Human Trafficking Newsletter January 2018
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
Immigrants held at a San Diego County detention center are suing the private prison company running the facility, alleging that labor trafficking is occurring there. The class-action lawsuit alleges that the Otay Mesa Detention Center pay the immigrants at most $1.50 per day for their work as kitchen help, janitors, and in other roles.
The estate of a woman who was a sex trafficking victim and who was killed in a Portland hotel in 2014 has filed a $3.6 million lawsuit against the owners of the Hilton hotel chain and Backpage.com. Filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the lawsuit claims that both businesses failed to establish and use practices to protect victims of sex trafficking.
S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, has passed and is awaiting the President’s signature. The bill directs the Department of Transportation to disqualify an individual for life from operating a commercial motor vehicle if the vehicle is used in committing a felony involving a severe form of human trafficking.
S. 1536, Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, was passed. It directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to designate an official to coordinate activities within DOT and with other federal agencies and to take into account the unique challenges of combating the crime depending on the transportation mode.
HR 1865, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), passed out of the House Judiciary Committee as an amendment of the Mann Act. The newer language to the bill criminalizes anyone who operates a facility “with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person” and states that, to sue someone, a plaintiff would have to show that the website had “responsibility for creation or development of all or part of the information or content provided.” ” and does not mention civil suits in state courts. Here is an article describing the new bill.
HR 2219 was voted out of committee. The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act of 2017 would assign the President’s Task Force with generating recommendations to target money laundering related to human trafficking and would add the Secretary of the Treasury to the task force.
HR 4601, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017, has been introduced. Among its provisions is a requirement that federal agencies promptly report human trafficking data to the FBI. Other provisions would require the Department of Homeland Security to annually report on human trafficking trends to various congressional committees.
At the end of November, H.R. 4485 was introduced. It would direct the Attorney General to review, revise, and develop law enforcement protocols to address missing and murdered (Native Americans?). The impetus for the bill’s drafting is found in its language: the high incidence of homicide and sexual abuse among American Indian and Alaska Native women.
A number of states are considering the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. The act would make it mandatory for online content providers to place a filter on pornographic material. To remove the filter, consumers would have to prove that they are over 18 and pay $20. Supporters believe that, by affecting the demand for porn, there would also be a dip in the sex trafficking industry.
In Florida, SB 1044 is being considered. Titled the Civil Action for Victims of Human Trafficking and Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, it permits the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages and costs against a facilitator for “willful blindness.”
A bill, HB 1526, has been prefiled in the Missouri legislature. It would prohibit a child under 18 from being prosecuted for prostitution and increase to an E felony the patronizing of a person for sex who is between 15 and 18 and an increase to a D felony if the person patronized is 14 or younger.
Dec. 19, 2017: An investigation into a report received by Birmingham police has led to sex trafficking charges being filed against a current inmate in the Jefferson County Jail, Darrel Spell, and an accomplice, Francesca St. Rose. Spell was incarcerated for drug trafficking. Investigators learned that the 19-year victim was moved from California to Alabama to Georgia and then back to Alabama. St. Rose allegedly collected the money and deposited it into an inmate account for Spell who directed where to take the victim, the websites on which to advertise her, and what hotels to use.
Dec. 13, 2017: Mesa police conducted an undercover sting designed to address the demand side of sex trafficking. Six individuals, ranging from 24 to 57 years old, were arrested.
Dec. 29, 2017: Elan Seagraves, 34, a boys’ soccer coach at Kennedy High School in Sacramento, was arrested very early on Christmas morning on suspicion of human trafficking and pimping of a minor. A 17-year old girl called 911 at 3 a.m. saying that she was a victim of trafficking and was hiding in the backyard of a home in South Sacramento and that her pimp was outside waiting for her. When authorities arrested Seagraves, he had another 17-year old girl in the car with him.
Dec. 20, 2017: A 17-year old was rescued in El Dorado County when police there conducted an undercover sting to address demand and to investigate possible human trafficking. Fourteen were arrested on prostitution and other charges.
Dec. 6, 2017: Three people were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking of a minor: Gabirella Alvarado, 18, Ramon Chavez, 20, and Alicia Thao, 21. The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force members received information about the potential location of a 15-year old that had been reported a runaway from Fresno. After pictures of her were found on online classified ads, undercover police set up an appointment. They were told to go to a motel in Riverside where the child was found and placed into protective custody.
Dec. 18, 2017: Orlando police received a tip that an underage girl was being held against her will at a local motel. Undercover police answered an internet ad and went to a room where a girl with a bruise on her eye answered the door. Other police saw a man leaving a different room in the same motel. This man, Tyquarius Lebby, 24, was questioned and subsequently arrested on charges of human trafficking and related charges.
Dec. 13, 2017: An investigator in Okaloosa County followed up on information he received from a juvenile probation officer about the possibility that teens were being trafficked in the county through advertisements on Backpage.com. De’Jion Kimbrough, 22, and Anthony Miles, 25, have been arrested and charged with a variety of crimes involving trafficking of both children and adults. Kimbrough has similar charges pending against him in Georgia.
Dec. 13, 2017: In Orlando, a teen confided in a teacher at her school that she was being forced by her sister to spend the night with Juan Parada in exchange for rent money. The teen had been trafficked in her native country and, after she testified against her trafficker, she received death threats so her sister paid to have her smuggled into the United States. Parada has been arrested and is facing charges of human trafficking and sex with a minor. The teen is in protective custody. No other arrests have yet been made in this case.
Dec. 29, 2017: In DeKalb County, two people were arrested on charges related to trafficking a minor. When officers conducted a search of one of the suspects’ home, they also found a large marijuana grow.
Dec. 15, 2017: Wichita police officers arrested 11 men during an undercover sting targeting sex buyers.
Dec. 22, 2017: A Warren County grand jury indicted David Crouch, 51, on charges of kidnapping, first-degree criminal attempt to commit rape, human trafficking, second-degree assault, and associated charges.
Dec. 22, 2017: Two men were arrested at a Baton Rouge motel where they were allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old girl. Arkansas authorities alerted Louisiana law enforcement that the pair, Aaron Hayes and Malcolm Ford, were in the area. Hayes is facing human trafficking, drug, and firearm charges. The pair are also facing several felony charges in Arkansas. Baton Rouge police said they observed bruises on the minor’s face and arms.
Dec. 19, 2017: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that three individuals who conducted a human trafficking ring in Oakland County and Madison Heights have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Another man was sentenced to ten years. These individuals used opioid addiction to force their victims to remain in servitude. All four had pled guilty to human trafficking charges and various drug charges in November.
Dec. 15, 2017: Mitchell James Hodges, 40, has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking a 15-year old in Muskegon. Two sisters also face prostitution-related charges in the case. Hailee Moffett, 18, is charged with accepting the earnings of a prostitute and Hannah Skye Moffett, 21, has been charged with engaging the services of a minor.
Dec. 12, 2017: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his Human Trafficking Unit has charged Joseph McGough, 23, and Robert Stanfield, 23, on multiple counts of minor sex trafficking. The charges were filed based on an investigation by the Warren Police Department conducted with the help of the FBI-led Macomb County Child Exploitation Task Force.
Dec. 22, 2017: Ricky Turner pled guilty to felony aiding and abetting racketeering and felony promotion of prostitution. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for what prosecutors described as a “large-scale” operation spanning multiple states. As part of the plea agreement, the Washington County court dismissed a charge of trafficking. Turner faces additional felony charges of sex trafficking in Hennepin County.
Dec. 13, 2017: A man who rented a hotel room in Lincoln, allegedly unaware that it would be later used for a sex trafficking operation, pled no contest to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was placed on probation and given community service. Others involved in the trafficking of the 15-year old runaway, Amber Brecks, Thissa Desantiago, and Jacqueline Stebbins, were earlier sentenced to four to eight years in prison, five years in prison, and ten to fifteen years in prison, respectively.
Dec. 21, 2017: An Atlantic County grand jury indicted Tahir Gregory, 38, on two counts of human trafficking and two counts of promoting prostitution of two women. Gregory allegedly forced the women into prostitution through threats of bodily harm and by using drugs and confiscated one victim’s identifying documents.
Dec. 14, 2017: Theodore Edwards, 50, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for trafficking involving four women by an Orange County Court judge. He provided the women with drugs and then required them to work for him as payment.
Dec. 1, 2017: After a Manhattan criminal court judge sentenced Michael Lamb, 36, to between six and eighteen years in prison, the convicted sex trafficker complained that it was too long and that he was “not an animal.” Lamb was convicted in June of targeting homeless and runaway teens from the Covenant House and then coercing them into prostitution in New York and New Jersey.
Dec. 15, 2017: Last August, Jotavious Bell was arrested on human trafficking charges, the first known case in Gastonia. A second man, Randall Shropshire Jr. has now been arrested in the case.
Dec. 22, 2017: Seven people have been indicted by a Franklin County grand jury for luring victims into forced prostitution. According to the prosecutor, Cottrell Marshall, Jr., was the director and organizer of the enterprise that operated out of various hotels in the Columbus area between 2012 and 2015.
Dec. 27, 2017: Oklahoma City authorities have arrested Zhenyia Berry, 20. She is facing charges of assisting in the kidnapping and trafficking of a teenager from Texas.
Dec. 20, 2017: A third rape charge against Seth Mull has led to a charge of human trafficking. In Bethlehem, a woman alleged that Mull forced her to do drugs, punched her, and raped her. The woman also alleged she was raped by two unknown men while blindfolded and tied to a bed.
Dec. 7, 2017: During a police sting in Lexington in November, two 16-year old girls were found at a local motel. Donnell Woodard, 29, and India Cuyler, 23, have been arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor.
Dec. 28, 2017: A Bowie County grand jury indicted Kenneth Dewayne Nelson, 63, on five counts of continuous trafficking of persons. He is accused of give five teen girls Xanax, marijuana, and methamphetamine in exchange for sex.
Dec. 28, 2017: San Antonio police arrested Rakim Sharkey, 24, on sex trafficking charges. He is accused of trafficking two young girls.
Dec. 14, 2017: A man who had been placed on the Texas 10 Most Wanted List was captured in Kentucky. Herman Henry Fox had been arrested in March in connection with allegations that he had trafficked a woman throughout Texas and Colorado. He bonded out and failed to appear for court hearings.
Dec. 5, 2017: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the office’s Human Trafficking Unit arrested Domingo Gonzalez, 48, on charges of compelling prostitution in Bexar County. He is accused of paying to have sex with a 15-year old.
Dec. 1, 2017: Irving police have arrested Richard Lee Dixon, 35, after a 15-year old runaway told police that she had been trafficked by him. Investigators are looking into reports that there may be other victims involved.
Dec. 20, 2017: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced the sentencing of Quinlen Atkinson on human trafficking charges after he pled guilty. He recruited two high school students to work as part of his commercial sex operation, transporting them both within and outside the state. Atkinson will serve between one and fifteen years in prison, as determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Nov. 14, 2017: The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed charges against Demari Dehan Dontrae Anderson and his co-defendant Veronica Jaramillo. Anderson is charged with several felonies including human trafficking, pattern of unlawful activity, money laundering, and aggravated exploitation of prostitution, based on allegations that he used force, fraud, and coercion to compel women to work in his commercial sex operation at a massage parlor in Ogden City. Jaramillo is alleged to have helped run the business.
Other Items of Interest
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced that his statewide Human Trafficking Task Force will offer assistance to nonprofits who do not have the resources to apply for funding to assist victims.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor to work together on a task force targeting labor trafficking. In other news from the New Mexico Attorney General’s office, a new ad campaign targeting state teenagers and parents with children under eighteen has been launched in an effort to combat sexual predators.
The city of Newton, Iowa, has followed the lead of Johnston and Windsor Heights in passing an ordinance regulating massage parlors. An earlier state law has been repealed, allowing cities to regulate massage parlors by local ordinance. The ordinance requires new and existing massage therapy businesses to apply for licensing. The police department and the city staff will review the application before a license is issued.
A federal judge in Philadelphia has sentenced Kevino Graham, 36, to jail for 100 years after he was convicted on two counts of sex trafficking by force and a count of attempted sex trafficking by force. He was also ordered to pay more than $640,000 in restitution.
Two men in Nebraska, Vishnubhai Chaudhari, 50, and Leelabahen Chaudhari, 44, pled guilty in federal court in Omaha to one count of conspiracy and one count of alien harboring for financial gain. The labor trafficking scheme victimized an Indian national without immigration status at a Super 8 motel. The victim was never paid for working long hours, seven days a week. His movements were restricted, he was assaulted, and the defendants verbally abused him. A motel guest assisted the victim’s escape.
In Long Island, federal officials have arrested Ralph Colamussi and Roberto Villanueva after a federal indictment charged them with conspiring to engage in forced labor of immigrants, visa fraud, fraud in foreign labor contracting and fraudulent inducement of aliens to enter and remain in the United States in violation of law. According to the indictment, the men recruited employees from the Philippines by falsely promising them jobs with overtime pay to work in their catering hall.
Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers in Southern California, filed a complaint with the U.S. State Department that alleges the Terranea Resort replaced most of its entry-level cook workforce with interns from Asian countries on the pretext that the workers were being trained in advanced culinary arts. Instead, according to the complaint, the interns performed routine tasks but paid large placement fees and didn’t receive raises or benefits.
The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards has released its Task Force Report on Human Trafficking. Among the recommendations is that close relationships be developed with law enforcement and other stakeholders in addressing the prevalence of human trafficking in the massage industry.
The journal Medical Education Onlinereported that a curriculum, known as the Medical Student Instruction in Global Human Trafficking, or M-Sight, was being utilized by the University of Louisville in the third year of medical school. The curriculum has been adopted in other medical schools as well. M-Sight includes a patient simulation case to help students recognize patients who may be victims of human trafficking.
The Guardian Group, a non-profit association composed of former military special operations, law enforcement, and intelligence community professionals, offers a free e-book to help combat sex trafficking in the United States.
The Law Enforcement Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office received an award from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for partnering with its Major Crime Unit on an investigation to stop the sex trafficking of minors from Canada to the United States.
The State Department is requesting information to assist in the preparation of its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Information about new trends in human trafficking, examples of success and challenges in prosecution, victim identification and protection, and efforts to prevent trafficking, best practices, challenges, and lessons learned are examples of the type of information being sought. Submissions must be in writing to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State by January 31, 2018.
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.