Denver man sentenced to 448 years for human trafficking — believed to be the longest in state history for such crimes

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

A Denver man received what is believed to be the longest sentence in Colorado history Thursday for human trafficking convictions. 

Judge Kandace Gerdes handed down a 448-year prison sentence to Robert Hawkins after he was convicted on 18 counts — including five counts of human trafficking — in Denver District Court Tuesday. Victims and family members read impact statements prior to sentencing.  

After the sentencing hearing, Juror #8 said the evidence made it easy to reach a guilty verdict.

“The prosecution did a great job of presenting really solid evidence, and there were a few questions, and again, we took it very seriously,” said the juror who did not want to give their name. “We went through a lot of information, a lot of evidence, but it was pretty apparent what was happening.” 

A jury convicted Hawkins after a month-long trial in March. The three cases involved four women, two juvenile girls and one adult male over several years. One of the juveniles became an adult during the trial. All of the victims testified against the 44-year-old.

“I'm hoping that today's sentence will send the message that human trafficking will not be tolerated in this community and it will be prosecuted aggressively,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. “Robert Hawkins, like most human traffickers, showed no regard for anyone but himself, took advantage of six extremely vulnerable victims, and now he will pay a significant price for his crimes.”

Hawkins hit the radar of the Denver District Attorney's Office after an adult survivor came forward to the Denver Police Department. Chief Deputy District Attorney Lara Mullin said it was a challenging time in building a case. She said that one survivor had long left Hawkins. But, he continued to exploit others. The FBI and Denver Police Department had opened similar investigations on Hawkins involving the two juveniles.

“Ultimately, what we realized is that these are all kind of co-related — in the process of building that case and starting to really look into what Robert Hawkins was doing over the years,” Mullin said. “We then identified another victim who had been involved in an incident where Robert Hawkins had in fact shot a sex buyer after he dropped her off on Colfax Avenue. And at the time that case came in, we didn't realize that human trafficking was happening.”

Hawkins will serve the sentences from each of the cases consecutively.