Pasco gang leader arrested for sex trafficking women across multiple states
WARNING: This article contains graphic and disturbing content
PASCO, Wash. – A 34-year-old convicted felon and gang leader is in the Franklin County Jail for multiple heinous crimes including trafficking and promoting prostitution – crimes that ranged to six states.
Pasco Police started investigating Lance Horntvedt in late 2017. The investigation started after a prostitution sting at a local motel. One woman was arrested.
She said Horntvedt took her to multiple prostitution meets. She told police that she first met Horntvedt in June 2017. According to court documents, Horntvedt goes by the name “King Handz” and is the leader of the Gangster Disciples.
He has been in and out of the jail system for a few years, and ran a trafficking ring in six states.
The victim, one of five in this case, said she was prostituting to support herself and her drug habit. However, Horntvedt started to give her heroin.
In the court documents, police said this is common in trafficking and it creates a sense of dependence. Horntvedt later started to put ads for her online, told her how much money to charge for sexual services and how to word her ads.
Horntvedt was in the Walla Walla County Jail from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5 in 2017. During that time, court documents say recorded phone calls revealed Horntvedt talking about having other women working for him. He was communicating with the victim in jail, asking how many “jobs” she was doing.
He threatened the victim multiple times over the phone. Court documents said that he was going “to throat punch her” for not taking his calls. Horntvedt also threatened to knock her out when he got out of jail.
Court documents said he told the victim “if people were really telling on me they wouldn’t be breathing anymore.”
A few months after Horntvedt was released from the Walla Walla County Jail, he planned to take the victim to Utah to work, which court documents said was really sex acts. The pair got into an argument and Richland officers were called. Horntvedt allegedly threw her bag at her and knocked her to the ground.
Over in Utah, an authority with the Utah Attorney General’s Office played a role in this case. He interviewed more victims. Horntvedt allegedly met other girls in Utah.
The victim said she first met Horntvedt in Utah in February 2016. She told detectives that other women were given names, meant to be terms of endearment in the hierarchy of a trafficking enterprise, court documents said.
This victim said she was addicted to heroin when she met Horntvedt, which he would provide.
The other women, also victims, started talking to her about going on “dates” and said sex would not be involved. She was then brought to Washington state, but when she went on her first “date,” she was forced to perform oral sex on Horntvedt’s heroin dealer.
Horntvedt told her she had to have sex with him because he already paid Horntvedt for her, documents said.
The victim told authorities that she felt like she had to perform the sex acts in order to keep the other victims from being assaulted.
On another occasion, the victim said she did not want to go through with another “date.” Horntvedt told her that “she had to work as a sex worker,” documents stated.
Horntvedt allegedly took her iPad, cell phone and clothes. The victim was later able to get out of Washington state.
Court documents said hundreds of pages of Backpage ads with photographs of numerous victims were found by detectives – some containing both Horntvedt’s email and phone number. Some of the ads were posted in 2016 and 2017 – all involving a different victim.
The investigation continued into 2019 when officers interviewed more victims. According to documents, another victim met Horntvedt through Beau Higuera, another member of the Gangster Disciples. She met Horntvedt when he was released from jail in Arizona.
Horntvedt and Higuera allegedly posted sex ads online for the victim. Documents said, “Higuera was a protégé of sorts to the Defendant in his sex trafficking enterprise.”
Horntvedt drove the victim to all her “dates” across the Tri-Cities. The other victims would sometimes go with her. Documents say most of the “dates” took place at houses and hotels. Each person was required to pay at least $150 for the victim to show up.
Once the victim returned back home, Horntvedt and Higuera would take all her money from the sex acts. Documents said the victims were also physically abused. Sometimes Higuera would hit her for no reason, court documents stated.
“The Defendant and Higuera told her that if she tried to leave they were going to ‘find her,” documents said.
Some of the states where the trafficking took place include Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Oregon and Colorado. However, he’s only been charged in Washington state at this time.
A few months later, another victim was interviewed by detectives. She said she first met Horntvedt in 2012. The victim said she was also physically abused and Horntvedt allegedly tried to strangle her. She was abused once or twice a week.
In 2015, Horntvedt talked to the victim about prostitution. Eventually, Horntvedt had her doing the sex acts daily or at least every other day, documents said.
She said if the other victims did something wrong, she was the one who would get beaten. According to the detective in the court documents, this is common for a pimp to abuse the bottom ranking female in a trafficking enterprise, often in front of the other girls in order to gain and keep their compliance.
On February 20, 2020, Horntvedt was arrested for multiple felonies. He’s facing five counts of trafficking in the first degree, one count of attempted trafficking in the first degree, and three counts of promoting prostitution in the second degree. Those range from class A to C felonies.
Horntvedt has been in custody since March 20, 2018. According to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, he was sent to prison in 2018 and was later sent to the Benton County Jail for other local warrants and misdemeanors.
When those were resolved, he was transferred to the Franklin County Jail in 2020 to face his new charges.
According to the Washington state Department of Corrections, he is not on community supervision. He has been under the jurisdiction of the DOC for assault in the third degree, possession of a controlled substance, harassment, attempting to elude pursuing a police vehicle, and injury hit and run.
The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office said his standard sentencing range is 298 to 397 months for the trafficking charges. That converts to about 24 years to 33 years in prison. The range does not include the other charges.
If special allegations or aggravating factors are charged, he could potentially face more than his standard range.