Human Trafficking Newsletter May 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

Federal

In March, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Congress has the power to require sex traffickers operating internationally to pay restitution to their victims for trafficking that occurs outside the United States. The case involved Damion St. Patrick Baston who resided in the United States after entering the country illegally. He financed his lavish lifestyle by forcing women to prostitute for him, using threats and physical violence. At trial, he was convicted of 21 counts, including money laundering and human trafficking. However, the lower court ruled that an award of restitution for a victim who had been trafficked in Australia was unconstitutional. The appellate court remanded the case to the lower court so that the award of restitution would be increased to include paying $400,000 to a woman he forced to perform prostitution work for him in Australia.

State

Three Filipino women have brought a lawsuit against former Occidental Petroleum Corporation CEO Ray Irani and his wife. They allege that they were subjected to “slave-like” work hours and are victims of labor trafficking. They alleged that they were brought to the United States through use of Qatar travel documents after working for the Iranis in Lebanon by falsely alleging that they women worked for Qatar royalty.

Legislative Action

Federal

A bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced the Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act, S.B. 2833. It would create a uniform system for reporting data on work visa programs and require making that information available to the public.

H.R. 3694, the STOP Organ Trafficking Act, has been passed out of committee and now is headed to the floor of both the Senate and the House. The bill would add organ trafficking to other forms of human trafficking when the State Department collects data for its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

Enjoying bipartisan support, H.R. 5061, has been introduced. It would authorize the awarding of grants to local educational agencies to train school staff to recognize signs of human trafficking.

State

In California, legislators are considering SB 823 which, if it becomes law, would require the sealing of any non-violent arrest or conviction during the time a person was a victim of human trafficking. The bill has been opposed by the California District Attorneys Association because of concerns that it would encourage traffickers to enlist victims to commit crimes.

SB 110 was signed into law by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. The new law protects the privacy of child victims when releasing criminal justice records.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law SF 2191, which establishes a unit inside the Public Safety Department to work on anti-trafficking issues.

HB 5543 is under consideration by the Michigan legislature. It would enable juvenile victims of human trafficking who were convicted of crimes related to prostitution to clear their criminal records. Three other bills have been introduced, based on legislative recommendations from the Michigan Human trafficking Commission. They are HB 5542 and 5543 (regarding expungement from criminal records violations of local ordinances regarding) and HB 5544 (increasing the penalty to 15 years for sex trafficking). Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced support for the legislative package.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has signed into law LB843. The new law grants legal immunity from prostitution charges to any person law enforcement proves is a victim of human trafficking.

In New Hampshire, the legislature has passed HB 1628. The bill makes it a Class B felony for a person to pay to have sex with someone under 18. It also requires registration on a sex offender registry. In addition, the bill includes paying to watch a sexually-explicit performance by someone under 18 a human trafficking violation.

The New York legislature is considering S.6894 and A. 9453, the Lanza-Paulin bill. This eliminates the necessity to prove force, fraud, or coercion when a trafficking victim is a juvenile.

The Rhode Island Senate has passed the Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking. The uniform law has become law in seven states. The House Judiciary Committee has passed HB 7318 out of committee. The bill stipulates that any person convicted of human trafficking be placed on the state’s sex offender registration list as well as on community notification boards.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed several bills focused on cracking down on child abuse and child sex trafficking. SB 546will give the attorney general the power to issue subpoenas without going to a judge to request from Internet service providers the names and addresses of computers users accessing child pornography. SB 618expands the definition of human trafficking to include soliciting or patronizing a child for commercial sex acts or transporting a child for that purpose.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecutions

Arizona

Apr. 28, 2016: In Tempe, after a months-long investigation, local officials assisted HSI investigators in arresting two individuals, Erik Dunham, 46, and Patcharin Koibuchi, 46, who are being held on suspicion of operating and profiing from a brothel and participating in human trafficking. According to investigators, the pair smuggled women out of Thailed where they were placed in an apartment. Their documents were taken away and withheld until the smuggling debt was paid and they were forced to perform sex acts for money.

California

Apr. 27, 2016: Joshua Richard Dutton, 30, who goes by the stage name “Five Hunnet,” has been charged with five felonies, including sex trafficking of a minor. Despite inconsistent testimony from his alleged victim, a Contra Costa County superior court judge determined there was sufficient evidence to bind him over for trial.

Apr. 22, 2016: Before he was sentenced to 97 years to life in state prison, Jarmar Geeter, 29, flew into a range, threatened one of his victims, and had to be removed from the courtroom. Getter was the first person in San Francisco to be prosecuted under a law which created stricter sentencing guidelines for those convicted of trafficking. His victims were 14 and 16.

Apr. 21, 2016: After a fifteen-month investigation, Fresno police and federal law enforcement arrested 29 people in a large gang sweep in Fresno. Leaders and members of the Dog Pound Gang were arrested and cash and 17 vehicles, including a Bentley, a Range Rover, a party bus, and a boat, were seized. Many of the men are accused of sex trafficking, including the trafficking of minors, and bringing in $30,000 a week to the gang from the trafficking operation. Some of the top leaders of the gang are said to have pimped out up to eight women at a time through five states and in Washington, D.C. Those arrested face federal criminal charges.

Apr. 20, 2016: Six felony charges against Andrew Jordan, 36, have been filed by the California Attorney General’s office in Los Angeles Superior Court, including human trafficking, pimping, pandering, domestic violence, assault, and a racially motivated hate crime. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the charges in a press release which detailed the victim’s testimony at a preliminary hearing in February.

Apr. 8, 2016: In over a month-long campaign against human trafficking, Pomona police have made 123 arrests and rescued a 13-year old child. Forty-three of these arrests were for solicitation of prostitution.

Apr. 6, 2016: Newport Beach police identified a potential victim of sex trafficking when they were conducting an undercover prostitution sting. The victim denied working for a pimp, but messages on her phone led police to arrest Michael Anthony Wimes, 26.

Apr. 5, 2016: A Stockton man, Ricky Lee Richardson, 39, has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor and possession of child pornography.

Colorado

Apr. 27, 2016: More than 15 local police agencies assisted FBI and HSI investigators in an operation focused on curbing sex trafficking and exploitation during World Cannabis Week in Colorado. Five children were recovered and nine adults were arrested for trafficking and 26 for prostitution, including a man who allegedly made arrangements with an undercover officer to purchase a 7-year old for sex.

Florida

Apr. 20, 2016: In Collier County, Moises Rodriguez pled guilty to three felony counts, admitting responsibility for his role in a sex trafficking ring. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment followed by three years’ probation. He admitted to transporting women to brothels and conspiring with one of the ringleaders of the trafficking ring. Fourteen others have been charged in the case. Investigators allege that six women were smuggled into the United States at various times and forced to work as sex slaves in Central and Southwest Florida from 2007 to 2013.

Illinois

Apr. 11, 2016: A labor trafficking investigation initiated by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and HSI investigators has led to federal indictment of a husband and wife, Richard and Maribel Tinimbang, on domestic servitude charges. The case was subsumed into a large federal case (investigated by the FBI, IRS and U.S DOJ, Northern District of Illinois) involving Medicare fraud. The labor trafficking case involves a Filipino woman the Tinimbangs brought to the U.S. after filling out a falsified visa application. They forced her to become a nanny and housekeeper, took her passport, and threatened her to get her to sign a contract that required her to work for seven years at the rate of $66 per day regardless of the number of hours she actually was required to work and to pay back $25,000 if she decided to quit before the seven years were up.

Apr. 1, 2016: The DuPage County state’s attorney’s office announced thatLaburron Jackson, 30, pled guilty to one count of involuntary servitude of a minor and was sentenced to 10 years. The plea stems from an arrest in 2014 when police answered an advertisement offering “2 sexy females.” The victims were 15.

Indiana

Apr. 26, 2016: Sheriff’s deputies in Delaware County arrested Huston Winford Briscoe, 29, and preliminarily charged him with human trafficking and promoting prostitution. He is alleged to have forced his 8-month pregnant girlfriend to engage in prostitution. Alerted by a friend of the alleged victim, undercover police responded to an ad posted for a “hot momma 2 be.”

Louisiana

Apr. 12, 2016: The Hammond Police Department, joined by federal law enforcement agents, arrested two suspects, Romalas Dixon, 37, and Emily Perry, 30, on suspicion of human trafficking. Two victims were found and recovered in a hotel in Hammond. After further investigation, a juvenile victim was also located and recovered in New Orleans.

Maryland

Apr. 22, 2016: Ann Arundel County vice unit officers arrested Joshua Newman after they received a tip that a woman was being forced to prostitute herself. Detectives found online advertisements for the woman and located her in a Linthicum hotel room.

Apr. 19, 2016: A 911 call to Howard County police from a motorist who reported seeing a man yelling and trying to drag a woman out of the back seat of the car in front of him has led to the arrest on human trafficking charges of Charlton Jeanpierre, 39, of California. Police responding recognized human trafficking indicators: possession of two 18-year old females’ identifications, numerous cellphones, and cash. The two alleged victims are from Arkansas.

Apr. 1, 2016: Montgomery County Police have charged Tin Tuan Lu, 36, with human trafficking. Lu owns the Star Foot Spa and the Sun Foot Spa. He would drive workers from his home to the spas in the morning. Investigators learned that some of the female employees performed sexual acts in exchange for additional money.

Massachusetts

Apr. 7, 2016: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced the indictment of five individuals charged with running sex trafficking operations across the state. The five individuals charged are alleged to have operated three different networks operating out of Lowell, Worcester, and Revere.

Michigan

Apr. 18, 2016: At the end of March, a Wayne County jury found Jahan Satati Green not guilty of human trafficking, but, instead, convicted him on two charges of transporting a woman for prostitution, two counts of earning money through prostitution, and conducting a criminal enterprise. Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that Green has now been sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison on the five felony charges.

Minnesota

Apr. 21, 2016: A 911 call from a concerned citizen has led to the arrest of two St. Cloud residents who are facing four counts of sex trafficking. Elijah Ahmad Milsap, 26, and Jade Myanne Orcena, 37, are accused of trafficking two women and advertising them on Craig’s List. The case came to light when one of the alleged victims was able to leave a house and go to a neighbor’s house requesting help.

Montana

Apr. 4, 2016: In Cascade County, Francisco Padilla Johnson, 19, was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in a sex trafficking scheme involving a 17-year old. A second suspect, Joseph Llewllyn Johnson, is scheduled to stand trial in June.

New Jersey

Apr. 11, 2016: The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Jennie Norcross, 29, pled guilty to first degree human trafficking and associated charges a day before jury selection was to begin. Sentencing is scheduled for mid-May; she faces up to 20 years to life in prison. She admitted to recruiting a 16-year old girl into prostitution.

Apr. 1, 2016: Trenton police police investigating a car without a license plate light at a local convenience store found hypodermic needles and notebook pages with names of individuals who were allegedly seeking sex. A woman in the back seat asked to speak to the police privately. She told them that she had advertised herself on Backpage.com as providing sexual services. Darrel Smith, 45, came to her hotel room, pulled a gun, and forced her to work for him after shooting her up with heroin. Smith has been charged with human trafficking , promoting prostitution, and drug trafficking.

New York

Apr. 27, 2016: Theodore Edwards, 49, was arraigned in Orange County Court on 33 felony counts, including rape, kidnapping, and sex trafficking. It is alleged that Edwards kidnapped four women, assaulted them, and forced three of them to perform sex acts with him and with other people.

North Carolina

Apr. 12, 2016: David Gantt, 27, was arrested by officers from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and charged with various crimes, including two counts of human trafficking, two counts of trafficking opium or heroin, and the sale or delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance.

North Dakota

Apr. 2, 2016: A parole officer alerted local police to a Facebook account that showed his parolee holding a young lady on a leash. Subsequent investigations yielded information that Anthony Dante Collier was running a prostitution ring. Police identified three victims who told interviewers that Collier dominated them. One of the victims even deposited money into his account while he was in jail on other charges. He has now been charged on 15 counts of sex trafficking in Clay County.

Rhode Island

Apr. 20, 2016: Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin reported that a Providence Superior Court jury found Curtis Maxie, 60, guilty of first-degree sexual assault, sex trafficking of a minor, and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor.

Tennessee

Apr. 7, 2016: A member of the Gangster Disciple gang, Roger Ernest McClain, Jr., has been sentenced to ten years in prison for sex trafficking. Knoxville police uncovered the crime while interviewing the victim of an aggravated robbery.

Apr. 2, 2016: Asia Hudson, 25, has been charged with promoting prostitution and trafficking for commercial sex. Memphis police reported that Hudson had admitted that she had been traveling with a 14-year old for three weeks and assisting her to have sex in exchange for money.

Texas

Apr. 29, 2016: During a prostitution sting, deputies with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division arrested a number of people, included James Lamont Brown, a convicted murderer. Brown was being questioned when he dropped his phone and an investigator picking it up and saw a text warning about police. The message was traced to a woman from Abilene who was in a car outside the motel along. Police believe she drove one of the women arrested for prostitution to the motel

Apr. 15, 2016: In Wichita Falls, an investigation that began in 2014 has led to the arrest of Gayla Jean Baker on human trafficking charges. She allegedly instructed a juvenile victim of trafficking on how to accept calls for service.

Utah

Apr. 22, 2016: The Bountiful City Police Department led an investigation into Todd Jeremy Rettenberger that has led to human trafficking charges being filed by the Utah Attorney General’s Officeand the Davis County District Attorney’s Office. Rettenberger is currently in Utah State Prison on a parole violation. Investigators received a search warrant to search Rettenberger’s phone and found incriminating evidence including a photo of an open jail cell with the caption, “If nobody talks, everybody walks.” He allegedly used threats against both of his victims and their families to keep the women working.

Apr. 20, 2016: The Unified Police Department in Salt Lake City, along with investigators from the Attorney General’s office, found a 21-year old woman who was being forced to prostitute herself by a couple from Las Vegas. Charles Kelley and Monica Vandermeyden were arrested and will be charged with human trafficking.

News of General Interest

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has announced a partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Kansas Motor Carriers Association that aims to continue to train local law enforcement and educate the trucking industry about the signs of human trafficking.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, together with Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, announced new policies that explicitly prohibit state employees and contractors from engaging in any activities related to buying sex or involvement in any type of forced labor.

Dun & Bradstreet has released the Human Trafficking Risk index. It is designed to give companies an overarching view of their global supply chain to assist in determining whether labor trafficking may be involved in the multiple layers of vendors used throughout the procurement process.


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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