, Wis., police department, and the Porter County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Calhoun-Lopez and LeeAnn K. Bell.