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How a series of paintings helped tip investigators off to a multi-state sex trafficking ring based out of Plano

'You see it every day,' said John Perez, who runs the North Texas Trafficking Task Force. 'You just don't know what you're looking for.'

Morgan Young (WFAA)

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Published: 7:01 PM MDT May 2, 2022
Updated: 9:35 PM MDT May 3, 2022

In August 2018, Wayne Bearden called the Plano Police Department to report a robbery at his house. 

When officers arrived at Bearden's home to file a report, they noticed a few things. 

First, they saw that there were multiple guns in his house. 

Then, as they continued to investigate, they discovered that Bearden was a convicted felon -- meaning he was not lawfully able to own those guns. 

They kept digging.  

Months later, with the help of Homeland Security Investigations Dallas, Plano detectives discovered Bearden was also running a human trafficking ring out of the very same house he'd initially called police to investigate. 

The Department of Justice report that was released after Bearden was sentenced in 2021 says that he eventually pleaded guilty to possessing firearms as a felon -- as well as to additional charges of coercion, enticement and aiding and abetting. 

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

But this story isn't that cut and dry. There's plenty more beneath the surface.

The DOJ report also included the details of the operation that Bearden was running. It explained the roles that three other women -- all of whom were also charged -- played in his operation. 

Per the report, they held "booking appointments," coordinated out-of-state trafficking transactions and posted advertisements for sexual services online. 

Then there's the matter of the curious paintings police found in Bearden's home.

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