By JENNIFER CABRERA/Alachua Chronicle

GAINESVILLE ‒ Eric Levon West, 35, of Archer, was arrested on Friday, Aug. 25, and charged with two counts of human trafficking of a minor, two counts of traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual contact, two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and possession of marijuana with intent to sell after allegedly picking up two 16-year-old girls and giving them marijuana in exchange for sex.

On Feb. 11, 2023, West was driving behind an RTS bus when he saw the two girls get off and offered to give them marijuana. One of the girls gave West her phone number so he could contact them when he had the marijuana. West allegedly contacted the girl later and arranged to meet both girls to provide the marijuana. The girls said they got into his truck when he arrived and one of the girls said she heard him say he was “gonna want something” in exchange for the marijuana. Both girls told Gainesville Police Department officers that they told him they were 16 years old.

West reportedly drove the girls to a gas station on Tower Road and bought the girls some chips and soda. He then drove to the parking lot of the Home Depot on Northwest 4th Boulevard, where he moved one of the seats in the truck to make more room in the back seat. He reportedly got into the back seat with both girls.

The victims told officers that West took off his shoes, pants and underwear, and one of the victims performed oral sex on him. Then West allegedly told the other victim it was her “turn” and had intercourse with her.

The victims said that before leaving the parking lot, West told them he would take them to a hotel the next time. He allegedly gave each girl “a nominal amount” of marijuana and took them back to the area where he had picked them up.

The victims were able to provide a description of the man and the truck, and officers used the phone number that he had given to one of the victims to identify the man as West. West is also the registered owner of a truck matching the description provided by the victims.

Cell phone records reportedly show communications between West and one of the victims on Feb. 11 and location information from West’s phone reportedly shows him in the area where the victims were picked up, at the gas station, in the Home Depot parking lot and back to the area where the victims were dropped off.

Detectives reportedly made contact with West on Aug. 24 and 25 on the victim’s phone, pretending to be the girl. During the exchange, West allegedly asked the victim about her friend and said he had some good marijuana for them and had a “spot on 20th [Ave] where we can go” after the victim asked if they were going to have sex in the truck “again” or go to a hotel. In response to a question about what else he would give the victims in addition to marijuana, West allegedly replied, “$.” West reportedly agreed to meet the victims at a gas station on Southwest 20th Avenue at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25.

West allegedly texted the victim several times to let her know he was on his way. The victim asked him to pick up a Sprite for her.

West was arrested as he came out of the gas station. A search of his truck reportedly produced a Sprite that had just been purchased at the gas station, two unused condoms and 20 grams of marijuana.

Post Miranda, West reportedly said he first saw the girls when they got off a bus and he exchanged numbers with one of them. He reportedly confessed to picking up both girls, taking them to the gas station near Home Depot and buying chips and sodas for them. He reportedly admitted to moving the seat to make more room in the back seat but said he just smoked marijuana and talked to the girls and did not have sex with them.

West reportedly told officers that he does not use condoms when he has intercourse with his wife and could not explain why he had two condoms with him after texting one victim that he wanted “both of y’all”; he reportedly said he was just referring to hanging out with the victims.

West has a felony conviction for child neglect and seven misdemeanor convictions, including a hit and run and marijuana possession.

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