Columbia woman sentenced to over 15 years in prison for enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– According to acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart, a Columbia woman was sentenced to over 15 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. Authorities say 26-year-old India Tykeyah-Najee Cuyler, a/k/a “Lady Tank,” plead guilty in February 2019.

On November 21, 2017, officers with the Lexington Police Department say they encountered a minor advertising sex on a website. Officials say they set up a meeting at a motel between an undercover officer and the minor. Authorities say the minor was dropped off by Cuyler and 33-year-old Donnell Salethian Woodard, “Tank,” who were both taken into custody by police. Officers say they also went to a nearby motel where they found another minor involved in the illegal activity. Investigators say Woodard and Cuyler used a cell phone to post advertisements for sex with minors on websites, and took a portion of the profits. Officials say their investigation further revealed that the minors would sometimes have up to 10 meetings a day in hotel rooms rented by Woodard.

Woodard had previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sex trafficking minors.

“The cruelty of sex trafficking is hard to comprehend, and it must be punished severely,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart.  “This sentence closes the door on the horrific crimes committed by these defendants and demonstrates our commitment to stopping sex trafficking in South Carolina.”

Authorities say Cuyler received an obstruction of justice enhancement for using a jail phone call to try to get a minor to assault the minor victims who cooperated with law enforcement. Authorities say Cuyler also lost her reduction for acceptance of responsibility after she assaulted another inmate in the jail.

“Today’s sentencing, along with the previous sentencing of Donnell Woodard, has brought an end to a local child sex trafficking operation,” said Susan Ferensic, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge.  “These hideous crimes are frequently uncovered by local law enforcement.  We thank the Lexington Police Department and the West Columbia Police Department for their vigilance and dedication as they worked alongside the FBI to bring these individuals to justice.  We ask that if anyone sees any indication that a child is being trafficked, they report such to their local law enforcement agency or the FBI.”

According to authorities, Cuyler was ordered to make restitution with the victims involved and will also have court-ordered supervision following her release, in addition to having to register as a sex offender.

Categories: Local News, Richland