Feds break up Central PA-Florida prostitution ring, four charged

09 June 2023- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that four individuals were indicted on charges related to a prostitution enterprise called XO Companions, or XOC.  The four defendants are Anton Panin, age 40, of Hollywood, Florida, Jennie Lawson, age 37, of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Tracey Lawson, age 57, of Thomasville, Pennsylvania, and Viktoriia Zakirova, age 32, of Miami, Florida. 

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment charges each defendant with conspiring to transport women in interstate and foreign commerce with intent that the women engage in prostitution and conspiring to persuade women to travel to engage in prostitution.  The indictment further charges Panin and the Lawsons with money laundering.

The indictment explains that Panin and Zakirova recruited women in Russia and other Eastern European countries to travel to the United States to work as prostitutes for XO Companions.  Once in the United States, XO Companions workers traveled throughout the country to meet with clients in major cities.  XO Companions workers typically sent cash prostitution proceeds to the Lawsons, who in turn transported the money to Panin in Florida.  Additionally, the defendants operated a password-protected website through which clients could view schedules, view services offered, reserve time, and provide reviews.

“The indictment in this case has dismantled an extensive and long-running commercial sex enterprise that exploited countless women and repeatedly violated U.S. laws,” said U.S. Attorney Karam.  “We commend the law enforcement agents who coordinated across multiple agencies and worked tirelessly in the investigation that led to these charges.”

“As the lead agency in this investigation, the Diplomatic Security Service demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the integrity of U.S. travel documents and the rights of visitors to the United States,” said the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Andrew Wroblewski.  “Our strong relationship with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania continues to be essential in pursuing those who profit from exploiting U.S. visa systems.”

“Tracing money obtained as the result of criminal acts is the specialty of IRS Criminal Investigation agents,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Yury Kruty.  “IRS-CI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that individuals who attempt to hide their criminal involvement will be held accountable.”

“As alleged, Anton Panin, Viktoriia Zakirova, Jennie Lawson and Tracey Lawson operated an illicit prostitution ring over the span of many years in cities across the United States. To date, the investigation has identified hundreds of individuals linked to the criminal enterprise, some of whom are suspected of being victims of human trafficking,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “We would like to thank HSI Miami’s Fort Lauderdale office and HSI Philadelphia’s Harrisburg office for their significant contributions to this multi-year investigation. HSI is committed to working with law enforcement agencies across jurisdictions to protect potential victims from being exploited for personal profit. I commend the collaboration of our agents and our law enforcement partners whose investigative efforts over the past five years were instrumental in apprehending these suspected sex traffickers.”

“The defendants preyed upon vulnerable women hoping for a better life in the United States, and they now will be held accountable for their heinous actions.  Today’s indictment sends a message to would be traffickers that the FBI and its partners are committed to protecting victims and bringing their predators to justice,” said Philadelphia Division FBI Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire.”

If you believe you are a victim in this case, please contact Homeland Security Investigations at 866-347-2423 or SexTrafficking_Outreach@hsi.dhs.gov.