A former Marine from Jacksonville, N.C., was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison for the sex trafficking of hundreds of women over nearly two decades.
Jesse Gabriel Marks, 38, pleaded guilty last September to charges of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in a May 7 release.
He was sentenced May 7 to 360 months in prison and must pay $249,700 in restitution to several victims, the release states.
The Justice Department said that for almost 20 years, Marks prostituted hundreds of women, including at least one minor, and used heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs to keep them dependent on him and engaged in prostitution.
Many of the women either developed drug addictions or fell further into addiction after meeting Marks, the DOJ said. This ruined their health and, for some, their lives, according to the release.
Marks physically and emotionally abused many of his victims and sometimes drugged them without their full knowledge, the DOJ said. He sometimes sexually assaulted the women when they were fully or nearly unconscious, recording many assaults on video, it added.
In an email Friday, Eastern District of North Carolina spokesman Don Connelly said that many of Marks' clients were members of the military, and that he also sold drugs to Marines. The evidence, Connelly said, showed Marks used his Marine experience to teach the women he was prostituting how to better target Marines.
Connelly said that this case began as a drug-dealing investigation. A Marine was caught with drugs that he bought from Marks, Connelly said, and the Marine told officials Marks was his source.
The drugs Marks dealt included cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, according to Connelly.
Chris Little, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent who helped lead the investigation, "spoke at sentencing about how Marks' crimes undermined morale and readiness by luring young soldiers into drugs and prostitution," Connelly said.
The details on the military connections of Marks' victims and client base were first reported by Marine Corps Times.
Connelly said Marks confessed to prostituting more than 200 victims, but one witness said it was closer to 600.
The Onslow County Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Police Department and NCIS investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the Justice Department. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is located in Jacksonville.
Marks' service with the Marines was brief and undistinguished. He joined the service in April 2000 and separated in October 2002, not even completing his first enlistment, according to information from his personnel file released by the Marine Corps.
He was still an E-1, the lowest enlisted rank, when he separated. His date of rank is listed as occurring in March 2002, nearly two years after he joined the Marines.
"Marks' premature discharge and rank at time of separation are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps' expectations and standards," Maj. Jorge Hernandez said in an email Friday.
Marks had no deployments listed in his record. He was an 0311 rifleman, whose last duty assignment was with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, at Camp Lejeune. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.