Human Trafficking Newsletter October 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

On September 13, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the stay sought by lawyers for Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer. The Court reinstated the order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Ferrer turn over documents sought by the investigative subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Carl Ferrer v. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, No. 16A236

Two Indonesian fishermen have filed a lawsuit against the owner of a Honolulu-based fishing vessel, alleging that they were victims of labor trafficking. They are seeking damages for being held captive on the Queen II in 2009 and early 2010. They escaped the boat while it was docked in San Francisco. Sorihin et al v. Nguyen, No. 4:16-cv-05422 (D. Ct. SF, filed 9/22/2016). For a related news story involving foreign workers on Honolulu-based fishing vessels and the conditions under which they work, click here.

State

In an unpublished opinion, the Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Dwight Jurgens on rape, aggravated human trafficking, and attempted aggravated human trafficking involving women whom he had bonded out of jail as an employee of TNT Bonding. The court noted that the evidence demonstrated that Jurgens had coerced “employment” from the victims, concluding that sexual activity is “employment” under the state’s aggravated human-trafficking statute. Kansas v. Jurgens, No. 113,608 (Sept. 9, 2016) (2016 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 750).

Legislative Action

Federal

A bill has been introduced into the Senate, the Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program Act of 2016, S. 3343, which is aimed at providing a grant to assist in the rapid recovery of missing individuals, including potential human trafficking victims. S. 642, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2016, would clear the criminal records for non-violent crimes of human trafficking victims when the crime was committed as a direct result of their victimization. S. 3441 would provide vacation of some convictions and expungement of some arrests for victims of human trafficking.

H.R. 5963, a bill to reauthorize and improve the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, was passed in the House. It includes in its definition offenders who enter the juvenile justice system as a result of sexual abuse, exploitation, and trauma. H.R. 5970 would permit sentencing judges in child sex trafficking cases to order the Attorney General to publicize the names and photographs of the convicted defendants. The BRIGHT (Bettering Resources in Guarding from Human Trafficking) Act, H.R. 5975, aims to provide mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for certain trafficking offenses. H.R. 6133 has been filed to reauthorize some programs established by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This bill includes reauthorization of money for the Sex Offender Management Assistance Program and extends the time for a victim to file a civil case from three years to ten years. H.R. 6292 has been offered as a companion bill to S. 3441.

State

In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed several bills dealing with human trafficking, SB 1322, SB 1129, , AB 1276, AB 1761, AB 2221, AB 2498, and SB 823. Among other things, these new laws increase protection for sex trafficking victims, allow young victims to testify through closed-circuit television, exempt minors from prostitution penalties, and give courts the authority to vacate minors’ prior prostitution convictions.

Local

In Kansas, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson has asked that Lawrence city leaders consider regulating the local massage industry. He noted that Kansas is one of the few states that does not regulate the massage industry on a statewide level and cited two recent cases in Lawrence where owners of massage parlors have been convicted of human trafficking.

The Anchorage Assembly is considering an ordinance that would require signs to be posted in various establishments that would advertise a number people could call if they suspected that human trafficking activities were occurring.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

Sept. 30, 2016: Shelby County authorities arrested two men, Jeffrey T. Langley, 52, and Sutton S. Burleigh, 35, and charged them with human trafficking offenses. Few details were released but police said surveillance and intelligence gathering led to the arrests.

Sept. 28, 2016: An investigation into a domestic violence assault at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Hoover let to human trafficking charges against Condorius Sanchez Williams.

California

Sept. 26, 2016: Marquell Deante Stewart, 21,aka Kell the King, was arrested by Fontana police after an investigation discovered that he was using several young girls in a prostitution ring. He has been charged with human trafficking and associated crimes.

Sept. 20, 2016: Calaveras County law enforcement authorities reported the arrest of two women, Guadalupe Sierra Arrellano, 43, and Medara Urbietta Estudillo, 44, both undocumented aliens, for allegedly running a large marijuana grow operation using forced laborers to tend the plants. According to the sheriff’s office, four men were kidnapped, threatened, and then forced to work at a site close to West Point. Evidence at the site showed the men were living outside on camp cots. They fled when they learned they might be killed after the harvest. Authorities destroyed 23,000 plants with an estimated value of at least $18 million. In a later story, it was revealed that two more individuals are being sought for being involved in this alleged labor trafficking conspiracy.

For a related story on possible labor trafficking involving Chinese laborers at a marijuana field in Colorado, click here.

Colorado

Sept. 1, 2016: Brian Keith Williams was found guilty on several counts of a grand jury indictment charging human trafficking of several young women and a teen-ager. He trafficked them throughout several Colorado towns, including Fort Collins, Greeley, Denver, and Colorado Springs. He will be sentenced on October 31. (Information provided by Colorado OAG.)

Delaware

Sept. 6, 2016: After Delaware State Police received information that a prostitution ring was being run out of a Rehoboth area motel, they conducted an investigation with assistance from federal officials. The investigation led to the arrest of Marcus Smith, 32, whose phone number was associated with backpage.com advertisements. He has been charged with two counts of human trafficking/sexual servitude.

Kentucky

Sept. 26, 2016: Police in Anderson County arrested Rhode Bell, 32, on human trafficking charges. She allegedly used fraud and coercion to make nine juveniles between the ages of 9 and 16 sell cookies to local residents to support a non-existent charitable organization.

Sept. 7, 2016: Brenda Hopewell, 30, was arrested by Lexington police and charged with trafficking a 15-year old girl. The child turned over her earnings to Hopewell who then paid her in rock cocaine.

Louisiana

Sept. 30, 2016: After a year-long investigation by the special victims unit of the Louisiana State Police and sheriff’s offices in East Baton Rouge and Livingston, four people have been arrested on human trafficking and related charges. The investigation began after state police rescued a human trafficking victim in August 2015. She told police she had been held against her well and forced to participate in sexual activity between June and August 2015.

Maine

Sept. 5, 2016: Curtis Moody, 47, who was in jail on a charge of domestic violence terrorizing, is now facing additional charges of sex trafficking. He allegedly telephoned a woman from jail in Wiscasset and ordered her to prostitute herself to raise money for his bail.

Massachusetts

Sept. 13, 2016: The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office reported that a man from Hyde Park, Marquis Campbell, 24, pled guilty in Essex Superior Court to sex trafficking and related charges and was sentenced to from five to seven years in state prison. Another man involved in the criminal enterprise was sentenced to eight years in state prison in June. Since Massachusetts’ human trafficking law was passed in 2011, the AG’s office has charged more than 25 individuals under the statute.

Minnesota

Sept. 28, 2016: Lee Andrew Paul, 36, was sentenced to 33 years in prison after a Olmstead County jury found him guilty last December of three counts of sex trafficking. Two of his victims were minors, 12 and 16, and the other was 19.

Sept. 13, 2016: A Wisconsin veterinarian has been arrested in Washington County because of his alleged involvement in a sex trafficking operation that brought out of state women into Minnesota. The investigation began when a Woodbury Extended Stay motel owner reported to police that they had received a tip from a Woodbury motel in the Twin Cities regarding a prostitution ring. That day, a reservation that had similarities to the Twin Cities’ reservation was made at the Woodbury motel.

Sept. 12, 2016: In 2014, Alex Trent Hazelrigg, 21, was charged with human trafficking after Waite Park officers investigating a shooting found a 16-year old girl who told police she was being trafficked by Hazelrigg and Jonathon Duane Taylor Hanson, 21. Hanson pled guilty in late August to sex trafficking and attempted murder. Hazelrigg has now pled guilty to sex trafficking and will be sentenced in early November.

Missouri

Sept. 3, 2016: An undercover investigation run by the St. Charles County Cyber Crime Task force has led to the arrest on sex trafficking charges of Corey Gittemeier. He is alleged to have responded to an online ad posted by an undercover officer and offered to pay sex for a person under 14.

Montana

Sept. 21, 2016: In Yellowstone County, Terrance Tyrell Edwards is being held on prostitution charges and being investigated for human trafficking. Edwards allegedly kidnapped a woman from Polson and held her against her will for 11 days.

Nebraska

Sept. 16, 2016: A third person has been arrested who police believe was involved in the sex trafficking of a 15-year old girl from Bellevue. Investigators were told that Jesse Blum, 22, arranged clients to visit the girl. Earlier, Kylie Ray, 19, and Branden Felt, 22, were arrested in the case. The 15-year old, under the influence of methamphetamines, was prostituted in a motel across the street from Offutt Air Force Base.

North Carolina

Sept. 7, 2016: TheFayetteville Police Department received a missing person’s report from a Fayetteville mother about her daughter. The mother reported she was concerned that her daughter was being prostituted by Cleo Chalwell. Investigators found the daughter’s picture on backpage.com and made contact with the victim. Chalwell is now under arrest.

Tennessee

Sept. 14, 2016: In the first such case in the Tri-Cities area, police have arrested Brockett Lang on sex trafficking charges relating to a 15-year old runaway. Police noticed an ad posted on Backpage.com, made contact with the girl, and then located the alleged trafficker nearby.

Texas

Sept. 23, 2016: During a Dallas police sex trafficking sting operation, two men were arrested for responding to an on-line ad for a 15-year old and one woman was arrested for posting a prostitution ad selling herself and a 15-year old girl.

Sept. 15, 2016: Michael Bowen has been arrested and is accused of raping a 15-year old runaway and then forcing her into prostitution. The arrest occurred after Mesquite police contacted Dallas police detectives to help find a missing teenage girl.

Sept. 6, 2016: San Antonio police arrested Darieus Malik Williams, 19, on charges of trafficking persons under 18. According to police, he is accused of helping an Edinburg couple prostitute two 15-year olds. The couple was arrested in April. Williams was located after contacting a 17-year old girl he was accused of prostituting in 2014 and asking her if she wanted to “make that money again.” Williams was also being sought by Bexar County for his role in a 2014 sex trafficking ring.

Utah

Sept. 26, 2016: Sandy police arrested 37-year old Jared Stephen Morgan on aggravated human trafficking and related charges. The arrest stemmed from incidents that occurred in June and July 2014 in Duchesne County. One of the victims was allegedly locked in a shed for weeks and forced to perform sex acts to receive food and water.

Virginia

Sept. 13, 2016: In Norfolk, Travis Brown, 25, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced to 10 ½ years in prison on his guilty plea to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child. Upon release from prison, he will be required to register as a sex offender.

Washington

Sept. 2, 2016: Tacomapolice with the assistance of state and federal authorities raided several massage parlors in east Tacoma and arrested Alqin Jiang, 44, and her son Lian Shi, 21, along with Qiuxia Lei, 39, a worker at one of the parlors. It is alleged that Jiang ran massage parlors in seven different locations within two miles of one another, enslaving the workers. Jiang and Shi each face one count of leading an organized crime operation and seven counts of promoting prostitution. Jiang and Lei are charged with working as prostitutes at the parlors. Officials say that Jiang has ties to massage parlor rings in California and Texas and may be involved in an international prostitution operation.

News of General Interest

The Arizona State University Office for Sex Trafficking Intervention Research has received funding from a Children’s Bureau grant to address trafficking within the child welfare population. The project aims to identify best practices in identification; develop trainings to increase awareness of child sex trafficking; develop multiagency partnerships; and train providers on treatment protocols to prevent reentry.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette opened the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission’s first Fall Conference. The meeting was held in partnership with the State Court Administrative Office and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that The 2016 Florida Human Trafficking Summit will be held this month.

Summit County, Ohio, has established a Restore Court, the first court in the state to received approval from the Ohio Supreme Court for a human trafficking program. The court is designed to help children who are victims or who are in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking by providing services, rewards, and punishments to help them continue on the right path. Another program in Ohio, at the Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus is called the CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits) program. Of the women who complete at least a month of this human trafficking program, nearly three quarters have not returned back in court.

Polaris and Clear Channel launched anti-human trafficking awareness campaign that will run on 53 digital billboards throughout Minnesota.

A new report from Polaris report examines sex trafficking in cantinas and bars in the United States. In a 9-year period, Polaris identified 1,300 potential victims from Latin America in cantina-related cases in 20 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

An article in a Vermont newspaper details DOJ’s new push to deal with landlords who permit illegal activity, such as human trafficking, on their properties.

A report, titled “Asking the Right Questions,” was released by the Advocates for Human Rights reporting on labor trafficking in Minnesota. It provides a series of recommendations and highlights examples of labor trafficking in the state.

An international sex trafficking summit, hosted by Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, drew prosecutors from Asia, the United States, and Canada.


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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