Accused Sex Traffickers Plead Not Guilty In Bowie County


TEXARKANA, Texas–Four men accused of operating a commercial sex operation involving more than a dozen women in the Texarkana area recently pleaded not guilty to the continuous trafficking of persons.

If convicted of continuous trafficking, Rashaan Cunningham, 45, aka “Fashion,” Ryan Layne, 47, and brothers Marcus Lanell Palmer, 37, and Brandon Everett Palmer, 39, face 25 to 99 years or life in a Texas prison. Cunningham and Brandon Palmer are also facing charges of aggravated sexual assault which are punishable by five to 99 years or life if there is a finding of guilt.

All four of the accused men appeared last week for arraignment on the continuous trafficking charges at separate hearings before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Court records show that all four defendants entered pleas of not guilty. Brandon Palmer and Cunningham previously pleaded not guilty to aggravated sexual assault charges.

The men allegedly used threats, drugs and physical violence to control the women they sold. Cunningham and brothers Marcus Palmer and Brandon Palmer allegedly worked together to find and traffic women. Layne was an allegedly loyal customer who regularly paid Cunningham and the Palmer brothers for sex with a number of the trafficking victims.

Cunningham allegedly used social media sites to distribute drugs, recruit women as sex workers and to advertise to men wanting to purchase sex. The last four digits of his phone number allegedly spell PIMP. Cunningham’s social media site allegedly includes graphic photos of women identified as trafficking victims including allegedly referring to one woman’s body as a “piggy bank” while referring to another’s as an “ATM,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

He and Brandon Palmer were indicted earlier this year for aggravated sexual assault for allegedly raping a woman identified in court records as Victim 8, after she was dropped off at a Texarkana, Texas, house by Marcus Palmer. The woman reported that she believes her drink was mixed with some sort of drug and alleged that Brandom Palmer and Cunningham took turns holding her down and sexually assaulting her.

All four men are scheduled to return to court in January for pretrial hearings.

Brandon Palmer is being held in the Bowie County jail with bonds totaling $350,000. Marcus Palmer is being held in the Bowie County jail with a $250,000 bond. Cunningham is being held with bonds totaling $450,000 and Layne is currently free on bonds totaling $95,000.

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