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July 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.
Major News Story
The FBI, with assistance from local law enforcement and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, conducted Operation Cross Country VII, a week-long enforcement action addressing commercial child sex trafficking. Across the country, 168 children were recovered and 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.
News from AG Offices
California Attorney General Kamala Harrisannounced the arrest of two women, Qiao He and her sister Gaineng He. They are accused of operating a sex trafficking brothel in San Francisco. They have pled not guilty and are free on $50,000 bond.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondiwas honored by the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services at their annual awards banquet. She was recognized for her leadership in helping human trafficking victims and working on ending human trafficking in Florida.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olensjoined U.S. Attorney Michael Moore at a conference in Macon in June that addressed the issue of child sex trafficking. Gen. Olens noted that Georgia has strengthened its laws against sex trafficking and that the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is now providing training to other law enforcement agencies in the state.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Mastoannounced that her office hosted rural law enforcement trainings in Elko, Winnemucca, and Lovelock in June. The trainings focused on improving community responses to victims of violence, specifically human trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Her office also hosted the second in a series of talks on sex trafficking which featured Halleh Seddighzadeh, who works in Nevada with victims of sex trafficking to address the trauma individuals sustain as a result of trafficking.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilsonhas released a plan for how the state will address the crime of human trafficking. The plan includes instituting specific training for law enforcement agencies.
Federal Legislative Activity
As noted in last month’s newsletter, Sen. Kirk (R-Ill) has introduced S. 2536, which has been co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif). The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act targets websites that provide a forum for the Internet sale of children for sex.
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has introduced HR 4842, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery act of 2014. It is co-sponsored by Chris Smith (R-NJ). If passed, the bill would require companies to file annual reports with the SEC disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains. The legislation is modeled after the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act although the proposed federal legislation is not limited to retailers and manufacturers, but would be applicable to any publicly-traded or private company currently required to submit annual reports to the SEC.
State Legislative Activity
Delaware: SB 197, supported by Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, was signed into law by Governor Markell late last month. Delaware is the first state to enact the Uniform Law Commission’s Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking law.
Florida: Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 989 and HB 7141 into law. HB 989 increases protection for victims of human trafficking and HB 7141 provides definitions and makes changes to rules and guidelines to state agencies and community-based care lead agencies in administering safe houses and safe foster homes for children who have been sexually exploited. The legislation was supported by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who attended the signing ceremony.
Louisiana: Governor Bobby Jindal signed four bills into law that will help law enforcement crack down on human trafficking. HB 1025 expands the definition of racketeering activity and increases protections and remedies for victims. HB 569 authorizes district courts to designate a section or division of court for human trafficking cases. HB 1105 requires posting of the Human Trafficking hotline in outpatient abortion facilities. HB 1262 mandates that a woman be provided information on coerced abortions and human trafficking prior to undergoing an elective abortion.
Ohio: Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 130, which passed the legislature unanimously. The legislation came from Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Human Trafficking Commission Legal and Legislative Subcommittee. It removes the need to prove compulsion to convict a trafficker if the victim is under 15 years of age and removes the need to prove compulsion to other minors if the alleged trafficker is in a position of authority over the victim. It also increases penalties for those who solicit minors or the developmentally disabled, protects minor human trafficking victim arrest information and allows a minor victim under 16 to testify by closed circuit television in a preliminary hearing.
Rhode Island: Under a new Rhode Island law, filed on behalf of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, the state may now seize assets and profits from pimps and human traffickers who enslave others for sexual enterprises. The legislation, S 2820 and H 7620, corrected an unjust result of an older law that required forfeiture of assets received by those convicted of prostitution but not by those who had induced or allowed another to provide those services.
June 6, 2014: The co-defendant of David Barrow, the former Guntersville High School coach facing charges in a child sexual abuse case has now been charged with four counts of human trafficking. Kristian Griffin of Huntsville has been incarcerated since her May arrest. She is accused of agreeing to take the victims to her co-defendant.
June 27, 2014: In Orange County Superior Court, a Sacramento man, Michael Greer, was sentenced to six years and four months in prison after he pled guilty to sex trafficking of two girls, ages 16 and 17, in 2013. His co-defendant, Jaylin Marshall, who also pled guilty, is expected to be sentenced to 10 years because of a prior conviction for a residential burglary.
June 21, 2014: San Bernardino police assisted the FBI in its Cross County VII sweep. Two girls were rescued and 14 others were arrested on a variety of charges.
June 7, 2014: Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo announced that Levester Pierson was sentenced to nine years in prison and imposed a $50,000 fine after a jury in April found him guilty of human trafficking and pandering. Pierson’s accomplice had been earlier sentenced to 10 years and eight months on human trafficking and kidnapping charges.
June 6, 2014: Three men have been charged by Contra Costa County prosecutors on conspiracy to commit human trafficking, torture, mayhem, and kidnapping for extortion. The men, all from Pittsburg, allegedly used force and torture to keep at least three women in the late teens and early 20s in their prostitution ring.
June 27, 2014: The Denver District Attorney’s Office announced the arrest of two individuals, Edwin Coriano and Alena Rust, on charges of sex trafficking, pimping, and pandering.
June 24, 2014: A Polk County Sheriff’s investigation into a major drug ring has led to the arrest of Nelson Hernandez for both drug offenses and human trafficking. According to officials, Hernandez was smuggling Cubans into the country and then forcing them to work in the marijuana grow houses as payment. Eight other individuals were also arrested and 96 pounds of marijuana were seized.
June 10, 2014: Gainesville police have arrested the owner of Deegan Professional Tax Service, Timothy Deegan, charging him with human trafficking. According to officials, he kept three women trapped in his home for months, prostituting them and giving them drugs in exchange for sex and keeping his house clean.
June 5, 2014: A Williston woman pled guilty to conspiring to commit human trafficking, agreed to testify against her co-defendant, and was sentenced to one-year of jail followed by two years of probation. She was arrested after a sting operation by the Ocala Police Department when an undercover source gave the women $1500 to procure three women between ages 17 and 23.
June 26, 2014: Boise law enforcement officials conducted a sweep of a local hotel after receiving a report that prostitutes, some of whom seemed coerced, were operating there. They arrested Roderich Hugh Aaron from Las Vegas, charging him with human trafficking, trafficking in prostitution, procurement of prostitution, and detention for prostitution. Bond has been set at $1 million.
June 30, 2014: Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that ten people have now pled guilty to human trafficking charges and will serve a combined 102 years in prison. The convictions come as a result of the first ever state-based wiretap investigation targeting the sex trafficking of children and young women in Chicago. Since the creation of the Human Trafficking Initiative in 2010, 93 defendants have been charged with the offense.
June 23, 2014: A Laurel County Grand Jury indicted Tina Sawyers and Albert Sawyers of Pennington Gap, Virginia, on 12 counts of human trafficking and 12 counts of first-degree complicity to commit sodomy. The charges involve a 12 year old child. The sodomy charges claim that both subjects aided and abetted and failed to prevent James Harris, who has been charged with sodomy, from engaging in deviate sexual intercourse.
June 6, 2014: Natchitoches Parish law enforcement officials announced the arrest of three individuals, David Rodriguez, Christina Harper, and Ambre Lomas, on charges of human trafficking and kidnapping. The victim, a transgendered woman, was allegedly held as a slave, degraded, and tortured, slept in a 3 x 5 wooden box, tattooed, and registered on a website that registers people for consensual submissive or slave relationships.
June 6, 2014: Cumberland County Deputy District Attorney Megan Elam announced that Klein Fernandes, one of three people charged with operating a sex trafficking business from a Gorham home, has pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
June 27, 2014: Cecil County authorities arrested Germaine Wiggins of Frostburg and charged him with human trafficking. A woman contacted police and told them that she had been raped and that she and another woman were being held against their will.
June 18, 2014: Rochester police have arrested a man, Tyler Glynn, who has been charged with two felony counts of soliciting a 15-year old child to engage in sexual conduct.
June 19, 2014: Levin Orr of Glassboro and Jennie Norcross of Blackwood have been arrested following an investigation by the Major Crimes Unit of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. They have been charged with human trafficking of an individual under the age of 18. They are being held in default of $100,000 bail.
June 12, 2014: The Clay County Attorney’s Office and Moorhead Police Department announced that a 13-year old girl had been rescued and two people arrested in a sting operation in Fargo. Eyeesha Hinton and Prince Jones are accused of sex trafficking a 13-year old victim from the Minneapolis area.
June 24, 2014: Alexander Adams pled guilty to charges of sex trafficking, criminal possession of drugs, and criminal possession of a weapon in Orange County Court. He recruited at least 10 women, who were often heroin-addicted, homeless, and hungry, and forced them to work as prostitutes in the towns of New Windsor and Newburgh.
June 20, 2014: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced that Benjamin Gaston has been convicted of sex trafficking, rape, and kidnapping. Sentencing is scheduled for July 29. He held a 37-year old woman captive in November 2012. Escaping from the sixth floor bedroom window, she fell and broke bones in her back, legs, and arm.
June 16, 2014: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents arrested William Johnson in Oklahoma City on human trafficking, child prostitution, and pandering charges. He is accused of trafficking a 14-year old girl by placing online sex ads.
June 26, 2014: Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico announced the arrest of Coy Klinger, aka Johnny Rain, on human trafficking and prostitution charges. He allegedly recruited girls on Facebook to become prostitutes.
June 8, 2014: Upper Darby police arrested Kevin Cornnish and charged him with rape and human trafficking. The charges stem from the complaint of an 18-year old woman who answered a job listing on Craigslist for a home health worker. When she answered the ad, she discovered she was filling out an application for an escort service. Upon objecting, she was forced to take off her clothes, photos were taken, and she was raped. The investigation is continuing.
June 18, 2014: Following a tip about a missing 16-year-old Providence girl advertised as an escort on a website, Pawtucket detectives have arrested Curtis Maxie who was indicted by a grand jury on charges of sex trafficking a minor, conspiracy, and three charges of rape. A second man, Marquis Melia, has also been indicted on a charge of sex trafficking a minor and conspiracy. Maxie has been ordered to be held without bail.
June 12, 2014: An undercover investigation by the Clarksville Police Special Operations Unit led to the arrest of a Kentucky woman and Knoxville man. Rodgers Lee Shealy and Sasha Gail Young were both indicted and charged with human trafficking of a 17-year old girl.
June 20, 2014: Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed announced the conviction of Frank Lara on all four counts of human trafficking and compelling prostitution of a child younger than 18 years of age. Lara, conducted the trafficking business largely through his phone from his mother’s home while he was under house arrest and GPS monitoring ordered as part of his latest parole.
June 11, 2014: The Texas Department of Public Safety announced that ten illegal immigrants were indicted by a Dallas County grand jury in connection with a human trafficking ring that brought young women into the United States from Central America and Mexico. The women were promised jobs as housekeepers or nannies but, once arriving in this county, were forced into prostitution in North Texas area brothels.
June 18, 2014: Leroy Haley III has pled guilty to human trafficking and other charges in St. George. He was found with a 17-year old female and co-defendant Francis Uhrhan. Urhan earlier pled guilty and was sentenced to five years to life for first degree aggravated exploitation of a minor. However, the judge stayed execution and sentenced her to one year in jail, describing her as also being a victim of Haley’s. Haley will be sentenced the end of July.
June 23, 2014: The Racine Human Trafficking Task Force participated in the FBI’s Operation Cross County VIII. Two pimps were arrested and thirteen women recovered; several other people are under investigation.
June 3, 2014: A sex trafficking sting in Eau Claire County has led to the conviction and sentencing of David Frank to six months in jail and five years of probation. He responded to ads placed on Craigslist posing as a teen or as an adult willing to traffic or sell a child for sex.
June 8, 2014: A man from Pocatello is the first to be charged under the state’s human trafficking law. What began as a driving under the influence charge for Jonathan Massoletti became a charge under the human trafficking law when a Teton County deputy prosecutor became suspicious during the DUI arraignment. One of the individuals in the car with him, on being re-interviewed, admitted that Massoletti frequently threatened her, always took the money earned from prostitution, and had driven her on a circuit from Idaho, to Washington, and then to Jackson.
Articles of General Interest
The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council has released an updated guide for providers of support services for human trafficking victims, titled Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States, 2014.
Arizona State University researchers, the American Bar Association, and the McCain Institute jointly released a study that found that more than half of all Fortune 100 companies have publicly available policies that address human trafficking in their supply chains. Nearly two-thirds have policies on forced labor.
The Guardianpublished an article detailing the results of a six-month investigation into the global shrimp industry. The newspaper found that horrific conditions exist for slaves who supply the food for farmed prawn, the world’s largest producers of shrimp, Thailand-based CP Foods, included torture, death, and 20-hour work days. Once harvested, the shrimp are then shipped for sale to grocery stores throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Los Angeles County supervisors recently voted to create a new training program for foster parents and group home staff to help them identify and help children who might be victims of sex trafficking.
The Phoenix, Arizona, City Council unanimously approved a blueprint for attacking human trafficking that combines the efforts of law enforcement, victim services, training, and community outreach.
A newspaper reporter followed San Francisco public health inspectors and police officers on an inspection of San Francisco massage parlors.
A lifetime protective order has been entered by a Fort Bend, Texas, judge for a victim of human trafficking. The mentally-challenged victim was subjected to physical abuse and sexual slavery.