She lived a life of money and status during her time in a major crime ring headquartered in Tyler. Meth, heroin, guns and managing prostitutes were part of her lifestyle. But the crime ring's run came to an end, and the 33-year-old now finds herself serving five years in the federal prison system.

Sitting in a conference room in the new addition of the Smith County Jail, Eve, a pseudonym to protect the woman's identity, talked about her life as an overseer of prostitutes and pimp's girlfriend.

The interview, facilitated by the Smith County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, involved the recent take down of a crime ring that resulted in stopping a major flow of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, guns and prostitutes and the conviction of 13 individuals, including Eve.

The drug conspiracy case began in February 2013 and recently concluded in federal court. Though officials focused in on the drug conspiracy aspect of the case, they confirm the group played a major role in prostitution in the area.

Eve said she shared her story, hoping it would deter others from the lifestyle.

She spoke candidly of her journey into a world of drugs and gangs, which she said began in the 1990s, when she was a teenager in Abilene.

Eve began taking drugs at 13, and though her family and others tried to stop her, she ran full speed into a life of crime.

"I did my first stint in prison when I stole a payroll check from my mother and forged and cashed it to buy drugs," she said.

Eve said she became involved with prostitution when she met her now-former boyfriend and co-conspirator in the recent U.S. Attorney's case.

"We ran about five or six girls at a time, and we would put them on (the website) Backpage, and they would go and prostitute and give us the money. They didn't get paid in money, but we provided them a room, food, clothes. Their pay was all of this, but we also supplied all of their drugs," she said.

Eve said she drove prostitutes to the homes of men who answered the Backpage ads, and in those cases, the men would pay up to $900 for two hours with a girl.

While Eve oversaw the prostitutes and made sure they had food, nail and hair appointments, clothing and drugs, another woman acted as the enforcer for the group.

Eve said if one of the girls cheated her and the pimp out of money, the enforcer would find the girl and beat her until she paid the money.

"In some cases, (the enforcer) would beat them pretty badly," she said. "One pimp shot at one of his girls, and he beat her so badly. I have never seen someone beat like he beat her."

Eve said some of the girls working within her group were younger than 18, including two about 15, qualifying the crime as sex trafficking.

"One of the girls in our case was sold by her mother into prostitution for drugs when she was only 14. It was a crime ring. Anything goes," she said.

Eve said the underage girls often were runaways who were already addicted to illicit drugs.

"As sad as it is, some of these girls would choose this. They may start out at a strip club or as a runaway, and as they get involved with drugs, many times they transition down. It's a downward spiral," she said. "It's like a network, and everyone knows everyone else in the business."

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said Eve's claim of human trafficking of underage girls in East Texas is a sad reality.

"We're not talking about this happening in some foreign country, on the border or some large city miles from here. We are talking about this happening right here in East Texas," he said.

Smith said his office and other agencies have had forums on human trafficking after being involved with the case against Eve and her co-conspirators, which began in February 2013.

Eve said some of the prostitutes were also involved in robbing clients, which she said happened often in Tyler.

"One of the girls, that was her main thing. She would rob every one of her johns. At the end, she didn't want to do the prostitution thing, so she would just rob them," she said.

Eve said she would tell anyone that argued prostitution was only sex for sale that they were wrong.

"It involves all kinds of crime and can be very dangerous. For the girls, it may begin as glamorous and fun, but it's not. This lifestyle is dangerous for anyone involved, whether it's the girls or the johns," she said.

She said when she and others were arrested, everything of value they had amassed was seized, leaving them with nothing but a conviction and a prison sentence.

Eve said she will be near 40 once she is released from prison, and she hopes to get her life straightened out before her release.

Her advice to anyone wanting the lifestyle of big money through drugs, prostitution and any other type of illegal crime was simple.

"You have a better chance of working a minimum wage job and slowly building what you want instead of living this lifestyle and expecting it to come up with anything," she said. "In the end, you have nothing, and people don't look at you the same."

Twitter: @KenDeanofTyler

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