Human Trafficking Newsletter December 2016

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

Federal

In the case of Sorihin et al. v. Nguyen, reported last month, the federal district court for the northern district of California has ruled that the civil lawsuit under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act can proceed, denying the defendant companies’ motion to dismiss. The lawsuit alleges that two U.S. and two Thai firms engaged in labor trafficking in supplying shrimp to U.S. retailers.

State

In Los Angeles, City Attorney Mike Feuer has sued the owner of the Motel 6 chain, alleging that the company and its managers allowed rampant drug, gang, prostitution, and human trafficking activity at its Sylmar property. The nuisance abatement suit alleges that there have been 10 arrests for prostitution, 22 drug related arrests, and 34 arrests for battery, burglary, and felony firearms possession at the motel.

Legislative Action

State

Michigan has passed three human trafficking bills. HR 5542 makes it easier for human trafficking victims to expunge local ordinance prostitution violations resulting from human trafficking. HR 5543 permits juvenile victims of human trafficking to expunge local ordinance prostitution crimes. HB 5544 increases the penalty to 15 years for sex trafficking.

In the Texas legislature, Sen. Sylvia Garcia has filed SB 128. It would require anyone applying for or renewing a Texas commercial driver license to undergo training on how to spot and report human trafficking.

Local

Prince George’s County in Maryland has passed legislation that will hold landlords and property managers accountable for prostitution and human trafficking at their rental properties. The bill makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly allow use of an apartment or home for prostitution or trafficking.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

California

Nov. 18, 2016: In Orange County, Antonio Romano Caserta, 26, was sentenced to fourteen years and eight months in prison following his pleading guilty to felony counts of human trafficking a minor and dissuading a witness by force or threat and related charges. He began grooming a 14-year old and had sexual relations with her. He had already been convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for giving a controlled substance to a minor, and unlawful sexual intercourse. While in jail, during 1,400 phone calls to the victim, he told her to continue prostituting herself and threatened her if she should report him.

Nov. 9, 2016: A prosecution which began with a sting operation by the Tulare Police Department has ended in the sentencing of Anthony Lott, 25, to nine years and four months in prison for sex trafficking. Lott pled no contest to two felony counts of trafficking of minors for a sex act, two felony counts of pandering by procuring a minor over the age of 16, one felony count of pimping, one felony count of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, and a misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle within a city limit.

Nov. 8, 2016: A man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of using an online escort service, Angelic Secrets, in the trafficking of a minor in Orange County. The minor was located after a man reported to Costa Mesa police that his 17-year old daughter was possibly a victim of human trafficking.

Nov. 3, 2016: The Riverside Anti-Trafficking Task Force arrested Cerious Mark Anthony Griffin, 24, on an outstanding felony arrest warrant. He is charged with commercial sexual exploitation of a 17-year old.

Colorado

Nov. 23, 2016: In Weld County, Paul Burman, 33, was convicted in August on 32 criminal counts for prostituting both adults and teenagers. This month he was sentenced to 248 years to life in prison. Burman plied his victims with drugs and alcohol and beat and sexually assaulted one of the victims for not making enough money and talking back to him.

Oct. 31, 2016: Brian Williams, 32, was found guilty in September of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude and numerous other associated crimes. Despite the victim’s request that her trafficker not be imprisoned, Weld County District Judge Thomas Quamman sentenced Williams to 24 years in prison, the maximum sentence under state law for the trafficking conviction, noting that there were larger issues at play here. The case was prosecuted by Janet Drake of the Colorado Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Unit and one of NAGTRI’s esteemed faculty members.

Connecticut

Nov. 18, 2016: The Computer Crimes Unit of the Connecticut State Police arrested Charles Stone, 36, of Plainville. He was charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault, patronizing a prostitute, trafficking in persons, weapons in a motor vehicle, and attempted risk of injury to a minor. He allegedly tried to meet with a young girl to have sex with her.

Florida

Nov. 15, 2016: Ronald McBride, 23, was sentenced to 50 years prison after a jury found him guilty in June of human trafficking, aggravated assault with a weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a firearm, false imprisonment, and sexual battery. The victim was badly beaten by McBride; she ran to the Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, hoping that he would not follow her. A motorist saw her and called 911.

Georgia

Nov. 15, 2016: DeKalb County law enforcement, responding to a mother’s report that her daughter had run away and she suspected she was at an America’s Best Inn, went to the location and encountered Milton Henry. He admitted he was there with two women who were then shopping. When one returned, Henry began yelling at her, asking if she was going to leave. She ran away. Police found her crying across the street. She told them that she feared for her life because Henry would hold a gun to her head, beat her, and make her sleep with other men. Henry was arrested and faces human trafficking, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment charges.

Nov. 9, 2016: Columbia County authorities arrested three women – Sun Okay Kim, 62; Mun Sook Choi, 49; and Sunja Song, 36 and charged them with trafficking people for labor or sexual servitude at a spa and on prostitution charges.

Indiana

Nov. 10, 2016: In Indianapolis, police responded to a report of a disturbance at a residence. There, a 17-year old girl told the officers she didn’t want to live with her court-appointed guardian, Ciera Beauchamp. Investigators later learned that the girl was being forced to prostitute herself. Police found 29 different ads posted on Backpage.com. Beauchamp, her sister, Brandi, and Ashley Breedlove, Ciera Beauchamp’s girl-friend, were arrested and charged with promotion of human trafficking of a minor and promoting prostitution.

Kansas

Nov. 13, 2016: After a preliminary hearing in Topeka, Anthony Samuel Long was bound over to be tried on 32 felony charges including aggravated human trafficking, indecent solicitation of a child aged 14 to 15 tied to an unlawful sex act, electronic solicitation of a child younger than 16 tied to an unlawful sex act, and 27 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The exploitation charges are tied to sexually explicit videos of photographs of four underage girls. Long claimed the phone belonged to his grandmother, but evidence showed otherwise.

Louisiana

Nov. 4, 2016: In two separate investigations, the Special Victims Unit of the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations has arrested two men on charges of human trafficking. The first investigation involved the report of a missing 16-year old who was thought to have been communicating with an unidentified male in the Baton Rouge area. She was located in a motel in New Orleans East. The second investigation involved the recovery of a 17-year old girl, who had been reporting missing from a New Orleans hotel room.

Michigan

Nov. 22, 2016: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced that his office has filed numerous charges against Jonathan Colon, 24, of Bronx, New York, including human trafficking, prostitution, and pandering. The charges result from an investigation coordinated through the Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes Task Force and the Roseville Police Department which discovered that Colon was seemingly conducting an online “escort” operation involving two women who he kept victimized by giving them controlled addictive drugs.

Nov. 16, 2016: In Genesee County, two brothers, Darryl Allen Miller, 28, and Chavez Lee Miller, 27, face 24 felony charges, including multiple counts of human trafficking, prostitution, delivery of cocaine, kidnapping, racketeering, and using a computer to commit a crime. The brothers allegedly kept their four victims under their control by using drugs and physical threats and assaults.

Nov. 11, 2016: An investigation into possible human trafficking and prostitution being facilitated through social media has led to the arrest of 20 people in the Port Huron and Marysville area. The Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a collaborative effort with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to curb criminal activity in the area, led the investigation.

Minnesota

Nov. 15, 2016: The Stearns County Attorney’s Office reported that Elijah Ahmad Milsap, 27, pled guilty to second-degree sex trafficking, admitting he trafficked two women in St. Cloud in the spring of 2016. Milsap was sentenced to 21 years in prison. His co-defendant, Jade Myanne Orcena, 37, pled guilty to second-degree sex trafficking and will be sentenced in February.

Nov. 11, 2016: St. Cloud police, with assistance from allied agencies, conducted a sting operation, targeting people who seek sex with young girls. Four men are now facing felony charges for sex trafficking.

Nov. 3, 2016: In St. Cloud, Alex Trent Hazelrigg, 21, was sentenced to 94 months in prison after he pled guilty to sex trafficking a minor. He will be required to register as a sex offender. A co-defendant, Duane Taylor Hanson, was sentenced to 17 years in prison on his similar plea. He also pled guilty to first-degree attempted murder. It was a shooting spree in a motel parking lot that led investigators to the scene where the minor victim was located.

Oct. 31, 2016: In St. Paul, Damon Michael DiMartino, 41, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowable sentence under Minnesota law, for first-degree sex trafficking. He pled guilty last June. Evidence showed 13 different instances of pimping between July 12 and mid-October 2015.

New Jersey

Nov. 3, 2016: Runnemede police, responding to a report of a domestic dispute at a borough motel, arrested Chad Conshafter, 40. He was initially charged with aggravated assault and promoting prostitution. Further investigation led to a human trafficking charge.

North Carolina

Nov. 17, 2016: An incident in August has led to the arrest by Raleigh police of Michael Dwain Sanders, 36. He is charged with human trafficking and kidnapping involving two people.

Ohio

Nov. 14, 2016: Reynoldsburg resident Thomas W. Williamson, 34, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on his pleading guilty to one count of trafficking and two counts of sexual battering. His girlfriend, Michelle Feldman, was sentenced to seven years. They used an online scheme to lure women to their home, claiming to be a military man looking to start a relationship. Three women came to their home and were told they could stay with them (allegedly the military man’s best friends) until he arrived. Once there, they were forced to perform slave labor and turn over money including Social Security payments, were physically abused, and coerced into sex with the couple or other women in the house.

Oregon

Nov. 10, 2016: Tracy Scott Walls is being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center with bail set at $ 10.29 million. A grand jury indicted him in September on 10 counts of first degree sexual assault and compelling prostitution and numerous other charges. He is accused of raping a young girl and using her for sex trafficking. Previously, Walls was convicted of 8 felonies, 1 misdemeanor, and 25 probation violations.

Pennsylvania

Nov. 10, 2016: A Wayne County jury convicted Noel Brown, 41, of Trafficking in Minors and a plethora of associated felonies and misdemeanors. Brown lured a 15-year old female from her home, took her to his residence and then to a Days Inn Hotel. He got her drunk, sent a partially nude photo of her over the Internet, and even had her sign a contract to engage in services for clients, including massage, stripping and “comfort as defined by the host.” This is the first sex trafficking case prosecuted in the county.

Nov. 1, 2016: After hotel managers in Richland notified local police of suspicious activity, investigators discovered a possible human trafficking operation. Two adult women were found as well as 50 stamp bags of heroin. Barshay Reqwan Dunbar, 35, was arrested and was initially charged with four felony counts of promoting prostitution and various drug charges.

South Carolina

Nov. 3, 2016: In Columbia, Trevonta Matthews, was sentenced to 17 years in prison on his pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, four counts of human trafficking, and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. One of his victims was a 15-year-old girl.

Texas

Nov. 9, 2016: In Lubbock, Marcelia Sanchez, 19, and Dimitrise Lyghts were indicted on charges of trafficking a minor. Sanchez agreed to help prostitute the child by posting her picture on a website and driving the girl to various locations for “dates.” Sanchez has now pled guilty to the charges and will be sentenced at a later date.

Vermont

Nov. 16, 2016: The Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations and the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force opened a joint investigation into a reported sexual assault in August. A Winooski man, Myron Bullock, 38, has been arrested in connection with that assault and with kidnapping the same victim in October and forcing her into sex trafficking.

Washington

Nov. 18, 2016: After a seven-month investigation, Bellingham police arrested two people on suspicion of promoting prostitution and leading organized crime. The arrests occurred after search warrants were served on an illegal massage business and a nearby home where police believe trafficking victims lived.

News of General Interest

A federal grand jury sitting in the eastern district of California indicted Satish Kartan, 43, and his wife, Sharmistha Barai, 38, on forced labor charges. According to the indictment, between February 2014 and October 2016, Kartan and Barai hired workers to perform domestic labor in their homes in New Mexico, California, and elsewhere. They advertised in India-based newspapers, making false claims regarding wages and duties of employment. They forced the employees to work 18 hours a day, did not pay wages, and used force, physical restraint, and coercion to get the workers to perform the labor. In one instance, Kartan allegedly grabbed a hand of one worker and burned it over the flames of a gas stove.

Two men from New York were arrested in connection with allegedly forcing employees to work for them at a Halal chicken slaughterhouse in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Abdul Wahid, 54, of Queens, and Mohammed Iqbal Kabir, 42, of the Bronx, have been charged with labor trafficking in connection with forcing undocumented residents, who lived in a boarding house in front of the business with no heat or hot water, to work 70 to 100 hours for six to seven days a week for $290, from which $40 was deducted for housing.

An article in Women and Criminal Justice explores the conditions under which sex traffickers allow their victims access to telecommunications devices.

The issue of potential forced labor in illegal marijuana grow fields in California was highlighted in a news report on channel 5 in Oregon. According to police records, Humboldt County has the highest number of people reported missing across the entire state of California. Undersheriff William Honsal was quoted as saying that many of those reported missing have been forced into slave labor and locked behind multiple gates in rugged, rural areas of the county.

Local prosecutors in the San Francisco Bay Area in California have filed charges against several police officers in regard to allegations that they engaged in sexual activity with a minor.

Federal prosecutors have arrested a Chicago police officer and charged him with sex trafficking of a minor. He is alleged to have been involved in a sexual relationship with the child.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission, in collaboration with the University of Dayton Human Rights Center, released guidelines, resources, and best practices to assist with the development of anti-human trafficking programs for youth. The manual is aimed primarily at middle and high school students.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that Stephen Patrick O’Meara, the state’s first human trafficking task force coordinator, retired the end of November. O’Meara planned and executed the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force plan. Glen Parks, who has an extensive history fighting human trafficking overseas, will assume the coordinator position.


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 jmckee@naag.org.

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