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An investigation that started in April with a phone call from a mother in New York and a knock on the door of an Everett neighborhood home has led to the arrest of a man accused of trafficking a 17-year-old girl, police say.

Devin L. Ashford was charged Tuesday with sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography.

Lincoln police went to his home April 9 after a woman reported that her adult daughter had called to say she was being trafficked out of a home near 11th and A streets, Investigator Benjamin Pflanz said in a police report.

Officers knocked on the door and spoke to Ashford and the daughter, who denied anyone was being trafficked, Pflanz said.

Just over a month later, police arrested a woman in a prostitution sting and got search warrants for the cellphones she had, the investigator said. On the phones, officers found a photo of a 17-year-old girl that had been sent to several men with text messages advertising her, the report said.

Investigators later found the girl, who had been reported missing, and interviewed her.

She told investigators that she'd been contacted on the social media app Snapchat by someone using the account name "Deuce," whom she identified as Ashford. The girl said she then met with Ashford and the other woman, and that he told her to "auction" herself and have sex with men for money.

She said she went on dates and performed sex acts for money, which went to Ashford, Pflanz said. Messages exchanged between the two on Snapchat showed them discussing money and dates, the investigator said.

"Police did a review of Devin's social media accounts and found he had been recruiting both adults and juveniles to engage in prostitution," Pflanz said.

In their investigation, police also found sexually explicit images of a 17-year-old girl on Ashford's Facebook account that investigators say he asked for along with "evidence" that he was recruiting her to work for him.

Police arrested Ashford on Friday.

A judge on Tuesday set his bond at $250,000 and appointed the Lancaster County Public Defender's Office to represent him. Ashford remained in jail late Tuesday.

If convicted as charged, he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

Reporter

Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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