Human Trafficking Newsletter June 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

Federal

A federal jury in Minnesota has awarded a woman nearly $1 million in a civil lawsuit against a Minnesota man who sexually assaulted her when she was 14 and living in Laos. Panyia Vang, now 24, moved to Minneapolis with her family after she became pregnant with the man’s child.

Legislation

Federal

The House passed several measures amending Title 18 of the U.S. Code: HR 1862 would expand the scope of some definitions pertaining to unlawful sexual conduct; HR 1842 would establish that conviction for state crimes of violence would be grounds for an enhanced penalty when sex offenders fail to register as required by federal law; HR 883 would provide a process to certify the issuance of nondisclosure requirements in connection with certain administrative subpoenas; and HR 695, the Child Protection Improvements Act, would establish a national criminal history background check system for individuals who, related to their employment, have access to children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. In addition, the House passed HR 1625 and HR 2473. HR 1625 would authorize the State Department to make cash awards for information on certain forms of human trafficking as it now is authorized to do on other forms of transnational organized crimes. HR 2473 directs the Attorney General to study various issues relating to human trafficking, including preparing a report on safe harbor laws, developing methodologies to assess the prevalence of the crime, and report on how often prosecutors seek mandatory restitution in trafficking cases. In addition, it provides funding for training and technical assistance.

The subcommittee hearing on HR 2200, the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Protection and Protection Reauthorization Act, and witnesses statements are available here.

A bill, HR 2268, that would authorize grants to local educational agencies to train school staff to recognize and respond to signs of labor and sex trafficking and to provide curricula to students on how to avoid becoming victims of trafficking, has been introduced.

On May 25, HR 2664 was introduced. It would require Department of Labor employees to receive instruction on how to recognize and respond to cases of labor trafficking.

SB 1236 has been introduced. It would require the U.S. Attorney General to designate human trafficking coordinators for federal judicial districts.

The Senate is considering HR 339 which deals with nonimmigrant workers in the Northern Mariana Islands. Two senators have raised concerns about NMI labor issues and the possible connection to labor trafficking.

State

Arkansas’ Act 922 has been signed into law. This requires all truck drivers to obtain education on human trafficking when they get or renew their commercial driving licenses.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB 1172 into law. It requires a minimum sentence for anyone convicted of human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude. He also signed into law HB 1072. The bill amends the definition of human trafficking for sexual servitude to include a person who knowingly advertises, offers to sell, or sells travel services that facilitate human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude.

HB 7309 received unanimous votes in both the Connecticut House and Senate and is now on the governor’s desk for signing. It creates a stand-alone charge of commercial sexual abuse of a minor, and makes the penalty for paying to sexually abuse a child a Class B felony involving victims 15 and older or a Class A felony involving victims under 15. It also expands the crime of trafficking to include anyone who takes part in or commissions the recruitment, harboring, or transportation of individuals to engage in illegal sexual contact for a fee.

The Delaware Senate is considering SB 75 which would align the definition of trafficking to the federal definition by adding the words “advertises, patronizes, solicits” to the activities which make a person liable for human trafficking.

The Kansas legislature passed HB 40 unanimously and has been signed by the governor into law. Attorney General Derek Schmidt proposed the legislation in February to enhance the state’s already robust human trafficking laws. The new legislation requires holders of commercial drivers’ licenses to have training on signs of human trafficking, makes it easier for minors to expunge any criminal convictions stemming from their victimization, makes it explicit that minors cannot consent to being trafficked, makes selling “sex tourism” packages criminal, increases the penalties for sex with minors, and modifies the fine structure for various sex crimes.

SB 42 has passed the Louisiana Senate and is now being considered by the House. If passed, it would create the Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Commission and Advisory Board in the governor’s office. The attorney general would be a member of the commission.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed into law SB 220 and SB 221. SB 220 requires that all police training agencies include in their curricula information on the state’s human trafficking laws and the services available for victims. SB 221 requires the owners of adult entertainment establishments to post the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline in the establishment’s bathrooms.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 4219. The legislation permits victims of sex trafficking to get certain criminal charges deferred or dismissed regardless of any prior prostitution-related convictions. HB 4211 has passed the House and has advanced to the Senate. This bill would allow expert testimony during human trafficking cases.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed into law LB 289. The new law increases the penalties for pandering or trafficking of an adult to a Class II felony and the penalty for sex trafficking or soliciting a minor to a Class IC felony which would require a maximum penalty of 20 or 50 years in prison depending on the age of the minor and whether force was used.

The Nevada Senate has passed SB 488 which expands the definition of sex trafficking to include facilitators, transporters, advertises who sell travel services for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with a victim of sex trafficking, and those who travel to or within the state for purposes of engaging in sexual conduct with a victim of sex trafficking or in relation to certain acts involving pornography and minors. It also increases the penalty for sex trafficking a child less than 14 years of age.

In New Hampshire, the House has passed HB 94 that would prohibit the defense of lack of knowledge of a person’s age and consent in a case involving minor sex trafficking.

A 4845 is under consideration in New Jersey. The bill would require human trafficking training for those who are applying for or renewing their commercial driving licenses. A 4848 has also been introduced. It would follow the lead of a Pennsylvania law that allows lawsuits to be brought against enablers, such as hotels and motels, which ignore signs of human trafficking because they are profiting from it.

North Carolina legislators are considering HB 910, which would allocate nearly $50 million to a pilot program to help victims of sex trafficking and to educate youths, teachers, and law enforcement officers about human trafficking red flags.

The Ohio Senate passed SB4, a bill that would allow certain criminal convictions to be expunged if the defendant was a victim of human trafficking and was coerced into committing the crime.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SB128 which requires education and training for those who are applying for a commercial driver’s license. Another bill, <href="#navpanes=0">SB 1165, is being considered by the Texas Senate. If it becomes law, it would allow a conviction or an order of expungement of arrest records and files for a victim of human trafficking whose non-violent crime was committed because of the victimization.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

May 5, 2017: Montgomery police have arrested two suspects, Dvonte Lockley and Laporchie Howard, charging them with human trafficking in the first degree and promoting prostitution in the second degree. The case involves two female victims, one 17 and the other 19.

Alaska

May 26, 2017: Deon Damarr Daniels, 31, faces five counts of first-degree sex trafficking and one count of third degree sex trafficking in Anchorage. Several of the charges indicated that Daniels used force against his victims.

California

May 11, 2017: The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force has assumed investigative responsibility of a case involving Lawrence Randall. He has been accused of forcing a 10-year-old female into prostitution in Hemet, San Bernardino, Pomona, and Palm Springs. The female was advertised online. Randall allegedly choked the victim, hit her head against a wall, threatened her with a firearm, and burned her with cigarettes. Randall is currently in jail on charges of human trafficking, pimping, pandering, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and violating his parole.

May 9, 2017: Kevin Akins, 28, and Aubrei Wilson, 23, were sentenced in Joshua Tree Superior Court after they agreed to a plea bargain in April on sex trafficking charges. Akins was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for pandering and received concurrent sentences for depriving another of personal liberty and threatening a crime. Wilson was sentenced to eight years in state prison for depriving another of personal liberty with a sentence to be served concurrently for pimping.

May 3, 2017: The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced that Tyrone Jones, 37, was sentenced to 10 years and 4 months in prison for trafficking, pimping, pandering, and assaulting a woman with a screwdriver.

May 3, 2017: The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced that Renice Stevenson Flores-Davis was sentenced to 24 years in state prison for kidnapping and inflicting burns on a woman whom he forced into prostitution. Flores-Davis pled guilty to human trafficking, kidnapping, mayhem, and assault with a deadly weapon.

May 3, 2017: A three-month investigation of the website Stockton.backpage.com by the Stockton police led them to locating eight young girls, ranging in age from 14 to 17, involved in prostitution. Two men, Jimmy Macias and Recardo Spivey, both 19, were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. Twenty-one men and women were arrested on suspicion of soliciting sexual services for money or loitering with the intent to solicit.

Colorado

May 25, 2017: Donald Pierre Whiteside, 25, pled guilty in March to human trafficking for sexual servitude. He traveled with two female victims in Colorado, Arizona, and along the West Coast, forcing them into prostitution. He has now been sentenced in Adams County District Court to 30 years in prison.

May 8, 2017: In Aurora, Sean Cumpler, 50, pled guilty to three felony charges of sex trafficking young men. He has now been sentenced to 50 years in state prison. He forced adolescent boys to have sex in exchange for gifts, food, and shelter at Crumpler’s home. He is a registered sex offender.

Florida

May 31, 2017: Patrick Trottie, 43, has been charged with coercing sexual activity for human trafficking in Jacksonville. He is alleged to have plied the victims with heroin, taken the money they received, and physically abused them.

May 24, 2017: Two men, who allegedly worked for Miguel Angel Alvarez Maradiaga, currently in jail on charges involving running a large prostitution operation, have been arrested and charged with human trafficking. Byron Estrada, 28, allegedly oversaw one of Marangia’s brothels and occasionally provided security. Joel Gomez-Chilel, 36, is accused of providing security and of collecting money from various men who sought sexual services in the brothels overseen by Maradiaga in Lake Worth. The victims are from Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.

May 18, 2017: Marcio Vinicio Orrego, 31, has been arrested on human trafficking and related charges. He allegedly housed a runaway minor and advertised her on Backpage. The child’s father contacted police, giving them her location in Palm Beach County.

May 17, 2017: In Palm Beach County, police have arrested Joel Bautista Trinidad, 34, on human trafficking, kidnapping, and lewd and lascivious molestation charges. He allegedly used the social media site Tango to solicit a young woman to become a prostitute and to recruit several of her female friends.

May 12, 2017: The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ali Ameer, 24, on charges of labor trafficking. He is alleged to have driven women and teen girls to sell drugs and also assisted in forcing them into prostitution. In April, police arrested Andre Benjamin, alleging that he used a 15-year old girl to sell drugs. A witness has also come forth, alleging that Benjamin sold multiple women for sex at his home.

May 11, 2017: The Lake County Sheriff’s Office arrested Vincent Thomas 27, on child pornography charges. He had made a video of himself having sex with a 15-year old girl. Now his girlfriend, Carolina Schuller, 26, has been arrested and charged with human trafficking and commercial sexual activity of a minor after additional charges of human trafficking were filed against Thomas. Schuller is alleged to have driven young victims to Thomas’ house for sexual encounters and also to have bought the drugs that he gave the under aged girls.

May 2, 2017: The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested Andre Benjamin, 36, and charged him with human trafficking of a juvenile for labor and lewd and lascivious battery. He allegedly forced a 15-year old girl to sell drugs for him

Iowa

May 5, 2017: Dubuque law enforcement arrested John Hart, 66, and Meirong Li, 53, and charged them with pimping and human trafficking. The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation into prostitution activity at several businesses in Dubuque.

Louisiana

May 2, 2017: Marketh D. Bailey 24, was arrested by Bossier Sheriff/Bossier Police Narcotics Task Force on human trafficking charges. Three victims, ages 18, 29, and 20, were located during a sting operation. One woman, who was 9 months pregnant, told officers that she tried to escape and was beaten. The two other women witnessed the beating.

Maine

May 18, 2017: The Auburn Police Department arrested Dean Pascal, 65, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and charged him with aggravated sex trafficking. Detectives discovered an ad on Backpage.com and interviewed the adult victim after contacting her at a local hotel.

Maryland

May 9, 2017: In Hagerstown, police have arrested Michael Joseph Keech, 39, and charged him with three counts of human trafficking, and one count each of prostitution, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance other than marijuana. He was arrested after an undercover operation led to a Hagerstown apartment. The alleged victim told police that she was addicted to drugs and was required to provide sexual services by Keech in return for his supplying her cocaine and heroin. She also said he would beat her if she resisted and made her have sex with him before she saw clients.

May 9, 2017: A Howard County Circuit Court judge sentenced Arthur Billy Coleman, 47, to 50 years in prison for the sex trafficking of two teenage girls. The children, 13 and 16, were foster children who had run away from the Baltimore Department of Social Services. The investigation began when an undercover female detective saw prostitution ads online posted by the 13-year old.

Massachusetts

May 4, 2017: A joint investigation by federal officials and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, with the assistance of state and local law enforcement, has led to the arrest of five individuals in connection with a major human trafficking and money laundering operation that extended through Greater Boston. The five defendants allegedly ran multiple brothels, two in Quincy and others in Boston, Cambridge, and north Reading. Ten victims were located who had been transported to Massachusetts from other states.

Minnesota

May 18, 2017: According to Washington County prosecutors, Ricky Arlen Turner Jr. 28, and Brittany Marie Harenza, 25, ran a large-scale sex trafficking operation that reached into nearly a dozen states. A response to a Backpage.com subpoena revealed advertisements for more than 35 women associated with Harenza’s computer IP address. Both individuals face felony racketeering and concealing criminal proceeds charges and Turner is charged with engage in trafficking of a minor and promoting prostitution.

Missouri

May 15, 2017: Robert McCaw, 32, was arrested after a foot chase and charged with sex trafficking of children, statutory rape, and giving methamphetamine to minors. Two girls, one 13 and the other 14, told investigators in Springfield that McCaw forced them to take drugs, and engage in sexual activity and would not let them leave. An emergency request to Facebook led to the IP address of one of the girls which revealed where she was staying. There was evidence that McCaw was planning to take the girls to Arizona.

May 12, 2017: In Carroll County, officers arrested Edward Benn, 43, and charged him with second-degree felony attempted sexual trafficking. Benn allegedly attempted to traffic a child under 18.

Nebraska

May 25, 2017: After a six-day trial, Omaha jurors deliberated only 90 minutes before convicting Anthony Swindle guilty of two counts of sex trafficking. His victims included a 15-year old girl with mental issues and a 21-year-old woman.

New Jersey

May 26, 2017: In Burlington County, Christopher K. White, 19, and Adria Regn, 27, have been charged with human trafficking of a minor and promoting prostitution of a minor and related offenses. The victim told investigators she was plied with drugs and forced to have sex with five or more men every day over a three to four day period. She met Regn at a local hotel believing she was being hired to babysit the woman’s two children.

May 10, 2017: New York residents Joneigh Tempro, 22, and Joshua Stewart, 28, were arrested in Somerville and charged with promoting prostitution involving a person under 18 and human trafficking involving a person under 18. Police received information that a Somerset resident who was 16 was engaging in prostitution under the direction of Tempro and Stewart in hotels around the county.

North Carolina

May 9, 2017: The Durham Regional Police Service’s Gun and Gang Unit and Human Trafficking Unit worked with the Peterborough Police Service to arrest two suspects on human trafficking charges. Oral Richards, 27, from Whitby and Terrell Ochrym, 38, of Pickering have been charged with recruiting sexual services of an individual under 18, advertising another’s sexual services, and associated charges.

Pennsylvania

May 8, 2017: Eric Rolle, 24, pled guilty to sex trafficking charges immediately before his trial in Monroe County was to begin. He was sentenced to six to twelve years in state prison. He was accused of operating a violent sex trafficking operation, using drug-addicted individuals as his victims. According to his victims, he threatened to kill anyone who left him. One of his victims committed suicide in the summer of 2015.

May 4, 2017: John “G” Guerra was sentenced in Philadelphia on charges including human trafficking, simple assault, sexual exploitation of children, and related charges. He was prosecuted by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and was sentenced to 37 to 74 years. According to a statement by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Guerra and his co-defendants exploited their victims, including one girl who was under 18, by luring homeless girls to work for the organization with either cash payments or illegal drugs. The victims were controlled by the defendants through intimidation, drugs, and physical violence.

May 3, 2017: In Lackawanna County Court, Carrie Ann Hunter, 39, was sentenced to four to eight years in state prison. She had previously pled guilty to trafficking minors. In April, Frank Palhinhas of Ossining, New York, who had pled guilty to sexual assault, indecent aggravated assault of a person less than 16 years old, and criminal use of a communication facility, was sentence to 5 ½ years to 16 years in state prison for his sexual encounter with the 14-year old involved in this episode.

May 2, 2017: Philadelphia police have charged four people for the alleged human trafficking of a 14-year old girl. A fifth suspect is being sought. The victim walked into Temple University Hospital and told staff she had been sexually assaulted multiple times by several men. The teen considered one of the men arrested, Shaikey Copper, 18, a friend, but he sexually assaulted her and then took her to the home of Reggie Jamal Fields, 23, and had another defendant, Fantasia Gale, post an online advertisement, offering the girl for sexual services. She was then driven to various locations to prostitute herself. She escaped by telling the defendants that she wanted to buy something for them and then going to a nearby bodega to seek help. There, someone gave her a bus token and she was able to make her way to the hospital. Shawn Jackson, 23, was also arrested for his alleged involvement in the case and police are searching for Angelo Romero, 24.

Apr. 29, 2017: Peter Moldovan IV was arrested by Greene County officers on human trafficking charges. Police alleged that Moldovan paid a mother $20 to take her daughter for the day. He then allegedly went to a local hotel and sexually assaulted the child.

Rhode Island

May 27, 2017: Two Pawtucket men have been charged with the sex trafficking of two missing girls. Officers received a tip that the girls could be found at a Pawtucket residence. Police responding found them lying on a mattress with four unrelated adult men. Madjer Monteiro and Jamaal Gaitor both face charges of sex trafficking of a minor.

Tennessee

May 12, 2017: To address demand, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation launched a two-day operation in Dyersberg targeting those attempting to purchase illicit sex. Twelve men were arrested.

May 8, 2017: Veronica Boykin, 33, was arrested by Tennessee Bureau of Investigators authorities after receiving information from the Humboldt Police Department. She is accused of offering a 15-year old child to have sex with a man in exchange for giving narcotics to Boykin.

Texas

May 25, 2017: Jirehm Lamarr Curtis Jr. was arrested on drug charges following a traffic stop in March.When he was arrested, he had three females in the car with him. A later investigation by Electra law enforcement found that two of the women were advertised on a website. Curtis has now facing charges of human trafficking for a person under the age of 18.

May 12, 2017: Last fall, the McLennan County sheriff’s office and federal officials from Homeland Security launched a human trafficking investigation in and around Waco. Evidence emerged which demonstrated that a trafficking ring was bringing women in from China and moving them throughout the country as prostitutes. One of the targets of the investigation, Hangf Zheng, was arrested in Austin and charged with engaging in organized crime. An additional suspect, Ling Yu, was arrested in New York City. There are currently outstanding warrants for two other suspects. According to investigators, 16 Chinese women are believed to have worked for the suspects in Texas, New York, Indiana, Washington, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Canada.

May 10, 2017: A routine traffic stop for speeding in Lubbock has led to the arrest of three individuals on human trafficking charges. A license check revealed that the driver of the car had no valid license. The officer also noticed that the three adults in the car were accompanied by a young female. During an interview, the teenager told investigators that the group was traveling from Lubbock to Carlsbad, New Mexico, for prostitution purposes.

May 4, 2017: The Texas Department of Public Safety arrested eight suspects during a four-month-long investigation into human trafficking operations in Alamo City. A ninth person was arrested later. Gabriel De La, 33, has been charged with trafficking of a child and trafficking of a person. He worked at one of the hotels where victims met clients and used his employee discount to book rooms.

Utah

May 13, 2017: A St. George man has been arrested after investigators claim he tried to use an online advertisement to pay for sex with an under aged girl. He has been charged with conspiracy to rape a child and sexual solicitation.

Virginia

May 11, 2017: In Giles County, sheriff’s officers have arrested bail bondsman Gary Karl Gusler, 54, of Newport and charged him with two felony counts of human trafficking and one misdemeanor count of abduction. The investigation began in January into alleged forged checks stolen from Gusler. During the course of that investigation, officers found that there was information that he was bonding females out of jail in exchange for sex and prostitution services. Multiple victims have come forth with stories about being held against their will by Gusler.

Washington

May 10, 2017: In an undercover investigation targeting child sex traffickers, Chelan County Sheriff’s deputies partnered with the Columbia River Drug Task Force, the Wenatchee Police Department, and Homeland Security and arrested 20 men. Three of those arrested have been charged with felonies for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Wisconsin

May 30, 2017: In Washington County, a district judge sentenced Adam James Krimpelbein, 32, has been sentenced to seven years in prison after his conviction of aiding and abetting sex trafficking. He and his co-defendant, Dustin Arthur Heichert, were accused of trying to traffic a 31-year-old woman who was listed as a missing person under civil commitment. Heichert pled guilty in April and will be sentenced in October.

Other Items of Interest

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has begum the investigation of Backpage.com using a new unit he developed under the state’s consumer protection laws.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox participated in a three-day conference at Montana State University to raise awareness about human trafficking. The event was hosted by the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that his office will begin to offer law enforcement certified training to target and reduce human trafficking in the state.

In one of the largest sex trafficking prosecutions in the United States, an indictment unsealed recently in Chicago charges an additional 21 individuals with being involved in an operation that lured Thai women to the U.S. and then forced them to work as prostitutes until they could pay off bondage debts. The women were allegedly rotated through several prostitution houses. The latest indictment issued in this case goes after the money (estimated in the tens of millions of dollars) and high-level members of the organization. An earlier indictment charged 17 individuals, some of whom have already pled guilty.

Police in Alameda encountered two individuals illegally selling fruit on sidewalks. Investigators are now suspecting that these individuals – and others –may be victims of labor trafficking. Further investigation is being conducted.

A candidate for a San Diego State University Information Systems and her thesis advisor have found that emojis are being used in postings on web pages for sexual services. Two years ago, Dr. Murray Jenex uncovered keywords used by online traffickers in ads but thought that more could be done. In their research, the pair found, for instance, that a growing heart and cherry emoji highlighted that the victim being trafficked is a minor and an airplane emoji tells the reader that a person will be in town for just a temporary amount of time. The end result of the research was the development of an algorithm that can sift through classified listings by both keywords and emojis.

Zapeda Patterson’s novel about sex trafficking, Milena, or the Most Beautiful Femur in the World, won the Premio Planeta de Novela, a Spanish literary prize given to an original novel written in Spanish. It has now been translated into English.

A study of sex trafficking in Northern Mexico demonstrates that the majority of women involved in the sex industries along the border with the United States had been trafficked as under-age brides by their husbands.


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.

Faculty Spotlight

NAGTRI's faculty are top-rated experts in their field. Read about them.

Course Schedule

NAGTRI offers high-quality, responsive and innovative trainings.

Research & Newsletters

NAGTRI produces comprehensive research and newsletters on topical legal issues.