Human Trafficking Newsletter December 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
A British aspiring actress, Kadian Noble, has sued Harvey Weinstein in federal court in New York, alleging violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The allegations state that Weinstein lured her into his hotel room in Cannes, France, on the promise of a movie role but, instead, forced himself on her. The lawsuit states that the TVPA’s provision regarding engaging in a commercial sex act overseas forms the basis for the lawsuit.
S. 2080 has been introduced. It would increase the role of the financial industry in combating human trafficking. The bill would require the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to analyze trafficking-related anti-money laundering efforts by the government and financial institutions. It also would enhance coordination between the Treasury Department and law enforcement entities to track financing of human trafficking activity.
H.R. 2228, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, passed the House. It includes provisions by which a human trafficking survivor can vacate an arrest or conviction for a non-violent offense that was committed as a result of trafficking.
A substitute for H.R. 1865, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, is circulating in Congress. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, former Congressman Chris Cox, representing Net Choice, suggested it as an alternative. He originally proposed the substitute as an amendment to the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. 1952, but it is now being suggested as an amendment to the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C. 2421. It would include a provision that would penalize users of a facility of interstate or foreign commerce to promote prostitution if that user acts in reckless disregard of the fact that human trafficking is occurring; however, the suggested legislation does not seem to include a carve out for existing state law nor allow a private cause of action.
In Wisconsin, AB 634 is being considered. Under the proposed bill, the Attorney General would have the authority to subpoena hotels for their internet records providing a customer’s name, address, phone number, and the duration of the stay.
Nov. 14, 2017: Corey Davis, 27, pled guilty to human trafficking charges that alleged he victimized three individuals. He still faces charges for kidnapping, rape, and sexual torture in Lauderdale County. He allegedly contacted his victims through social media. Evidence included forensic reports, cell phone records, and GPS tracking devices.
Nov. 19, 2017: Following a traffic stop by Siloam Springs patrol officers, a man from Springdale was arrested on charges of sex trafficking a minor, sexual assault 4th degree, and internet stalking of a child. He is being held in the Washington County Detention Center.
Nov. 29, 2017: Two residents of Las Vegas have been charged with trafficking a 16-year old girl from Utah in Orange County. Brandon Hunter and Danielle Bates allegedly met the girl in Las Vegas and took her to California where they arranged “dates” for her. Hunter has been accused of being the trafficker and Bates is accused of recruiting for him. Police were called to a motel when Bates and Hunter got into a fight with each other. The teen girl was in the room with the couple.
Nov. 17, 2017: A human trafficking undercover operation in Compton has resulted in the rescue of a 13-year old girl and the arrest of 17 men for soliciting sex.
Nov. 15, 2017: Louis Ray Coleman is facing life in prison after being convicted in Richmond of a multitude of felonies that relate to two separate kidnappings in 2016. The victims were an adult and a 12-year old girl. In both instances, Colemanattempted to solicit them into the sex trade. Fifteen years ago, Coleman took a 13-year old girl off the streets, forced her to live in his basement, and pimped her out to clients. He served only 71 days on a probation violation. In 1995, he kidnapped a 12-year old girl, force fed her alcohol, and sexually abused her. Coleman pled to sexual battery of a minor and received a jail sentence of two years. However, with the California human trafficking law now on the books, authorities recognized him as a serial human trafficker and child abuser.
Nov. 14, 2017: In Fresno, Herbert Deon Goodwin Jr., 34, was sentenced to 36 years in prison for trafficking two victims, one 17 and one 42. While on parole Goodwin got a job that gave away government-assistance cellphones to the needy. Both of his victims had received a cell phone. The teen-ager called the Human Trafficking Hotline to ask for assistance; police responded to her call and arrested Goodwin. The adult victim testified that she would be punished if she didn’t follow Goodwin’s set of rules, being punched in the eye when she failed to do so. He also kept her mother’s ashes to keep her from leaving.
Nov. 21, 2017: Brock Franklin, 31, was found guilty in March of 30 counts including violation of the Organized Crime Control Act, soliciting for child prostitution, sexual assault, and kidnapping by an Arapahoe County jury. He was sentenced to 472 years in prison, the longest sentence for a human trafficking case in U.S. history. Five others involved in the human trafficking ring pled guilty and were sentenced earlier, with their sentences ranging from a four year deferred sentence, six and ten years in community corrections, and eighteen years in prison.
Nov. 25, 2017: State police have arrested a registered sex offender, Devin Quirk, 38, in Hartford after officials learned that he had acquired a date rape drug to give a preteen who was being trafficked. In addition to being charged with conspiracy to commit trafficking of persons, he was charged with risk of injury to a child, first degree criminal attempt at sexual assault, and patronizing a prostitute.
Nov. 30, 2017: In Palm Beach County, a father called sheriff’s investigators reporting that he believed his daughter had been raped, abused, and forced into prostitution by Alston Williams 41. Undercover detectives contacted the woman and arranged to meet her at a hotel. Williams drove her and another woman, believing that it was an appointment for a “date.” Williams allegedly used shackles, batons, baseball bats, and a Taser to control his victims. After his arrest, he was denied bond.
Nov. 21, 2017: Two individuals from Panama City have been arrested on charges of human trafficking and prostitution. According to law enforcement officials, Tyler Culver, 27, and Crystal Marshal, 31, coerced at least two individuals to perform sexual acts in exchange for money and housing and then threatened them if they did not comply. The victims were allegedly not allowed out of the house nor allowed to contact anyone.
Nov. 20, 2017: An undercover sting investigation has led to the rescue of a human trafficking victim and the arrest of her alleged perpetrator, Daniel Jose Agosto. According to Palm Beach investigators, a woman who had been advertised on the internet was contacted by undercover detectives. When she arrived at the meeting and was taken into custody, she told detectives that she had been trafficked for two years and, whenever she refused to work or suspected she might leave, Agosto would beat her.
Nov. 17, 2017: Juan Cruz, 41, has been arrested after a month-long investigation by Bradenton authorities into his allegedly trafficking two women. One of the women was homeless and moved in with an acquaintance. While staying with her, she met Cruz who began to give both of the women heroin and crack for free and then demanded they work for him as prostitutes. He also locked them in a storage unit for hours at a time without food or bathroom facilities.
Nov. 16, 2017: A Palm Beach jury found Christopher Thomas guilty on one count each of human trafficking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, and aggravated assault. Thomas is one of the three men accused in the kidnapping in February of a 19-year-old woman from a Boynton Beach sober home.
Nov. 10. 2017: Alachua County Sheriff’s officers responded to a call regarding suspicious activity at a local motel. Investigators found a teen-ager in the room with an unrelated male. Shawntorria Cortez Alford, 27, has been arrested on charges of human trafficking a child under 18 years of age, procurement for prostitution, and interfering with custody of a minor. She is being held on $2.2 million bond.
Nov. 14, 2017: A multi-jurisdictional operation, dubbed “Operation Hidden Guardian,” involved investigators posing as children online. Georgia law enforcement targeted men who were seeking sex with underage children. Two men arrested during the operation appeared and pled not guilty to various charges involving trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. In total, 21 men were arrested during the multi-jurisdictional operation centered in the Columbus area.
Nov. 27, 2017: Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that Charles Wesley Walls, 36, was arrested and charged with one count of unlawful use of electronic communications system to procure a minor for sex and one count of promoting human trafficking with a person under age. Walls was arrested in Lawrenceburg by Kentucky State Police on an indictment obtained by an investigator with the AG’s Cyber Crimes Unit.
Nov. 20, 2017: In Baton Rouge, Carlos Lampley was sentenced to 40 years, to be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspended sentence. He was found guilty in May on one count each of trafficking a child for sexual purposes, human trafficking, and attempted human trafficking. He received fifteen years for his conviction of trafficking a 17-year old, twenty years for his conviction involving a 20-year old, and five years for attempted human trafficking of a 15-year old.
Nov. 29, 2017: Thomas Jones, 36, was sentenced by a Frederick County Circuit Court judge to 25 years in prison. He was found guilty in September of second-degree rape and three counts of human trafficking. His victim was 17.
Nov. 21, 2017: In Elkridge, police arrested Leroy Robinson, 34, and charged him with human trafficking, prostitution, and drug distribution. He was observed with William Wyatt, walking from a motel under suspicious circumstances. Wyatt was carrying a knife, handgun, seven vials of crack cocaine, five bags of marijuana, more than $650 in cash, two cellphones, and a key to a room at the motel. A later investigation determined that Robinson had rented a room at the hotel and arranged a prostitution appointment for Wyatt in exchange for drugs. Detectives located ads for sexual services on the internet. Wyatt was charged with multiple firearms violations and drug distribution.
Nov. 17, 2017: Keven Oswald Joseph, 36, was arrested by Howard County police for allegedly trafficking two women, one from Pennsylvania and one from California, in a Laurel hotel. An anonymous tip led detectives to a website which advertised the women for sexual services. Arrangements were made to meet the women; later investigation revealed that Joseph had posted the website ads, coordinated appointments, and forced the two women to prostitute themselves, handing all of the money earned over to Joseph.
Nov. 29, 2017: Brad Cournaya, 50, was sentenced by an Ingham County Circuit Court judge to more than 16 years in prison after he was found guilty in October on one count of trafficking a minor for commercial sexual activity and using a computer to commit a crime. The judge found that rehabilitation was unlikely. Cournaya has served time for raping a woman and, on a separate case, allowing a child into his room to view pornography. He was sentenced in late 2014 for a violation involving the state’s sex offender registry.
Nov. 14, 2017: A California woman who had profited from, but otherwise had a limited role in, an international sex trafficking ring received a stayed sentence Monday after pleading guilty to one felony count of racketeering. As part of the plea agreement, Fangyao Wu agreed to cooperate in the prosecution against three others who were part of the ring. Most of the victims were foreign-born, mainly Korean or Chinese. The women were forced to earn at least $800 a day and had to pay for food, housing, and transportation.
Nov. 11, 2017: A second man has been sentenced in a case involving a homeless woman under civil commitment who was trafficked in Woodbury. Dustin Jeffrey Arthur Heichert, 31, received credit for his 129 days in jail and will now complete a one-year prison sentence followed by over seven years of supervised probation. His co-defendant, Adam James Krimpelbein, was sentenced in May to seven years’ incarceration.
Nov. 6, 2017: Three individuals were sentenced to state prison for trafficking a 16-year old girl from New York to New Jersey. Ernestine Bowman, 33, was sentenced to 10 years. She ran a prostitution ring with her husband Glen Bowman, Sr., who pled guilty and will be sentenced later. His son, Glen Bowman Jr., 23, was sentenced to six years on his pleading guilty to second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution. Jessica Copeland, 20, was sentenced to six years; she pled guilty to second-degree facilitating human trafficking. The case was prosecuted by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. The investigation began as an undercover operation by the South Hackensack Police Department.
Nov. 28, 2017: A state supreme court justice in Buffalo sentenced Derek Harris, 23, to eleven years in prison and five years of post-release supervision for running a sex trafficking operation with victims as young as 14. Harris is the first person in Erie County be convicted under the state sex trafficking law.
Nov. 21, 2017: Randy Lambach, 45, and Joseph VanWert, 65, have been charged with human trafficking and a number of related charges. Investigators in Pittsfield allege that they recruited female victims who were targeted because of their addiction issues.
Nov. 27, 2017: In August, Raleigh police charged Joseph Lewis, 33, with human trafficking and prostituting a minor. He was finally arrested when a state trooper stopped him for speeding on I-40. Although he first lied about where he was living, police found evidence that he lives in Newburgh, New York. His bail was set at $252,000.
Nov. 17, 2017: The owner of an unlicensed Knightdale massage parlor was arrested on human trafficking charges. Ri Pang Lan, 42, was also charged with promoting prostitution. An investigation was begun after complaints were received from citizens about suspicious activity.
Nov. 30, 2017: In connection with a crackdown on sex trafficking by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office,ads were placed as part of an undercover operation, allegedly advertising women for sexual encounters. Ten men were arrested and face charges of solicitation.
Nov. 15, 2017: James Rowles, 46, and Pascal Williams, 46, have been charged in a 29-count indictment with trafficking in humans, kidnapping, and promoting or compelling prostitution. Rowles is already in custody on an unrelated drug charge and a warrant has been issued for Williams. According to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office, four victims were held against their will and forced into prostitution.
Nov. 28, 2017: In the second human trafficking case brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office this month, Kenneth Crowell, 34, and Barry Schiff, 50, were arrested for allegedly coercing six women into prostitution in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies found evidence that the two used drugs, violence, and threats to control the women.
Nov. 5, 2017: The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office is prosecuting a case against Kashamba John, 29, and Arianna Somerville, 27, after a statewide investigating grand jury developed evidence leading to human trafficking charges against the couple. A third defendant in the case, Tyler Bachtel, remains a fugitive. The alleged victim is an adult from California who was flown to the East Coast, held against her will, and forced into prostitution in hotels in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. She was forced to have sex with as many as 30 men a day. An Uber driver, who had been called to take her to a “date,” took her to police when she told him she was a victim of human trafficking.
Nov. 9, 2017: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted an undercover sting investigation targeting demand in Brentwood. Twenty-two men who intended to purchase sex from a child were indicted. Eleven of those are now in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nov. 24, 2017: Constables rescued a 17-year old girl who was forced into prostitution in north Harris County. Three suspects were arrested. One of them was reported to have threatened the teen by holding gun to her head.
Nov. 3, 2017: A tip from the National Human Trafficking Hotline led Fairfax County police to a motel in Springfield where they found one woman in the lobby and two others in the hotel that they believe are human trafficking victims. Jamon Kanee Murphy, 22, has been charged with two counts of commercial sex trafficking, two counts of abduction with a firearm, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Nov. 17, 2017: Oshkosh police officers conducting an undercover sting focused on persons wanting to pay for sex, arrested eight men, ranging in age from20 to 60.
Other Items of Interest
A Texas federal grand jury indicted 22 alleged gang members on charges that include drug dealing and human trafficking. According to the indictment, the gang members allegedly promised Mexican citizens who wanted to be smuggled into the United States that they could work off the debt for being smuggled by working in restaurants in Houston. They were, instead, forced to work in brothels operated by gang members.
Three Ohio pastors have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Toledo on conspiracy to sex traffic children: Kenneth Butler, 37, Cordell Jenkins, 47, and Anthony Haynes, 38. One of the victims was 14 at the time that the trafficking began.
An eye-opening video has been posted that discusses how addicts are being used to commit insurance fraud and also being victimized by being trafficked out of sober houses in Florida and elsewhere.
Ingham County, Michigan, has initiated the Phoenix Court, a treatment program for underage victims of sex trafficking and other types of sexual exploitation. The program allows the child and their families to receive treatment and avoid criminal charges.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced an initiative to train hotel staff throughout the state regarding red flags for human trafficking and how to report suspected trafficking.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has partnered with Street Grace and the Montana Broadcasters Association to participate in a child sex trafficking awareness public service campaign, “Demand an End.” Attorneys General in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, and South Carolina are also participating in the campaign with Street Grace.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined with the Wisconsin U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to host a two-day conference on human trafficking. More than 500 attendees, including law enforcement, prosecutors, social services, community members, and non-governmental organizations came together to learn about the victim- centered approach to investigation and prosecution of human traffickers.
The United Nations has partnered with the World Identity network to develop a pilot program aimed at using block chain identity to help stop child trafficking.
Los Angeles is drafting an ordinance to make inspections of massage parlors by health officials mandatory to ensure that neither sex nor labor trafficking is occurring.
The City of Houston’s mayor signed an executive order which calls on city contractors to ensure that they have protections in place to prevent forced labor in their supply chains.
Fresno is following the lead of Sacramento and Los Angeles by establishing a new court dedicated to juvenile human trafficking cases. This will allow a judge who has specialized training to work with NGOs and partner agencies to ensure child victims receive counseling and other help they need to go forward with their lives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that calls for health care workers to undergo training to recognize signs of possible child exploitation and recommends that health professional collaborate with nonmedical professionals in the community to assist victims.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.