Human Trafficking Newsletter August 2017
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 state-focused 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.
In the Courts
Backpage.com has filed a federal lawsuit, Backpage.com v. Hawley, aimed at blocking Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s investigative demand, issued in May, regarding its classified ads. In a press release, Gen. Hawley noted that an article in the Washington Post recently revealed that information, such as documents, spreadsheets, and employee manuals, have emerged which demonstrate the company’s involvement in human trafficking.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and Greene County Prosecutor Daniel Patterson filed a lawsuit seeking emergency orders to shut down a number of massage parlors that were part of a multi-state investigation into human trafficking. (See the information from Louisiana below.) Sixteen businesses and individuals were named in the lawsuit, filed after law enforcement agencies raided the businesses. The judge entered a temporary restraining order to stop the offering of sexual services, but did not shut down the businesses.
A former U.S. diplomat has been found liable for enslaving and sexually trafficking an Ethiopian woman who worked as a housekeeper. Linda Howard was ordered to pay $3 million in damages to the woman who had worked for Howard and her husband in Yemen. Five years ago, the couple was found liable for trafficking another Ethiopian housekeeper. The Howards were living in Australia at the time and contested the judgment there. They settled in 2015.
The ACLU and associated organizations recently filed a federal lawsuit against several Clinton, Oklahoma, businesses, alleging that they recruited Filipinos to work at a hotel and restaurant and then paid them less than promised, threatened them, and denied them food and lodging. The lawsuit, Casilao v. Schumacher, alleges that the defendant Walter Schumacher told the employees that he was carrying a firearm in his vehicle as he was driving them from the airport after their arrival and also that the only way he would pay for the return airfare was if they were returned “in a box.” Schumacher also reportedly used his close ties with law enforcement to intimidate the employees. The plaintiffs allege that they were “induced” into paying large fees for the recruitment and for H-2B visas.
A recently filed class action suit, Zhong Zheng v. Pingtan Marine Enterpise Ltd. et al.,No. 17-cv-03807 (E.D. N.Y.), is an interesting confluence of U.S. securities law, a Chinese corporate defendant, and the Indonesian government. The suit alleges that Pingtan made a materially false statement in its SEC forms regarding its fishing operations, namely that it was fully licensed to fish in Indonesian waters when, in fact, Pingtan had been specifically banned from fishing in Indonesian waters because of allegations of serious crimes including human trafficking.
The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, S. 1693, introduced in the Senate the end of July by a bipartisan group of senators, would allow victims of sex trafficking to sue websites that knowingly facilitated crimes against them, eliminate federal liability protections under the Communications Decency Act for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws, and enable state law enforcement officials to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.
S. 1392 has been introduced in the Senate. It would establish a Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council that would advise the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking. The council would be composed of nongovernmental organizations and nonprofit groups involved in anti-human trafficking efforts.
The Senate’s Commerce Committee is considering S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, that would institute a lifetime CDL ban on any who use “a commercial motor vehicle in committing a felony involving an act of practice in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The Put Trafficking Victims First Act of 2017, S. 1504, was introduced in the Senate. It calls for a report within three years that would include the impact of state safe harbor laws and assisted services on the re-victimization of victims of trafficking and best practices on the development and implementation of effective safe harbor laws.
S. 1536 was introduced and was sent to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. It would require the designation of a human trafficking prevention coordinator and expand the activities authorized under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s education program to include human trafficking prevention.
The House passed three human trafficking related bills: the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act, HR 2200, which reauthorizes the TVPA including reauthorizing $130 million to fund the prevention of human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers; HR 2664, the Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Act, which ensures the Department of Labor can effectively train its employees to spot the illegal trade of people; and HR 2480, the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which allows law enforcement agencies to qualify for federal funding for the development and execution of programs that fight sex trafficking under the Byrne JAG program.
The Human Trafficking Accountability Act, HR 3304, is under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. It would require the Attorney General to designate human trafficking coordinators for federal judicial districts.
The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, HR 1865, would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it clear the websites that facilitate child sex trafficking can be held accountable by victims and state attorneys general.
A bill, HB 3629, has been introduced into the Illinoislegislature that would extend the statute of limitations for prosecutions of human trafficking (where the victim was under 18) to within 25 years after the victim attains the age of 18.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed into law SB 548. The bill strengthened human trafficking laws by increasing the penalty, requires postings of the human trafficking hotline number, and establishes requirements for massage and bodywork therapy establishments.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has signed into law the Uniform Act on the Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking.
The Metro Council in Nashville, Tennessee, has voted unanimously to forbid any hotel, motel, or similar establishment from renting rooms on an hourly basis or for any period less than 10 hours. The new ordinance also restricts establishments from offering any discount or rebate for early checkout.
July 20, 2017: Mary Lue Daw, 66,has been arrested in Atmore, accused of selling a juvenile, her 13-year old granddaughter, to her 87-year old boyfriend, Charles Clarence Stacy. Stacey has also been arrested. Both have been charged with first-degree human trafficking. A third person, Melissa Stoker, Daw’s daughter, was later arrested and is also facing human trafficking charges.
July 14, 2017: Police searching for Maurice Reed, 24, who was wanted for alleged human trafficking offenses in Tuscaloosa, received an anonymous tip that he was at home in Mobile County. When Mobile County and federal law enforcement officials arrived, Reed fled on foot. Canine units traced him to the bed of a pickup truck. He sustained bites on his upper and lower left leg. After being treated at a local hospital, he was booked into the Mobile County jail.
July 17, 2017: Leon Taylor, 43, was arrested on multiple charges of sex trafficking. Chino Valley authorities announced that he is accused of utilizing several adult women and a juvenile as prostitutes for his personal use and for the use of at least one other individual.
July 27, 2017: A missing person’s report in Tulare County in late 2016 has led to the rescue of thirteen girls and young women, including a 15-year old, when one of the largest sex trafficking rings on the West Coast was uncovered. A six month investigation by a number of law enforcement agencies, including the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Justice has led to two arrests so far. Quinton Brown, 30, and Gerald Turner, 32, were arrested on suspicion of four charges relating to sex trafficking, pimping, pandering, grand, theft, and identify theft. The thirteen victims include eight minors and sixteen sites across California and Nevada were allegedly used as brothels as part of the ring. Other individuals are being sought.
July 27, 2017: James Vernon Joseph Jr., aka Spyder, was convicted of conspiracy, human trafficking, and rape in Martinez. His common law wife, Avisa Lavassani, was convicted of conspiracy and human trafficking. The arrests and convictions began when a San Ramon officer attended a presentation about human trafficking and a woman, using the name Natasha, told her personal story. The officer thought he recognized the name “Spyder” and began an investigation into Joseph and Lavassani. The defendants lived in an elegant home, drove expensive cars, and sent sex workers around the country, attracting wealthy clients who paid tens of thousands of dollars for their services. Joseph faces up to 100 years to life and Lavassani faces a possible sentence of 20 years.
July 21, 2017: In Redwood City, Matthew Graves, 29, was sentenced to34 years to life following his conviction for trafficking his 16-year old girlfriend.
July 20, 2017: The Napa Special Investigations Bureau has arrested Miguel Mencias Tenorio, 22, following a seven-month investigation into an alleged prostitution ring. Undercover investigators made contact with him and scheduled a meeting with a prostitute. Police detained Tenorio and a woman at the meeting site. Detectives found that the woman was a victim of sex trafficking.
July 19, 2017: An Orange County prosecutor announced that Ariel Guizar, 36, accepted a plea deal and admitted to 17 felony counts of human trafficking and related charges involving seven victims. He will be sentenced to 31 years in prison. Guizar is facing additional federal charges of sex trafficking children in northern California.
July 19, 2017: An aspiring rapper was arrested in Vacaville and charged with pimping, human trafficking, and carrying a concealed weapon. An undercover officer, looking for teen-agers who were being exploited, saw a picture of a young woman on a website and arranged for a meeting. Before the meeting was to be held, she was in a vehicle that was part of a traffic stop with the accused, Idris B. Jamerson, 20.
July 13, 2017: Two Long Beach men have been convicted of a felony count of human trafficking after they advertised a minor on a website. Jamelvin Moore, 32, was sentenced to ten years and Michael Barnes, 35, was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
July 5, 2017: The Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force arrested Nigel Ezekiel Samuels, 25, a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, when he flew to Los Angeles to pick up two teens he thought he had recruited to become prostitutes. In fact, he had been communicating with a member of the task force who was posing as a 17-year old girl on social media. Samuels allegedly encouraged the “minor” and her fictitious 16-year-old-friend to work for him.
July 5, 2017: A Tulare County Superior Court judge sentenced Talia Vasquez, 20, to five years in state prison for human trafficking after she pled no contest to a count of human trafficking of a minor for a sex act. Vasquez befriended a minor victim who had run away from home, telling her that she had a good job giving massages to men in motel rooms. Photos led police to the motel room where they seized evidence showing that Vasquez intended the minor to engage in sexual acts.
July 4, 2017: In Hanford, Jelinajane Bedrijo Almario, 18, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for her role in the pimping and human trafficking of a 14 and 15 year old. Although she was a minor when arrested, she was tried as an adult for human trafficking, sending threatening emails to a family member of at least one of the girls, and making terrorist threats.
July 1, 2017: Jeffrey Berard Jenkins II, 26, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, sex with a minor, transportation of methamphetamine and cocaine for sale, and on an outstanding parole warrant. San Rafael authorities found him after Santa Rosa detectives informed them that a runaway teen might be in San Rafael being forced into prostitution. San Rafael detectives found the girl’s online advertisement and set up a “date” with her. When she met with the undercover police, she told him that she had a pimp, had been involved in prostitution activities, and that the pimp gave her drugs. Jenkins was arrested when he returned to the hotel room he had rented for him and the victim.
July 1, 2017: An operation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department led to the arrest of thirty people and the rescue of four minor girls, identified as “commercially, sexually exploited children.” Ten of those arrested were adult female sex workers.
July 1, 2017: Members of the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force arrested Howard Yuan, 30. He has been booked on charges of human trafficking and related charges. The victim is a 17-year old girl who was advertised on Backpage.com.
June 30, 2017: Two business owners in Greeley have been indicted on several charges, including alleged human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. A six-month investigation by local police and the FBI found evidence that Norman Boroumand, 45, raped one of the women and then forced her to have sex with Al Rashed, 38, while holding her down. Boroumand faces one count of human trafficking for sexual servitude, two counts of criminal attempt to commit human trafficking for sexual servitude; two counts of second-degree kidnapping, four counts of sexual assault, and numerous other charges. Al Rashed has been charged with one count of human trafficking for sexual servitude, two counts of criminal attempt to commit human trafficking for sexual servitude, and four counts of sexual assault.
July 26, 2017: Two men from Topeka have been arrested and charged with aggravated human trafficking in connection with the victimization of a minor. Scott Anderson, 26, and Braden Voss, 24, were also charged with crimes ranging from solicitation of a child to criminal sodomy.
July 27, 2017: In Carroll County,Kentucky State Police arrested Jesus Chavez, 56, three days after a grand jury indicted him on one count of human trafficking involving labor. Chavez is the owner of a general maintenance company in Bedford. He allegedly refused to pay for 60 hours of plumbing work that an employee did and, when asked about being paid, threatened to call immigration and have the employee deported.
July 21, 2017: A raid at a massage parlor in Shreveport, conducted in connection with a multi-state human trafficking investigation involving parlors in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama, uncovered evidence that indicated the owners of the Palm Massage parlor were involved in labor trafficking. Chinese females were allegedly trafficked from the east coast to Louisiana and forced to work. Bingbing li, 30, and Linan Tian, 34, were arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking.
July 7, 2017: A third person has been arrested in connection with a human trafficking investigation involving a 16-year old girl. Police believe that Jessica Lynn Smitherman, 31, worked with two co-conspirators in late May and early June to force a teen-aged girl into prostitution at motels in Jessup.
July 3, 2017: In a case that illustrates the importance of finding evidence to corroborate a victim’s statement when planning a prosecution of a human trafficking case, the charges against Anthony Williams, 30, have been placed on the inactive docket in Washington County Circuit Court. The victim, who was a minor at the time of revealing her alleged victimization to police, has now recanted her testimony
July 14, 2016: The Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit arrested Zhao “John” Liu, 47, and charged him with trafficking for sexual servitude, deriving support from prostitution, and maintaining a house of prostitution. Police collected information from informants that prostitution was occurring at a local apartment. Officials seized cash, condoms, cellphones, computers, and documents from the apartment. Nearly $56,000 in additional cash was discovered when police served a warrant at Liu’s home.
July 18, 2017: Ray Jerrill-Bruce Culbertson, 45, and Kayla Young-Cook, 28, have been arrested and charged with human trafficking in Lenawee County District Court. They have been charged with two counts of human trafficking, one involving involuntary servitude of a minor involved in commercial sex acts and the other involving forced labor of a minor, commercial sex acts, and serious injury. The charges stem from the pair allegedly forcing a 16-year old to move in with them to work as a prostitute.
July 20, 2017: Tyree Eric Jones, 23, a former Rochester Community and Technical College student and football player was sentenced in Stillwater to eight years for aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of an individual. In January 2012, Jones was convicted in Ramsey County with soliciting an underage girl to practice prostitution, promotion of prostitution, and sex trafficking. The victim in that case had a developmental level of a 13-year old.
July 11, 2017: The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced that Zhaxi Taxing, 41, has been charged with human trafficking. Investigators tracking a Backpage.com ad found a Chinese woman who said, through an interpreter, that she had been brought from New York to work as a prostitute. Also arrested and charged was Sonam Tsering of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Authorities say he was part of the same operation and connected to an apartment in Richfield where other women were located and admitted to engaging in prostitution.
July 6, 2017: Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced that Joshua Carlisle, 25, has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old child.
July 3, 2017: A Woodbury police investigation found more than a dozen commercial sex advertisements allegedly connected to Shaun Maubach, 32. He has been charged with one count of promoting prostitution and sex trafficking. Maubach was arrested for active warrants stemming from burglaries in Washington and Kansas. The postings were discovered after a detective searched Maubach’s phone.
July 1, 2017: Following a seven-month investigation, St. Cloud police arrested John Rasmussen, 31, on 2d degree sex trafficking charges.
July 31, 2017: In Lancaster County, Jacqueline Stebbins, 34, pled guilty to a single count of pandering of a minor in exchange for dropping two other human trafficking-related counts. She posted an ad online, advertising a 17-year old girl. She was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. Another person involved in the case, Kimberly Wheeler, received 18 months in prison for keeping a place of prostitution involving a minor, child abuse, and contributing to the delinquency of a child.
July 18, 2017: A Douglas County jury convicted Anthony Swindle, 45, on charges of sex trafficking of a 15-year old and a 21-year old in May. He has now been sentenced to at least 115 years in prison. The sentence was enhanced because Swindle is a habitual criminal with a lengthy criminal history: 96 arrests and two previous prison stints.
July 8, 2017: In Douglas County, prosecutors have charged Kevin Wilson, 29, with sexual assault on a child and human trafficking, labor, or sex trafficking. Court documents indicate the victim is between 12 and 16.
July 28, 2017: Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced the arrest of three individuals from Massachusetts on human trafficking charges. Galen Spriggs, 34, Jovana Jensen, 37, and Lazara White, 24, were charged with one count of human trafficking and one count of promoting prostitution in connection with the alleged trafficking of a 23-year old
July 18, 2017: Horace Spencer, 23, was indicted in Union County on human trafficking and promoting prostitution charges related to the alleged recruitment of a minor to perform prostitution services. The case of the second person arrested in the investigation, Carisma Snell, 19, has not yet been brought before the grand jury.
July 13, 2017: The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s office announced that two men allegedly involved in sex trafficking a 17-year old have been arrested and a third suspect is being sought. In December 2016, the three suspects allegedly forced a teen runaway into prostitution. They advertised her on Backpage.com. Authorities arrested Brandon Samuel, 26, and Ali Brown, 24.
July 21, 2017: New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined with the Albuquerque Police Department, the county sheriff, and Homeland Security personnel to announce that seven men were arrested in Albuquerque during an undercover operation targeting individuals who solicit sex from minors.
July 27, 2017: Ricardi “Dirty” Dumervil, 29, was convicted of sex trafficking two teenage girls and promoting prostitution after a two-week trial in Queens. He was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison. Trial testimony showed the Dumervil forced two women, 18 and 19, into prostitution, threatening them with violence if they refused to obey.
July 19, 2017: In Queens, sentencing has been set for September for two individuals who pled guilty to two counts of labor trafficking involving children. Sook Yeon Park and her husband Jeong Taek Lee brought two children, 8 and 11, into their home in 2010. They forced them to work long hours, seized their passports, and used fear, intimidation and physical force to compel them to both do household chores and work outside their home, turning their wages over to the couple. The biological parents sent $100,000 to the defendants to help them care for the children who have been now been returned to Korea.
July 18, 2017: Police investigating after a 16-year old girl escaped from an apartment where she was being held in Crown Heights have arrested two people on sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn. The suspects, Denina Roman, 21, and Taymel Harris, 20, were charged with sex trafficking, sexual misconduct, acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17, unlawful imprisonment, and promoting prostitution.
June 28, 2017: The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced that Michael Lamb, 35, was convicted of running a sex trafficking scheme in New York and New Jersey that exploited homeless and runaway teens. He was reported by Covenant House staff after he posted ads trying to recruit teens from the shelter. He will be sentenced in September.
July 10, 2017: Five individuals have been arrested by Fayetteville police for their involvement in sex trafficking. An investigation begun in March revealed that victims were coerced into performing sexual services through fear of physical violence. Shirley Weatherhold-Becker, 45, Stanley Olaf Koberger, 24, Jeremy Gentry Jr., 22, and Jonathan Michael Becker, 19, have all been charged with felony conspiracy to commit human trafficking. Kelly Brooke Morison, 23, has been charged with child abuse.
July 6, 2017: A grandfather reported to police that he had concerns about his granddaughter’s situation. A subsequent investigation by Alamance County law enforcement led to the arrest of several individuals and locating two women who were being trafficked in Burlington. Deputies found cocaine and drug paraphernalia inside the hotel room. Briana Lashera Morrison was arrested on one count of promoting prostitution. Carla Jo Bailey was arrested on drug charges and Joseph Daniel was taken into custody on four outstanding warrants. William Reynolds is being held on $3 million bond on 14 counts of human trafficking, 14 counts of sexual servitude, and 1 count of promoting prostitution. He has a significant criminal record.
July 24, 2017: In the first human trafficking case taken to trial in Muskingum County, Lori Henry was sentenced to 15 years of prison. A jury in June found Henry guilty of a number of charges, including trafficking in persons. She allowed a 76-year old man to sexually abuse her eight-year old daughter in exchange for money. Larry McKee, the abuser, pled guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison.
July 15, 2017: A Portland, Oregon, man has been arrested on 16 counts involving human trafficking. Kevin M. Jones, 39, made contact with an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a minor. Jones made arrangements to meet with an individual posing on a minor in a parking garage. Once there, he was arrested on charges including luring a minor, online sexual corruption of a minor in the second degree, online sexual corruption of a minor in the first degree, and related charges.
July 28, 2017: A bogus minister and a fellow drug dealer are alleged to have victimized five drug addicts at a “church” in Dauphin County. According to the district attorney, Daerell “Big Fat Cuz” Holmes, 20, and Edward “Big Web” Edmonds, 31, would make the victims steal Sony Playstations from stores in return for crack cocaine and heroin. One of the victims, a 16-year old, was filmed engaging in a sex act. It is also alleged that the victims sometimes had to engage in sex in return for drugs and that there was torture involving beatings and shooting the victims with BB guns.
July 18, 2017: Rebecca Shadle, 38, was arrested for allegedly receiving money for allowing men to inappropriately touch a 7-year old girl. Greensburg police have now arrested two more suspects in connection with the case. David Smith is suspected of being one of the men who abused the child and Shadle’s husband was arrested on suspicion of promoting prostitution related to the investigation. Ms. Shadle has been charged with trafficking minors, sexual exploitation of children, and related charges.
July 13, 2017: During an undercover sting in Monroe County, a Tennessee woman was rescued and two people were charged with trafficking her through online advertisements. Tarkir Bell, 20, and Malik Edwards 39, met the woman in Virginia and offered to help her get back to Tennessee. They then forced her into prostitution. During the sting, seven men were also charged with patronizing a prostitute and one woman was charged with prostitution.
July 20, 2017: Three Nashville businesses were raided by police on suspicion of being involved in human trafficking. The business, Shine Nails, Blue Sapphire, and Healing Arts Massage are allegedly owned by the four same people: Loi Lam, 57, Jie Allen, 46, Ying Jiang, 27, and Ying Zhang, 33. Authorities contend that Lan was responsible for transporting the purported victims from a home to the various businesses. Law enforcement officers watching Shine Nails saw ten men go into the salon and stay about an hour.
July 28, 2017: Texas law enforcement officials arrested 37 people in July in and around Midland County as part of an ongoing investigation into human trafficking. The investigation led to the rescue of victims. Those arrested were charged with a variety of crimes including promotion of prostitution, sexual performance of a minor, and distribution of harmful material to a minor.
July 21, 2017: Texas Highway Patrol troopers located a woman who had called 911 to report she was being kidnapped. She told police that she had fallen asleep after using marijuana and, when she woke up, she was in Junction, her captors had posted her picture on Backpage.com, refused her request to return her to Houston. They told her they were going to California and she was part of the “team.” She was located in El Paso. Mikhail Jordan King, 27, and Keinangela Raegene Evans, 18, were arrested.
July 7, 2017: Harris County detectives responded to an ad depicting a young girl found a 14-year old child who had been lured through social media from Chicago to Texas. Detectives arrested Teresa Henry, 20, and Centurrie Garret, 24, on human trafficking and prostitution charges.
July 2, 2017: A San Antonio attorney, scheduled to go on trial later this year, was indicted on six counts of sex trafficking. Mark Benavides now faces over 40 sex-related felony charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault, and compelling prostitution. According to investigators, Benavides coerced some of his clients into having sex with him in exchange for legal services. Some of these encounters were captured on video camera. The sex trafficking indictment accuses Benavides of “using force, fraud and coercion” to cause six women to engage in conduct prohibited by state prostitution laws.
July 21, 2017: In Ogden, the Utah Attorney General’s Office presented evidence against defendants Lynnsie Reddish, 21, and Terrance Jones, 31, at a preliminary hearing. The case involves seven adult women victims, all of whom testified at the hearing. The defendant was bound over on four counts of human trafficking, five counts of aggravated exploitation of prostitution, and one count each of aggravated sex abuse, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, pattern of unlawful activity, and money laundering. The charges spring from a SECURE Strike Force investigation into a large commercial sex operation in Northern Utah. The defendants are alleged to have trafficked several adult women and used violence, drug addiction, and fraudulent promises to control them.
July 19, 2017: Siblings were recently arrested in Chesterfield County and charged with sex trafficking and related charges. Sergio Luna Alvarado, 25, and Alicia Luna Alvarado, 27, are accused of turning their residence into a bawdy house. Neighbors confirmed that men were often seen coming and going from the home.
July 13, 2017: Richland detectives arrested John R. Pine, 51. He has been charged with two counts of attempted child sex trafficking and coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. Pine communicated online with the minor victim whom he then sexually assaulted. He was arrested when he arranged to meet the victim again at a local park.
July 5, 2017: Seattle police conducted a weeklong prostitution sting and arrested 139 men. Among those arrested were a convicted child molester registered as a sex offender, a formerly registered sex offender, and a man who brought a gun, knife, and handcuffs with him.
July 13, 2017: Two adults and one juvenile have been arrested in connection with a human trafficking investigation in Brown County. Undercover investigators arrested Alexus Williams after ads for sex were posted on a website. Deon Barron anda juvenile were in the car with Williams. Williams has alleged that the juvenile was her pimp.
July 7, 2017: In Madison, two women have reported that Harry Miller, 59, exploited their heroin addictions and forced them into prostitution. He allegedly threatened to withhold drugs from them, physically abused them, kept all the money made, and threatened the life of one of their pets. Miller has been arrested on $10,000 bail.
July 25, 2017: A sex trafficking investigation by a task force composed of Cheyenne police, the FBI, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security, was held in connection to events surrounding Cheyenne Frontier Days. The investigation was focused on identifying and recovering victims of commercial sex trafficking. Seven individuals were arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution.
Other Items of Interest
Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability reported an increase in the number of children being forced into the sex trade. In 2016, law enforcement agencies reported 356 cases; in 2015, the number was 264. Ninety-one percent of the cases involved children between the ages of 14 and 17; ninety-three percent were female.
Marinus Industries, creator of Traffic Jam software, has worked with 75 law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices and played a role in recovering more than 120 human trafficking victims. Traffic Jam has now been enhanced with Face Search, the first facial recognition tool developed to make sex trafficking investigations faster and more accurate.
Student lawyers at the University of Baltimore School of Law are partnering with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service to assist victims of human trafficking to vacate or expunge convictions for prostitution.
An article in the Journal of Emergency Nursingdetails the implementation of educating on human trafficking and the development of a treatment algorithm in an emergency department of a hospital. There was a 2-pronged identification approach including medical red flags created by a risk-assessment tool embedded in the electronic health record and a silent notification process.
In March, the United National University convened a meeting of experts to work together to find ways that the financial system can assist with disrupting the estimated $150 billion flowing as proceeds from human trafficking and child labor. The report on the deliberations and outcomes is available here.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is working with IPATH to raise awareness of human trafficking that may increase around the Brickyard 500.
The Kansas Attorney General’s office has trained more than half of all sworn law enforcement officers in Kansas on identifying and responding to human trafficking.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to help combat human trafficking. NACS will provide training and awareness materials to its members without cost.
An article by the Associated Press provides details of alleged labor trafficking by a church, the Word of Faith fellowship. According to an article, the church brought young people from its affiliate churches in Brazil to the United States to the “mother” church in North Carolina. Passports were seized and these individuals were forced to work up to 15 hours a day with little or not pay for businesses owned by members of the church and at a school run by the church.
Judy McKee is the Editor of Human Trafficking Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6044. The Human Trafficking Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail email@example.com.