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August 2014 Newsletter
The following is a compendium of news reports over the last month that may be of interest to our AG offices that are dealing with human trafficking issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the position expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.
News from AG Offices
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondihas launched an initiative aimed at training emergency workers how to identify signs of trafficking.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto addressed members of the State Bar of Nevada on sex trafficking, calling on members of the legislature to increase penalties for second and subsequent offenses, seal the records of victims, and boost penalties against those who use the services of sex trafficking victims.
Federal Legislative Activity
On July 24, the House of Representatives passed eight human trafficking bills. HR 2283, the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, mandates that the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking within the U.S. Department of State be changed to Bureau status. HR 5111 amends the Missing Children's Assistance Act to include a grant to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the operation of a cyber tipline regarding child sex trafficking. HR 5135, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2014, requires the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to conduct various reviews and surveys to identify best practices and strategies to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It also requires the GAO to report on both federal and state law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking and authorizes grants for housing assistance for trafficking victims. HR 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, addresses the issue of sex trafficking of children in foster care. HR 5076, Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2014, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to give priority to grantees that are involve d with activities designed to increase knowledge concerning, and to improve services for, runaway youth and homeless youth. HR 4449 requires human trafficking awareness training for various foreign service personnel, including ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission. HR 5116, the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2014, requires the Department of Homeland Security to implement a human trafficking awareness program for the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection. Finally, HR 5081, Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014, would ensure that every child welfare agency have methodologies to identify exploited children and connect them with the services needed.
In the Senate, S. 2564, the End Trafficking Act of 2014, was introduced on July 7. It would, among other things, tighten penalties for pimps and traffickers and provide more care for victims as well as providing a penalty for knowingly selling advertising that offers certain commercial sex acts.
State Legislative Activity
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed SB 317 into law. The bill provides a safe harbor for juvenile victims of human trafficking, increases penalties against trafficking, allows victims to sue traffickers, and allows victims to expunge their record. The new law is a product of Attorney General Joseph Foster’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.
SB 75 was signed into law in July. It extensively revises Pennsylvania law on human trafficking . The new law defines human trafficking and sex trafficking and creates felonies for someone who knowingly patronizes someone who is a victim of trafficking and for destroying or withholding government identification such as passports.
July 24, 2014: A grand jury has indicted a woman on seven felonies relating to sex trafficking. She allegedly operated a prostitution ring between Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, and Juneau.
July 8, 2014: Police arrested four men accused of hiring out three teenage girls in an alleged sex-trafficking ring operating out of Tempe.
July 26, 2014: Marsalis Joseph Smith of Gardena has been sentenced to five years in state prison on his pleading guilty to one felony count each of human trafficking and criminal threats. He trafficked a 17-year old from Los Angeles County to Orange County and threatened her with violence if she did not comply with his orders.
July 25, 2014: After a four-month investigation, local police officers in Victorville have arrested 29-year old Dale Morrison on suspicion of pimping, pandering, human trafficking, and several traffic-related warrants. Officials allege that Morrison had five women and two girls who were forced to work as prostitutes out of hotels and motels in the High Desert, Ontario, and Redland areas.
July 5, 2014: In El Cerrito,Erick Ealy II has been arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking, kidnapping, pimping, and conspiracy. His bail has been set at $1.6 million. He allegedly abducted a woman to prevent her from reporting him to law enforcement in June.
July 3, 2014: San Mateo police arrested 21-year old Shayne Lusalah for prostituting a 24-year old woman. When she complained she was too tired to entertain another customer, he allegedly attacked her, threw her out of a motel room, breaking a large glass window in the process.
July 9, 2014: Police, responding to a tip from a national hotline, arrested Joe Worthy Dobbs on suspicion of child sex trafficking. A tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led to the discovery of a 16-year old and at least five other women whom Dobbs lured to Panama City by claiming he was a modeling agent.
July 3, 2014: The Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution filed charges against Shawn Anthony Lewis on one count of human trafficking. Lewis allegedly blackmailed the victim by threatening to send sexual videos of her to her family and the Department of Children and Families in order to try to get them to take her two-year-old child away from her.
July 1, 2014: Jefferson Parish officials announced that Todd Bacchus pled guilty to reduced charges of pandering and battery and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was originally charged with trafficking children for sexual purposes and enticing persons into prostitution.
July 28, 2014: Gretchen Patrick of Litchfield has been charged with a felony count of aggravated sex trafficking. She allegedly coerced a 17-year old girl into prostitution.
July 22, 2014: In Portland, Tamika Dias pled guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sex trafficking and has been sentenced to eight months in jail. Felony charges were dismissed. She had been charged with holding a 19-year old woman against her will and forcing her into prostitution. Her co-defendant, Klein Fernandes, pled guilty to felony aggravated assault for assaulting the woman with a knife and two misdemeanor counts of sex trafficking. He was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault and 364 days in prison for each of the misdemeanor sex trafficking charges.
July 1, 2014:
July 29, 2014: The Clark County District Attorney’s Office reported that it had secured the first jury verdict of guilty under Nevada’s new sex trafficking law. Edrick Dillard was found guilty of sex trafficking, living from the earnings of a prostitute, and preventing/dissuading a witness from testifying. The sentence carries a minimum of three and a maximum of ten years in prison.
July 7, 2014: Levin Orr of Glassboro was arrested in June along with his girlfriend and charged with human trafficking by prostituting a 16-year old girl. He requested a reduction of his bail amount that was set at $100,000. The court refused his request, noting that human trafficking had been raised to a first-degree offense by the New Jersey legislature last year and that the bail amount was already below the range set for the crime.
July 10, 2014: Jodia Campbell was arrested and faces several charges including sex trafficking of a minor. Rochester investigators allege that Campbell took the girl out of state for prostitution and advertised her services on Backpage.
July 2, 2014: When an Assistant District Attorney in Newburgh, New York, noticed that the same man was posting bail for young women arrested for prostitution or for small quantities of drugs, she launched an investigation that led to the arrest of Alexander Adams on trafficking charges. Adams pled guilty to sex trafficking as well as criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon. He will be sentenced in August.
July 7, 2014: Fayetteville police responded to a text message a woman sent to “911,” alleging that she had been kidnapped and forced to work as a prostitute. Police arrested a man and two women and charged them with human trafficking and sexual servitude. Searches at a local motel found drugs, more than 100 rounds of ammunition, a handgun, and dozens of condoms, and sex toys.
July 31, 2014: Independence police arrested two individuals after they were stopped in a car leaving the America’s Best Value Inn with two teen girls. The police, following up on a tip, checked out an ad on a website and, while the car was stopped, called the number in the ad. When the phone rang in the pocket of one of the adults, the police arrested a man and an adult woman that was with him in the car.
July 17, 2014: The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics arrested 18-year old Brianna Carpenter on suspicion of human trafficking. Her alleged victim is a juvenile.
July 1, 2014: A Philadelphia man has been sentenced to 17-34 years in prison for trafficking a 15-year-old girl. Robert Spence reportedly required her to work all night on street corners, gave her a crate to sleep in, and contacted a friend from jail urging him to take her over to continue the pimping business.
July 9, 2014: An aspiring rapper from North Providence, Xavier Sewell, was arrested on charges of sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy. He allegedly took in a 17-year old runaway in June and sold her for sex out of a Middletown hotel room. Two more suspects are being sought.
July 11, 2014: Nashville police have arrested three suspects in connection with an alleged prostitution operation, charging them with commercial sex trafficking and promoting prostitution. Girls were allegedly smuggled in from Mexico and rotated in and out of the Nashville area.
July 3, 2014: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has obtained indictments for two Georgia men in an ongoing human trafficking investigation. They have been each charged by a Grand Jury with one count of Aggravated Statutory Rape involving a minor female victim.
July 30, 2014: As a result of a pre-sentencing investigation, a St. George, Utah, judge has granted probation to a Nevada man who was convicted of running a sex trafficking operation that would shorten his sentence of 180 days in jail if an interstate compact agreement with Nevada probation officials can be arranged.
July 15, 2014: A Manawa man was bound over to trial in Oneida County on charges of human trafficking, child enticement, and a sex charge. Two others have also been charged concerning the same circumstances.
Articles of General Interest
JAMA Pediatricsincludes two articles regarding the sex trafficking of minors and the role of healthcare providers in helping trafficking victims. A recent issue of JAMA Internal Medicine also advocated for a formal, evidence-based curricula on human trafficking and health care that would include information about prevalence, health effects, and signs of human trafficking.
Fairfax County, Virginia, police have developed a public service announcement that will, hopefully, save local girls who are afraid to ask for help. The PSA was developed in connection with Fairfax County’s “Just Ask” campaign. The website Just AskVa.org features quizzes that a teen can take to determine if he or she is a victim of human trafficking and also includes information for parents and the community.
The FBI used an on-line Malaysian slave-trading organization, which they were investigating and which turned out to be a scam, to run a sting in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Four American men have been arrested and charged with federal trafficking offenses for attempting to buy slaves at a fictitious auction set up by federal investigators.
A lawsuit has been filed by five men who allege that they are victims of labor trafficking at a Christmas tree farm in California. The lawsuit has been placed on holding pending a criminal investigation. According to the complaint, an Oakley, Idaho, company, Pure Forest, recruited workers from Hidalgo, Mexico, with the promise of 40-hour work weeks and a specified wage. The workers however contend that, once in California, their passports were seized,and they were subjected to harsh living conditions.
Oakland, California, police have begun posting the photographs of those charged with soliciting prostitutes and those charged as pimps. The page, titled “Enough – Putting an End to Sex Trafficking in Oakland” will include the person’s name, date of birth, city of residence, and date of arrest. Other cities in California, such as Richmond, Sacramento, and Fresno, are also posting pictures of suspects on their websites.
Arizona State University’s School of Social Work, Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, teamed with the Phoenix Police Department to develop a model to estimate the number of customers contacting online sex advertisements.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a series of educational seminars for health care providers to teach them the signs of human trafficking and give them information regarding resources to assist victims.