Human Trafficking Newsletter July 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

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reaffirmed its earlier decision that an operator of a modeling website could not use the federal Communication Decency Act as a defense against a claim that it failed to warn users of the risks associated with use of its site. Doe v. Internet Brands, Inc.,No. 12-56638 superseding opinion filed 5/31/16).

A group of Cambodian villagers has filed suit in federal court in California accusing four U.S. and Thai companies of labor trafficking that allegedly occurred in a Thai seafood factory located in Songhkla province. Walmart is one of the companies selling seafood processed in that factory. Ratha et al. v. Phatthana Seafood Co. Ltd. et al. (C.D. Cal. filed June 15, 2016).

Legislative Action

Federal

The House has passed HR 3694, STOP Organ Trafficking Act. The bill, which is now being considered by the Senate, adds compelling or enticing a person to consent to the removal of an organ (contrary to World Health Organization standards) to the definition of “coercion” under the TVPA.

The bipartisan group of representatives has introduced H.R. 5405, the Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act. It is a companion bill to the S. 1466. If passed, the bill will provide health care professionals information on how to identify and appropriately treat human trafficking victims. Some studies have shown that up to 88% of human trafficking victims have had encounters with the health care community during their victimization.

State

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has signed into law SB 90. The new law raises the age threshold for victims of sex trafficking from 18 to 21.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed into law H.B. 1562. The new law makes it a crime for anyone to advertise a non-consenting person for sex. It also strengthens the confidentiality of addresses under the state’s Safe at Home Program.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed into law HB 1628 that makes purchasing or agreeing to purchase an individual under 18 for sex or watching a sexually explicit performance involving a child under 18 a Class B felony.

The New York legislature has passed a bill that would require signage in public places that provides the toll-free number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.

In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law a bill that would make anyone convicted of sex trafficking subject to state sex offender registration and community notification statutes.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecutions

Alabama

June 20, 2016: In Shelby County, a report to police from local business owners concerned about prostitution activity has led to the arrest of Alexander Jackson, 25, of Arkansas. He has been charged with Human Trafficking in the 2nd degree. The women who allegedly had been forced into prostitution have been identified and referred to centers to start recovery.

Alaska

June 17, 2016: In Anchorage, 32-year old Mark Daniel Alexander was sentenced to the maximum sentence after he pled guilty to a consolidated count of sex trafficking in the second degree. He was sentenced to three years in jail with 18 months suspended. His victims included both minors and adults.

Arizona

June 13, 2016: A traffic stop on I-10 near Benson led to the arrest of three individuals who are suspected of trafficking a 16-year-old runaway from California. Derrek Terry, Dana Glenn, and Dara Morris are being held in the Cochise County Jail while both local and federal prosecutors are pursuing indictments against them.

California

June 20, 2016: Pleasant Hill police have arrested a man and charged him with operating a human trafficking ring. Responding to a tip from a neighbor, police went to a home that they discovered was being advertised as an upscale private club but acted as a brothel. The primary resident, Dominic Salazar, 54, recruited women through the guise of running a modeling business.

June 20, 2016: An operation dubbed Operation Hotel Tango in San Marcos has led to the arrest of three people involved in a sex trafficking ring. One of those arrested, Natash McElrath, 37, was described as a “hotel insider” who used her position to make rooms available for sex encounters with the victims. Tyrone Evans, 40, was described as the ring leader, assisted by Lila Lefors, 36. The investigation looked at financial records and communications over social media platforms, email, and messaging applications and was conducted in conjunction with the California Department of Justice and 18 local and federal law enforcement agencies.

June 12, 2016: Cedric Hoseal, 21, and Briana Miller, 22, have been charged in Alameda County Superior Court with kidnapping, human trafficking, and firearm offenses. Four teenagers were recovered from an apartment in north Oakland. According to police, they were being held against their will and forced into prostitution. One of the girls managed to contact a relative who called police.

June 3, 2016: In Santa Ana, John Wayne Calhoun, 30, has been charged with various felony human trafficking charges. He is accused of trafficking a 13-year old.

June 3, 2016: The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office reported that Anthony Lott, 24, pled guilty to two felony counts of human trafficking of minors, two felony counts of pandering by procuring a minor over 16, and related charges.

June 2, 2016: A San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge sentenced James Anthony Otis, Jr., 36, to 40 years in prison after he was found guilty of human trafficking and related charges.

Florida

June 20, 2016: Ronald McBride III, 22, of Sarasota was found guilty of six felonies, one of which was human trafficking. He is the first person convicted of the crime in the county. His victim testified that McBride “owned” her, that she gave all of her prostitution earnings to him, and that he pistol whipped her when she didn’t come back to him one evening. She managed to escape and run to a highly-travelled area where someone called 911 on her behalf. McBride will be sentenced this fall. Sarasota County has started the first prostitution diversion program in the state, providing victims with support so that they are more likely to testify against their abusers.

Georgia

June 18, 2016: In Gwinnett County’s first human trafficking trial, Quantavious Lee Jackson has been found guilty of keeping two teen girls as prostitutes. According to a news release, Jackson physically and sexually abused the girls, including withholding food from them and burning one with cigarettes.

Kansas

June 17, 2016: Michael Terry Bressler, 50, entered an Alford plea for aggravated human sex trafficking and criminal threat charges in Elks County District Court. He admitted that, with a co-defendant, he planned to transport a teenager from Iowa to Hays to engage in sex. His co-defendant, Lester Crayton, pled guilty late last year and was sentenced to 187 months on three separate charges.

Louisiana

June 22, 2016: East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested three individuals on human trafficking charges. A 15-year old girl was rescued and referred for services.

Maryland

June 23, 2016: A prostitution sting operation in Lanham has led to the arrest of an elementary school teacher on human trafficking and prostitution charges.

Massachusetts

June 17, 2016: Steven Dizz, 34, was sentenced to 5-8 years in prison after an Essex County Superior Court jury found him guilty of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude and Deriving Support from Prostitution. Diaz was arrested after a traffic stop during which a woman in the backseat of the car asked a state trooper for help. The case was prosecuted by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office with assistance from the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Michigan

June 22, 2015: In the first such charge in Muskegon County, Tracey Lockett, 43, is accused of forcing a 25-year-old woman to prostitute herself by beating her and threatening the lives of her family members. If he is found guilty, Lockett will be a fourth-time habitual offender which would make him eligible for a life sentence. The case first came to investigator’s attention as a domestic violence case.

Minnesota

June 15, 2016: Darryl Taylor, 44, was recently charged in Ramsay County with two counts of second-degree sex trafficking, first-degree promotion of prostitution, and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. The victims recovered are 17, 23, and 33. The older victims allege that Taylor was physically threatening and supplied them with drugs and alcohol.

Montana

June 13, 2016: In Great Falls, a Seattle, Washington, man, Joseph Llewllyn Johnson, has changed his plea to guilty in a case where he was charged with coercing an 18-year old into prostitution. The state is recommending a 20-year prison term with seven years suspended. Sentencing is scheduled for early August.

Nevada

June 20, 2016: A teen-ager has been charged with running a prostitution ring in Las Vegas with two accomplices. The alleged victims are 15, 16, and 17. Juvenile Court Judge Frank Sullivan held that he be charged as an adult, noting that the juvenile system has not been able to assist him in the past. The teen is facing ten human trafficking charges.

New York

June 21, 2016: A Suffolk County judge found Andy Gayot, 38, guilty of sex trafficking and prostitution charges after a one-month bench trial. Gayot lured two victims into his home, offering protection, love, and drugs and then forced them into prostitution. One of his victims was 15.

June 15, 2016: Niagara Regional Police arrested three men on suspicion of being involved in the trafficking of a person over 18.

June 7, 2016: In Newburgh, Dawn Auche, 24, was arrested on sex trafficking charges regarding a 15-year old girl.

North Carolina

June 16, 2016: In Fayetteville,Donnell Jerome Scott, 25, was arrested on an outstanding warrant accusing him of sex trafficking a minor. His attempt to escape capture by jumping off a balcony was unsuccessful.

June 3, 2016: An undercover operation run by Jacksonville Police has led to the arrest of Meyonna Quantia Miller, 20, and Cedrick Mattocks, 26, on human trafficking charges. The alleged victim is 15.

Ohio

June 9, 2016: In the first Hamilton County prosecution for human trafficking, April Corccoran, 32, pled guilty to multiple counts involving trafficking her 11-year old daughter in exchange for heroin. The case is being prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Pennsylvania

June 1, 2016: A Lehigh County judge has sentenced Cedric Boswell to the maximum penalty of 13 to 26 years in state prison after a jury found him guilty of human trafficking and related charges in April. This is the second human trafficking conviction in Pennsylvania at the state level.

Rhode Island

June 22, 2016: In Providence, Curtis Maxie, 60, was sentenced to 85 years for trafficking and sexual assault and an additional 15 years to serve as a habitual offender. The victim was 16 years old. This is the longest prison term given for sex trafficking in Rhode Island history.

Tennessee

June 17, 2016: In Memphis, Nicholas Webster, 28, has been arrested on charges of rape and sex trafficking. He forced the victim into a bedroom and then sent in a man to rape her. The man stopped the assault because the victim couldn’t stop crying. When Webster learned she had not received any money, he hit her and slammed her against an air conditioner.

Texas

June 1, 2016: In Hidalgo County, Juan Manual Valdez was charged with trafficking of a child and organizing criminal activity. Two other people were arrested in May in connection with the same 15-year old victim and another is being sought.

Virginia

June 7, 2016: Abemarle County officials have announced that a grand jury has indicted Quincy Edwards, 33, on a number of charges that include ten counts of commercial sex trafficking. This is the first case in the county under the commonwealth’s sex trafficking statute. Edwards allegedly placed on-line ads advertising his victims and intimidated them by threatening them with a gun.

Washington

June 9, 2016: In Bellingham, an undocumented Cuban immigrant, Jose Guillarte Anaya, 53, pled guilty to reduced charges. He had been charged with sex trafficking involving a minor. Anaya is a level II sex offender stemming from charges in Florida in 1996.

Wisconsin

June 11, 2016: State prosecutors in Milwaukee have filed felony intimidation charges against John Mannery Jr. who is under federal court indictment for human trafficking. In a recorded telephone call from jail, he instructed an individual to get the teen victim to recant to prosecutors.

News of General Interest

A federal indictment in Kansas charges two owners of a Kansas City-area roofing company of labor trafficking. The allegations are that the company forced undocumented aliens working for them to pay kickbacks and obey other demands or face firing and being reported to immigration authorities.

The Los Angeles Regional Task Force on Human Trafficking has announced a partnership with the Pet Prescriptions Team. The Team is a Southern Californiz-based volunteer group that helps owners to train their pets to serve as therapy animals. The Team has volunteered to provide therapy dogs when human trafficking victims have been recovered to assist in providing emotional support.

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal urges banks to step up in the fight against human trafficking by monitoring red flags among their depositors. FinCEN issued a 2014 guide to banks regarding red flags that might indicate human trafficking or human smuggling.

Nevada’s third annual Benefit Dinner for Victims of Human Trafficking will be hosted by Nevada Attorney General Paul Laxalt in association with Soroptimist International and the Nevada Trucking Association.

Ami Carpenter, professor of conflict resolution at the University of San Diego, reported that a study of sex trafficking in the San Diego area reveals that it is an $800 million annual industry.


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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