Human Trafficking Newsletter May 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

Class action status is being challenged in an appeal to the Tenth Circuit in a lawsuit brought against a contractor who operates a Colorado facility where illegal immigrants are detained. The detainees are alleging that they are victims of labor trafficking because they were forced to undertake housekeeping chores at the facility.

State

Two of the alleged victims of the Danbury, Connecticut, sex trafficking ring that victimized young men into sex trafficking by ensuring they became addicted to drugs are suing the three suspects in a civil case.

Legislation

Federal

In the Senate, S. 952 has been introduced. It would increase the role of the financial industry in combating human trafficking. A companion bill has been introduced in the House.

HR 1865, a bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934, has been entered in the House. Called the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017,” it would clarify that section 230 does not prohibit the enforcement against providers and users of interactive computer services in any federal or state criminal and/or civil law case relating to sexual exploitation of children or of sex trafficking.

H.R. 1625, “Targeted Rewards for the Global Eradication of Human Trafficking”, is under consideration. It would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to include severe forms of trafficking in persons within the definition of transnational organized crime for purposes of the rewards program of the Department of State.

State

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2238 into law which replaces the term “child prostitution” with “child sex trafficking.” The new law also adds child sex trafficking to the list of offenses eligible for lifetime probation.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law HB 1923 which requires current and future Arkansas commercial driver’s license holders to complete a human trafficking prevention course to obtain or renew a license.

In Colorado, the language of HB 1072 has changed considerably from that reported in the April 2017 Newsletter. The bill, which passed the House and is being considered by the Senate, now includes the knowing provision of travel services within the definition of human trafficking of a minor and includes an affirmative defense if the person being charged was, at the time of the offense, a victim of human trafficking for sexual servitude and was forced into sex trafficking of a minor. Other provisions of the bill concern the placing of a defendant convicted of sexual servitude of an adult on the sex registry (child sexual servitude already requires registry) and the possibility of removal if the person so registered was a human trafficking victim at the time of the conviction. HB 1172 is on the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. It sets out a mandatory minimum sentence if a person is convicted of sexual servitude of a minor.

A bill to create a Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Commission and Advisory Board, SB 42, won fast-tracked approval in the Louisiana Senate.

Kentucky Governor Bevin signed into law HB 524 that requires the human trafficking hotline to be posted in schools.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law SB 308 (HB 632), SB 912 (HB 1219), and SB 107. SB 308 alters the definition of “sexual abuse” to include the sex trafficking of a child by any individual. SB 912 includes children who have been victims of sex trafficking by any individual to be included in the definition of a child in need of assistance. These two pieces of legislation were required in order to be in compliance with the federal Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. SB 107 extends the termination date for the Workgroup to Study Safe Harbor Policy for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking to June 30, 2019.

New language has been amended to Nebraska’s LB289, reported in the February 2017 Newsletter, that would significantly increase penalties and includes buyers in the sex trafficking of a minor offense as well as introducing a new crime of solicitation of a trafficking victim.

A former sex trafficking victim has spearheaded the introduction of AO6834 in the New York legislature to mandate posting of human trafficking information at lodging facilities and require training for employees.

The North Dakota legislature found a way to provide enough money to continue human trafficking victim services. A total of $825,000 was allocated to support investigations and continue providing services including emergency housing.

SB 34 was signed into law in Oklahoma. Under the new law, lack of knowledge of the age of a human trafficking victim is not a defense to prosecution.

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed SB 554 that provides a safe harbor for children victimized by sex traffickers. The legislation requires law enforcement to report to the Department of Human Services any encounter with a minor who has been subject to sexual exploitation.

In Washington, the bill requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, HB 1079 (SB 5029), has passed the legislature. The bill establishes a specific human trafficking criminal no-contact order, helping to protect victims from their traffickers. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed SB 5272 into law. The bill would allow a person to vacate a conviction for prostitution, even though he or she may have committed other crimes since the prostitution conviction, provided those crimes were the result of a prostitution-related offense or being a victim of trafficking.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

April 5, 2017: Jenise Spurgeon has been extradited from Florida and is now in jail in Lauderdale County on multiple charges including 100 counts of child abuse, 11 counts of first-degree human trafficking, and domestic-violence strangulation. Her husband, Daniel, remains jailed in Florida. He is also wanted on over 300 charges involving abuse of foster and adopted children he and his wife were raising in Alabama a number of years ago. The allegations arose when Florida authorities contacted Florence police about crimes that had occurred in Cape Coral and alerting the Alabama authorities that abuse may have occurred in that state as well.

California

April 30, 2017: In an undercover sting operation, Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Taskforce detectives arrested four individuals who allegedly agreed to exchange money for sex with an underage female. Peter Ghanem, 35, Salvador Cuenrostro, 47, Thomas Wilderson, 44, and Mohammed Rahman, 26, were taken into custody.

April 28, 2017: A judge in San Luis Obispo has ruled that Nikko Anaya will be tried as an adult on charges that he lured a 15-year old girl into working as a prostitute. Anaya was 16 at the time.

April 23, 2017: Shaunessy Johnson and Lohandaeron Snale have agreed to plead guilty to pandering as part of a deal with prosecutors. They had been accused of taking a teen girl to San Francisco to force her into prostitution. Snale will serve six years in state prison and Johnson will serve three.

April 20, 2017: Merced officers operating a sting posed as a young girl online; nine individuals have been arrested for arranging to have sex with the under aged “girl.” Coincidentally, at the same time police found a young girl being advertised online and arrested Daniel Luzania, 22, for pimping out a 14-year old.

April 12, 2017: A sheriff’s task force arrested Omar Sanchez, 37, of Norwalk and seized 13 guns while dismantling an alleged prostitution and human trafficking ring. Sanchez has been accused of sexually assaulting at least one woman and one underage girl who worked for his “escort” business. Among the charges facing Sanchez are numerous weapon-related charges as well as human trafficking, piping, pandering, and sexual assault of a minor.

April 8, 2017: During a probation check at a San Gabriel motel, police found three juvenile girls who told them they were being forced into prostitution. Police arrested Thomas Godley, 27, Tyrone Stevenson, 18, and an unidentified juvenile male and booked them on charges of human trafficking.

April 7, 2017: In the midst of their trial for sex trafficking, Kevin Akins, 28, and Aubrie Wilson, 23, accepted a plea bargain. An investigation began in June 2015 when officials found a teen in the desert. It was discovered that the defendants had lured girls and young women to Twentynine Palms, promising them romantic relationships and then forcing them into prostitution. Akins pled guilty to causing a minor to engage in commercial sex, depriving another of personal liberty, pandering by procuring, and threatening a crime. He faces up to 20 years in state prison. Wilson pled guilty to inducing a minor to engage in commercial sex, pimping, and depriving another of personal liberty. She faces up to eight years.

Delaware

April 8, 2017: Jorge Arcinieja, 55, of Georgetown has been charged with human trafficking for sexual servitude, trafficking an individual, and conspiracy. A lengthy investigation of a possible prostitution operation at a mobile home led to the arrest. When detectives tried to enter the home, Arcinieja allegedly tried to flee out the back door. Investigators found a 25-year-old woman from the Dominican Republic whom authorities saw was confined to the bedroom and forced to prostitute herself.

District of Columbia

April 25, 2017: Metro police announced the arrest of Joshua Gibbs, 25, on a sex trafficking of children charge. It is alleged that Gibbs recruited and attempted to transport a minor with the intent to engage in a commercial sex act.

Florida

Apr. 12, 2017: Gabor Acs and Viktor Berki, who were convicted of human trafficking of gay Hungarian men, conspiracy and racketeering, have each been sentenced to 25 years in prison. The men were forced to prostitute themselves in both New York and Miami.

Georgia

April 28, 2017: The Conyers Police Department arrested three people suspected of involvement in human trafficking. Police received a call reporting a soliciting incident at a motel in Conyers. When police responded, they found three men and a 16-yeaqr old girl. One of the men arrested had arranged to have sex with the victim and the other two men were allegedly involved in trafficking the girl.

Indiana

April 13, 2017: Cornelius Thompson, who pled guilty to promoting human trafficking and prostitution in Lafayette, has been sentenced to 15 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no probation.

Kansas

April 6, 2017: AShawnee County District Court judge, following the recommendations of both prosecution and defense lawyers, sentenced Anthony Samuel Long, 28, to 35 years in prison. He was found guilty for attempted aggravated human trafficking, indecent solicitation of a child 14-16 years old, electronic solicitation of a child 14-16 years old, and four counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Kentucky

April 21, 2017: Kentucky State police conducting an undercover operation arrested Miguel Rivea, 27, of Louisville, charging him with one count of promoting human trafficking. It is alleged that he was online and propositioned a person he believed was a 15-year old girl for sex. He was arrested when he arrived at the location arranged for the meeting.

April 21, 2017: Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that Timothy Nolan, 70, was arraigned in Boone County District Court on both human trafficking and unlawful transaction with a minor charges. Nolan is a former Campbell County District Court judge.

Louisiana

April 18, 2017: The Bossier Sheriff Department uncovered a sex trafficking ring that was transporting girls from Arkansas in a U-Haul to a Bossier apartment. Six people have been arrested.

Maryland

April 14, 2017: Michael Joseph Keech, 40, has been charged in Washington County District Court on human trafficking and drug charges. He is alleged to have persuaded a woman into prostitution and led her to believe that if she did not perform, she would be seriously hurt. He advertised her on the website Backpage.com.

Massachusetts

April 29, 2017: In Westboro, during a joint federal, state, and local law enforcement sting targeting those coercing teen girls to act as prostitutes, police arrested Franklin Safo-Agyare, 24, and Carol A. Michaels, 49, who allegedly drove women to a motel to have sex for money.

April 14, 2017: In Fitchburg, Tony O. Callis, 46, was ordered held without bail on allegations that he was involved in sex trafficking, kidnapping, assault and battery, and intimidation of a witness. The charges were filed after a woman walked into the Fitchburg Police Department and reported that she was being held against her will and forced into prostitution by Callis.

April 10, 2017: An arrest warrant for felony sex trafficking has been issued for Willie Hester, 32, for allegedly coercing a woman to prostitute herself and threatening her if she didn’t hand over all the money she made to him. The victim shared an apartment with Hester in Fitchburg. She began by offering massage services for customers until, in March, Hester coerced her to provide sexual services.

April 6, 2017: Two men have been arrested by officers assigned to the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit. Jose Martinez, 25, will be charged with sex trafficking and kidnapping and a man arrested with him, Rashid Parham, will be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and of ammunition.

Michigan

Apr. 3, 2017: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that Andrew Golden, 35, of Sterling Heights, pled guilty to one count of Human Trafficking – Recruiting a Minor for Commercial Sexual Activity. His victim was 17 years old.

Nebraska

April 11, 2017: Brandon Felt, 20, pled guilty to felony attempted trafficking, profiting from human trafficking, and evidence tampering in Sarpy County District Court. He set up ads on Backpage.com for a 15-year old girl who was being sold at a motel near Offutt Air Force Base. A co-defendant, Jesse Blum 23, also pled guilty to sex trafficking but did not appear for his sentencing. He was arrested and is back in jail.

Nevada

April 18, 2017: Members of a Las Vegas regional human trafficking task force served several warrants in a child prostitution case. Among those arrested was a Las Vegas firefighter, Richard Loughry, 46, who is facing several charges in connection with the child sex trafficking investigation.

Oklahoma

April 23, 2017: Tulsa Police Department’s Most Wanted suspect has been arrested. Sarah Jayne Garland is accused of human trafficking, possession of child pornography, lewd molestation, forcible sodomy, and drug-related charges. She is accused of grooming a 15-year old for prostitution.

Oregon

April 29, 2017: Two men were arrested in Portland on charges that they were sex trafficking a 16-year old girl. Tre Jenkins, 22, and Antonio Moore, 20, were arrested at Moore’s apartment after investigators established that the victim was there.

Rhode Island

April 28, 2017: Raysean Williams, a former staffer at the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative in Pawtucket, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking a teenage girl who was under the care of the Department of Children, Youth & Families.

South Carolina

April 1, 2017: In Myrtle Beach, two men have been arrested and charged with human trafficking. Police began investigating after learning that a missing juvenile was in the area and that an ad had been placed on Backpage.com. Willlie Lacy, 26, and David Ward, 24, are now in police custody.

Tennessee

April 24, 2017: Special Agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Human trafficking Unit have arrested two individuals on statutory rape and solicitation charges in Elizabethtown. Robelio E Flores-Rivera, 26, and Adan O Vasquez-Rodriguez, 34, are accused of making contact with two female juveniles and offering them money in exchange for sex.

April 5, 2017: In what authorities say is the first such trial in Williamson County, a jury has convicted Eric Demarco Hamilton, 26, of Flint, Michigan, on one count of trafficking for a commercial sex act and one charge of domestic assault. Hamilton took the victim from a hotel in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and prostituted her in several states before arriving in the county.

Utah

April 14, 2017: Charges against an Ogden couple, accused of running a commercial sex operation out of their residence and forcing drug-addicted women into prostitution by beating them or withholding their drugs, were unsealed. The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed charges against Lynnsie Redish, 20, and Terrance Chaves Jones, 31. The numerous charges include four counts of human trafficking-forced sexual exploitation, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, and money laundering.

March 28, 2017: The Utah Attorney General’s Office charged Yanling Hao with several felony charges including money laundering, pattern of unlawful activity, and exploitation of prostitution. The charges arose from a human trafficking investigation of a massage parlor in Salt Lake County where the defendant is alleged to have knowingly operated and profited from an illegal commercial sex operation.

Wisconsin

April 24, 2037: Freeonquay Jenkins, 25, has been charged with human trafficking and kidnapping of a 15-year old girl from Kenosha and on a similar case in Sheboygan County. He also faces four federal human trafficking charges.

Other Articles of Interest

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy has joined forces with Massachusetts law enforcement to address demand and target the buyers of sex. Since March, the AG’s office and the Massachusetts State Police’s Human Trafficking Unit has worked with local law enforcement in Barnstable, Cambridge, Northampton, and Springfield to arrest a total of 29 individuals.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has announced major new initiatives to combat human trafficking, including a plan to use Missouri’s consumer protection laws to go after traffickers. He has also developed a new unit within the Attorney General’s office dedicated to anti-trafficking efforts as well as forming a statewide anti-trafficking task force.

Resources for AG Offices: Demand an End is a national anti-sex trafficking initiative, initially created in partnership with the Georgia Attorney General’s office and Street Grace. The initiative provides a growing body of materials (print and media) that establish a variety of tools and resources, creating a clear message that is specifically branded for each state and the local state Attorney General’s office. Demand an End focuses on the driving force behind sex trafficking – Demand. For more information or to sign on to the Demand an End National Initiative, contact Street Grace at demand@streetgrace.org.

In Fresno County, California, officials are launching a juvenile human trafficking court, using a three-year grant from the Judicial Council of California.

A study on sex trafficking in Nebraska, performed by data scientists at Creighton University and sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Omaha, is available here.

The Family and Youth Service Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services has published a report that shares information and recommendations to deliver survivor-centered, trauma-informed services for victims of human trafficking and sexual violence.

An interesting article detailing the importance of establishing human trafficking awareness for correctional officers in women’s prisons as well as for the inmates is available here.

Once NASCAR learned of the involvement of the owner of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Bruce Bemer,’s arrest last month for involvement in a human trafficking ring, it terminated its relationship with the race track, effective immediately.

Portland Police have started a new campaign to identify and assist victims of labor trafficking. The “Red Means Help” campaign asks labor trafficking victim to show something red when they encounter a police officer. Information regarding the campaign will be posted in several languages on public transportation and other places where victims might go.

Polaris has issued a new report, The Typology of Modern Slavery, that highlights the various industries and ways in which human trafficking is conducted and people are victimized.

The GAO published a report on the trafficking of indigenous women in the United States.

The Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at the University of Texas issued a report in January that estimates that there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas and the majority of those are victimized in labor trafficking.

Two radio programs last month brought public awareness to the issue of human trafficking in the Philadelphia area.

The results from the largest-ever combined sample of homeless youth in the United States and Canada were announced in April. The researchers found that 19.4% of the interviewed youth were victims of human trafficking, with 15% having been trafficked for sex, 7.4% trafficked for labor, and 3% trafficked for both. Conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University, New Orleans, interviews were held with 911 homeless youth across 13 cities, including 12 cities where Covenant House operates.

The City of Lawrence, Kansas, is training city employees to identify sex trafficking. Fire, medical department employees, and employees in the city clerk’s office will be receiving the training. A similar education program is being run to educate Palm Beach County, Florida, transit workers, parks and recreation employees, code enforcers, and youth service workers.

A paper published in World Development argues that, on average, countries where prostitution is legal experience an expansion of the prostitution market, and an increase in human trafficking.

A series of articles by Ian Abovitz, published in the National Law Review online, explains the contours of Pennsylvania’s Human Trafficking statute in regard to civil suits. The articles explain who can sue under the statute, who can be sued, and the defenses that are not available to the defendant. The series was prompted by the lawsuit that has been filed against a Philadelphia hotel that has been accused of providing rooms to human traffickers.

Verafin, a company that provides fraud detection and anti-money laundering software to the financial industry, offers a webinar on following the money in a human trafficking case. Verafin’s published blogs are also interesting, including this one regarding using analytics to uncover human trafficking victims and this one detailing the sophisticated structure of a human trafficking criminal organization.

NATSO, the organization that represents travel plaza and truckstop owners and operators, has educated its members on human trafficking for the past five years. It has now partnered with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign and will use those resources to enhance its already robust educational efforts.


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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