Human Trafficking Newsletter July 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

State

A lawsuit has been filed against the Albuquerque Police Department and two of its officers by a human trafficking victim. The lawsuit alleges that, after she called 911 for help, the officers responding failed to investigate which created a situation where her captor raped her, beat her, and shaved her head in retaliation. Tito Fajardo, her captor, was the father of her child whom she hid from him. She alleges that he chained her, beat her, raped her, and demanded she tell him where the child was. The victim was finally able to get away from Fajardo by claiming that the child was near where she knew the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office was located. When they got to the area, the victim ran to the office and begged deputies to help. FarjardoFajardo was arrested the next day.

Legislation

Federal

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced S. 1311, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act of 2017. This bill, among other things, will reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. A companion bill has been introduced in the House.

State

In Maine, LD 1277 has become law. It requires those who are requesting a commercial driver’s license and those who are renewing one to take human trafficking prevention training. LD 512, which prohibits children 18 from being charged with prostitution, has been passed by the House and awaits Senate concurrence.

HB 4219 was unanimously passed by both the Michigan house and Senate and has now been signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. It expands the safe harbor eligibility provisions in state law for human trafficking victims.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed into law HB 94. It prohibits the defense of lack of knowledge of a person’s age and consent in a case involving minor sex trafficking.

North Carolina’s SB 548, the Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws/Studies addresses human trafficking in a number of ways. It would increase regulations for massage therapy and bodywork partners, require adult entertainment centers to display human trafficking awareness signs, and increase punishments for convicted traffickers. It was sent to the Governor for signature the end of June.

The Rhode Island Senate passed S. 0073A, the Uniform Act on Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking. A companion bill has been entered in the House. If passed, Rhode Island would be the eighth state to pass the uniform act.

The Texas legislature has passed and sent to the governor HB 2552 which adds owning, operating, maintain, or advertising an unlicensed or noncompliant massage business as a false, misleading, deceptive act or practice under the Texas Consumer Protection law. It also adds a misdemeanor offense for anyone knowingly providing a person or premise for prostitution purposes. Also, under the bill, proof of an arrest for prostitution at a business advertised as a massage establishment would be prima facie evidence that a defendant knowingly tolerated the activity in a common nuisance lawsuit.

In Virginia, HB 2282 was signed into law and took effect on July 1. It requires the Virginia Board of Education to develop guidelines for training school counselors, school nurses, and other relevant school staff on the prevention of trafficking of children.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed two bills into law, both of which were proposed by the attorney general’s office. HB 1832 reauthorizes the CSEC Statewide Coordinating Committee through 2023. SB 5030 changes the definition of Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor and Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor from “pays or agrees to pay a fee” to “pays or agrees to provide anything of value“ and extends the statute of limitations for various human trafficking offenses to 10 years or up until the victim’s 30th birthday.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

June 22, 2017: In Shelby County,Kelandus Tarvares Consenta, 42, was sentenced to 40 years and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine on his conviction on charges of second-degree human trafficking. He was also sentenced to a consecutive 50 years on his conviction for heroin trafficking.

California

June 16, 2017: Alexis Franklin, 22, was arraigned in Butte County Superior Court on felony counts of human trafficking and procuring a minor for prostitution. It is alleged that the teenage victim was a family friend whom Franklin took on a “girl’s weekend.” They visited various Chico stores where the child tried on lingerie. Franklin rented a hotel room and took the minor to dinner. The girl reported getting sleepy on the way to the hotel and recalled being pressured to change into lingerie while she tried to stay awake. Eventually, she was taken back to Franklin’s home where she called her mother. Her mother then called police. Online classified sites yielded photographs of the victim wearing lingerie.

June 16, 2017: Members of the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force began to observe a teen-ager who had been advertised on Backpage.com and was evidently involved in commercial sex. She agreed to meet investigators and was driven to the meeting by Myles Collins, 23. The 17-year old was a recent runaway from San Bernardino County; she was returned to her parents. Collins was booked on human trafficking and related charges.

June 13, 2017: Jerry Nickens Stringer, Jr., pled guilty to two counts of human trafficking, two counts of pandering, two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of using a minor to perform commercial sex acts, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. He offered to give a ride to two teenagers who were friends of a friend but then coerced the girls to prostitute themselves. He also took them to his mother’s apartment in Seaside and took provocative photos of them to paste on Backpage.com. A young man answering the ad helped the girls escape.

June 12, 2017: In one of the first labor trafficking cases in California, Efren Alvarez, 51, has been charged by the Fresno District Attorney’s office with six counts of labor trafficking and extortion involving three workers from Mexico. The case was brought to the attention of prosecutors after the workers sought help from California Rural Legal Assistance. Alvarez is accused of threats and intimidation against the three whom he recruited from Tijuana.

June 2, 2017: Demetrius Manning has been sentenced to 185 years to life in prison for human trafficking, rape, false imprisonment, criminal threats, assault, and kidnapping for rape according to the <href="#http://ktla.com/2017/06/02/sana-bernardino-man-gets-185-year-for-raping-trafficking-woman-he-lured-with-music-career-promises/">San Bernardino County District Attorney. Manning lured a 23-year-old woman to his residence on the pretext of helping her with her music career and then forced her into prostitution.

Florida

June 21, 2017: A man accused of trying to lure girls into prostitution has been arrested in Martin County. Authorities say that Christopher Alexander Koeper, 30, combed bars and used social media to find prospects. One of those he tried to lure was a police officer posing as a 16-year old girl.

June 1, 2017: Destiny Denise Santalli, 19, has been arrested and charged with human trafficking, sexually taking advantage of a minor, and living off the earnings of a prostitute. The magistrate in Broward County ordered that she have no contact with the minor involved in the case.

Georgia

June 19, 2017: As a result of an undercover operation, the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office arrested Darius Kee, 20, on charges of enticing a child for indecent purposes. The operation targeted people who traffic children in the sex industry, including those who are willing to pay for sex with a child.

Illinois

June 20, 2017: The Chicago State Attorney’s office is prosecuting Antonio Rosales for the murder of 16-year old who was involved in commercial sex. The federal government is now prosecuting her alleged pimp, Joseph Hazley, 33, forsex trafficking of a minor. The young girl was found slain in a Markham garage on December 24, 2016. The two prosecutions have resulted from the coordinated investigations of both local and federal law enforcement and serve as an example of the continued success of the Cook County human trafficking task force.

Maryland

June 6, 2017: Howard County police arrested Andre Lamar Russell, 28, and Heather Lynn Harding, 23, on human trafficking of a minor charges. Detectives received a tip from a man staying at a motel in the Jessup area that he was approached by another man who offered to provide a teenager for sexual services. Officers watched and observed Russell, who was identified as the man about whom the tipster called, with an adult woman at a motel where they found a 16-year old girl.

Massachusetts

June 20, 2017: After four hours of deliberation, a Salem jury convicted Lori Ann Barron, 54, of human trafficking and prostitution charges. Barron owned a Massachusetts massage parlor where she exploited her employees, requiring them to perform sex acts on clients.

June 1, 2017: A joint investigation by local police, state prosecutors, and federal agents has yielded three arrests on human trafficking charges in East Boston. Cesar Aldana-Carranza, 48; his wife, Elda Munoz, 42; and his sister Nabia Enamorado, 50, have been charged with sex trafficking.

Michigan

June 20, 2017: Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Daniel O’Brien sentenced Andrew Golden, 35, to 20 months to 20 years in prison after he pled guilty to one count of minor sex trafficking. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the sentencing.

Minnesota

June 23, 2017: Ricky Arlen Turner, Jr., is accused of running a nationwide sex trafficking operation out of the Twin Cities area. He now faces additional charges in Hennepin County and in Washington County for promoting prostitution, prostituting an individual, engaging in sex with a trafficked individual, and trafficking a minor along with felony racketeering charges. One detective traced more than 1,500 escort advertisements on Backpage.com to a co-defendant, Brittany Marie Harenza, who faces felony aiding and abetting charges in the Washington County case.

June 19, 2017: Deuvontay Charles, 22, was sentenced to 36 years in prison after his conviction in Minneapolis on three counts of sex trafficking of a minor, two counts of sex trafficking by use of force, fraud, and coercion, and twelve counts of production of child pornography. Charles recruited three minor girls for prostitution and coerced two 14-year old girls into making sexually explicit images. At the time of the offenses, he was a registered sex offender.

June 12, 2017: A sting operation focused on targeting those who want to solicit minors for sex in Redwood Falls led to three arrests, including that of Michael Robert Zeug, 45, the police chief of Walnut Grove.

Nebraska

June 20, 2017: In Sarpy County District Court, Jesse Blum, 23, was sentenced to four years in prison after he pled guilty to being involved in sex trafficking a 15-year old girl. He was sentenced in April in another county on his guilty plea to felony attempted theft by receiving stolen property.

Nevada

June 9, 2017: Jason Quate, 34, was arrested by Las Vegas police on charges relating to sex trafficking of his wife in Las Vegas after they moved there from Illinois. The wife eventually escaped to a Women’s Shelter in Las Vegas where she told workers about the sex trafficking and reported that her husband had earlier killed their six-year old daughter in Illinois and kept her body in a container in a garage of the house. Illinois authorities, on being notified, located the body of the child. Quate’s other two children, showing signs of abuse and neglect, were found in the couples’ Las Vegas apartment. Quate has also been charged with child pornography, child abuse, and accepting the earnings of a prostitute. Charges are pending in Illinois.

June 2, 2017: After a 17-year old girl called an acquaintance reporting that she had been forced into prostitution and wasn’t sure where she was, Las Vegas police located her at a motel east of the Las Vegas strip. She allegedly told investigators that she had met Micheala Gospel in California after she had run away from her living situation and had been forced into prostitution. After working in the sex trade in California, Gospel took her to Las Vegas where she met customers at various casinos. Gospel has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, kidnapping, child abuse or neglect, and accepting/receiving earnings of a prostitute.

New Jersey

June 23, 2017: An investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office has led to the sentencing of Barbara B. Cantz, 23. She pled guilty in March to facilitating human trafficking of a teen. She met the teen, a runaway, in early 2016 and urged her to prostitute herself to make money. Cantz was sentenced to five years in prison.

New Mexico

June 14, 2017: Police responding to a domestic disturbance call in Hobbs found a 22-year old female who told police she was strangled and beaten by Markell Sweargin, 19, when she refused to have sex with an unknown male. Sweargin was arrested and has been charged with aggravated battery against a household member, false imprisonment, human trafficking, promoting prostitution, and possession of marijuana.

New York

June 19, 2017: Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced that Anthony Young, aka, Royalty, 30, and his girlfriend Shaunda Swanson, 23, have been charged on various counts involving prostituting two 14-year-old girls in New York and New Jersey.

June 13, 2017: The Queens District Attorney’s office has charged a Bangladeshi deputy counsel general, Mohammed Shaheldul Islam, 45, on a 33-count indictment, including labor trafficking, assault, and unlawful imprisonment. He is alleged to have brought a domestic worker, Mohammed Amin, into the country, seized his passport, and warned him that, if he tried to leave, he would kill Amin’s mother and young son or shame his college-age daughter. According to prosecutors, Amin’s only source of income was from tips given to him by guests at parties hosted by Islam. Islam has limited diplomatic immunity.

Tennessee

June 13, 2017: Two people have been charged with human trafficking after a 19-year old placed a call to 911 stating that she was being held against her will at a hotel in Lakeland and forced to prostitute herself. Darius Hunt, 22, has been charged with aggravated kidnapping, false imprisonment, and trafficking for commercial sex act. Anna Stuckey, 25, who was at the scene as well, was also arrested on outstanding warrants for theft of property and violation of probation in a separate case.

Texas

June 1, 2017: In an undercover operation targeting demand, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office arrested eight men. During this operation, they had more responses in one hour than they had during their first sting when they received 98 responses during a 12- hour period.

Utah

June 22, 2017: An investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office has led to the arrest of Santos M. Mojica by ICE agents. The alleged victim told authorities that she began a relationship with Mojica in Guatemala. They later moved to Mexico and he promised he would reunite her with her children. In Mexico, he procured false documents and required her to work at a sewing factory, keeping her locked in her room when she wasn’t working. He then brought her to Utah, through Arizona, gave her new fraudulent documents so she could work and then required her to prostitute herself, turning over all money to him. Mojica is charged with forgery, human trafficking, and human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation.

Wisconsin

June 12, 2017: Teng Thao was sentenced to six years in prison on his no contest plea to felony charges of trafficking a child and human trafficking. The investigation began with a car crash in 2013. Six girls and a man named Pao Chang were in the car. Chang was later convicted on sex trafficking charges and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Prosecutors accused Thao of being the hired muscle and chauffeur for Chang in Sheboygan. He also branded the girls with a tattoo. Five of the victims were underage and the one who was over 18 was mentally challenged.

Other Items of Interest

The State Department issued the 2017 TIP report.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt will co-host the fourth annual benefit dinner for victims of human trafficking with the Nevada Trucking Association and Soroptimist International. The dinner will be held in Reno on July 13.

On June 14, the Utah Attorney General’s Office hosted the first annual Utah Human Trafficking Conference, focused on training members of the law enforcement community, medical professionals, victim service providers, and educators. Held in partnership with the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, and the Refugee & Immigrant Center - Asian Association of Utah, the training focused on a variety of topics related to human trafficking, including victim services, understanding the legal aspect of prosecuting labor and sex trafficking, data, intelligence analysis, and victim outreach.


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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