The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

Human Trafficking Newsletter September 2018

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 district judge has ruled that Harvey Weinstein can be sued for violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. A lawsuit, filed by a young actress, claims that Weinstein coerced her to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for a promise (not fulfilled) of a movie role. The judge held that the inducement to have sex falls within the statute which makes it a crime to entice and force a person to commit a commercial sex act in return for something of value. Noble v. Weinstein et al., 17 Civ. 9260 (S.D.N.Y.), op. filed Aug. 18, 2018. A second actress has now sued Weinstein in federal court in Los Angeles.

State

In two Illinois cases, People v. Ziemba, 100 N.E.3d 635 (2018), and People v. Gaciarz, 98 N.E. 3d 406 (2017), an Illinois Appellate Court uphold the Kane County conviction of two men for involuntary sexual servitude of a minor. The men exchanged text messages with an Aurora police officer who was posing as a mother pimping out her two minor daughters; they then traveled to a location where they expected to have sex with a minor. The court held that the Illinois statute that criminalizes attempting to obtain by any other means a person under 18 years of age to involve in a sexual activity includes cases where no actual minors are involved.

The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and 180-year sentence of Anthony Windle who sex trafficked a young woman and a 15-year-old minor. The court held that a defendant does not need to know that the victim is a minor to be convicted of sex trafficking of a minor.

In Texas, the Harris County Attorney has filed a lawsuit against 86 individuals seeking to stop the prostitution activity that is occurring along Houston’s west side, known as the “Bissonnet Track.” Each one of these individuals has been arrested in the area for a prostitution-related crime, some of them for sex trafficking and aggravated assault. The lawsuit alleges that these individuals are a public nuisance and asks the court to forbid them from engaging in any activity in the area that leads to buying or selling sex or other crimes. The lawsuit includes an “opt out” provision that would permit a defendant who has been a victim of sexual assault or human trafficking to receive social services and opt out of the injunction.

Legislation

In California, the legislature has passed and sent to the Governor a number of bills addressing human trafficking. AB 900 authorizes victims of human trafficking to receive compensation for any income they have lost from the California Victim Compensation Board resulting from their being trafficked. AB 1735 would extend court-issued protective orders to victims of labor trafficking and adult victims of pimping for up to ten years. AB 1861 would require that students in grades 7 to 12 receive information about human trafficking including how social media and mobile applications are used for human trafficking. AB 1882 makes it a crime to contact or communicate with a minor, or attempt to contact or communicate with a minor, with the intent to commit human trafficking of the minor. AB 2105 adds a provision to the current civil actions law that would allow for punitive damages up to three times greater than authorized by statute if specified findings are made by the trier of fact in a lawsuit brought by a minor or non-minor against the person who has trafficked him or her. AB 2992 requires the Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training to develop a course on commercial sexual exploitation of children and victims of human trafficking.

HB 4340 has been signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. It expands the list of establishments that are required to post the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice to include massage parlors, certain large public events and gatherings, schools, and tattoo and piercing parlors. Enforcement of the new law is placed in the agency regulating the particular establishments and local law officials.

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into a law SB 4. This new law would allow a victim of human trafficking to have records expunged that involve a finding of not guilty or having charges dismissed because the person was a victim of human trafficking. It would also allow the expungement of a criminal conviction, except for stated offenses, if participation in the offense occurred because the person was a victim of human trafficking.

State Investigations/Arrest/Prosecution

Alabama

Aug. 3, 2018: Birmingham police investigators received information about a 16-year old girl who was a possible human trafficking victim. After talking with her, three individuals were identified as the suspects in the case and evidence collected led to their arrests. James Harris, Lacrystal Crawford, and Tyrone Allen were taken into custody after a warrant was obtained for each suspect.

California

Aug. 31, 2018: In one of California’s first farm labor trafficking cases, Efren Alvarez, 53, was convicted in Fresno Superior Court of one felony count of human trafficking and three felony counts of extortion. Alvarez utilized a scheme in which he obtained victims’ visas, passports, and other documents and held them as collateral for a loan. He threatened to harm the victims and report them to immigration if they did not continue to work for him.

Aug. 29, 2018: Bakersfield police were called to check on the welfare of a juvenile who was at a local motel. When police located the 15-year old, she was in the company of Corrion Loran, 18. It was determined that the juvenile was involved in an intimate relationship with Loran and had been victimized by being prostituted. Loran was arrested and is facing charges of human trafficking of a juvenile, pimping and pandering of a juvenile, and statutory rape.

Aug. 21, 2018: Michael Shaw, 38, who “purchased” a woman from another trafficker and who assaulted the victim when she attempted to flee, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. He pled no contest to human trafficking and related charges in San Fernando Superior Court last month.

Aug. 11, 2018: Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley announced that Jaquian Iscell Burtwon, 22, was sentenced to six years, four months in state prison for felony pandering and human trafficking of a minor.

Aug. 10, 2018: Three California men are facing human trafficking charges for allegedly victimizing two teenage girls who were brought from northern California to Orange County. Rafael Montano, 18, Ivan Ulises Zamor, 18, and Jonathan Deanda, 19, are accused of contacting a 17-year-old through social media and then driving her and a 16-year-old girl to Orange County and forcing them into prostituting themselves. Police located one of the victims along a Santa Ana street and then went to a hotel where they found the three suspects and the 16-year old.

Aug. 7, 2018: As part of a plea agreement in Contra Costa County, Jeremiah Eli Bessolo-Marsh, 22, pled no contest to three felony charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, furnishing drugs to a minor, and dissuading a witness. Charges of human trafficking of a minor were dismissed. He is expected to receive a suspended sentence in September.

Connecticut

Aug. 27, 2018: A woman called Windsor police to report she was being held by a man and a woman against her will. Police responded and arrested Jerome Edison, 47, and Eric “Butter” Spencer, 28. The woman told police that she was traveling to Connecticut to visit Spencer and was surprised, when she arrived in Philadelphia, to see Edison. When they arrived in Connecticut, Edison told her that she was going to have to work as a prostitute to earn back money he spent on her airfare.

Aug. 24. 2018: In Danbury, Robert King, who was arrested on sex trafficking charges two years ago and accused of running a ring that preyed on young men with mental health and addiction issues for two decades, has pled guilty to lesser charges in return for a four and one-half year sentence. Investigators alleged that King would ply victims with drugs and then sell them into prostitution when they incurred heavy drug debts.

Florida

Aug. 31, 2018: A woman who is legally blind posted a message on Facebook asking for employment in Jacksonville. Angel Williams, 22, responded saying she was looking for someone to babysit her children. When the woman went to Williams’ house, there were no children and she was not allowed to leave; she told police that an unknown man held a knife to her throat and her hands were zip-tied. She was then sexually assaulted by the man and a confederate, Ricardo Guillen, 27. She was then forced to have sex with a third man at a hotel and, at another hotel, was prostituted again. Williams, who has four different aliases, was arrested. Guillen was already in jail for another offense.

Aug 21, 2018: Jacksonville police arrested 22-year old Michael Cook on charges that he trafficked a child under 18 or someone who is mentally incapacitated and an adult. He is also charged with drug-related crimes.

Georgia

Aug. 21, 2018: Four people have been arrested after a 15-year-old told Marietta police that she was forced to have sex with multiple men in a local motel. Kamari, Bolden, 22, Laura Waugh, 17, Kenneth Thomas, 22, and Douglas White, 26, were charged with human trafficking and related offenses.

Indiana

Aug. 1, 2018: A probable cause affidavit was filed against a Putnam County couple, Robert and April Glaze and Paul Crowder, 57, alleging that Crowder paid the couple money to have sex with two girls under the age of 16. The three have been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit child molestation.

Kansas

Aug. 24, 2018: Wichita police and federal officials executed a search warrant in Wichita at an address given to them by a 15-year old girl. Seven individuals have been arrested who are said to be involved with child sex trafficking.

Kentucky

Aug. 8, 2018: In Ohio County, a grand jury has indicted Shelley Hayes, a mother of seven, on numerous counts that involve rape, sodomy, and human trafficking of her own children. More arrests in this case are expected.

Louisiana

Aug. 10, 2018: Dusan police are investigating a possible human trafficking case involving a 16-year old boy and a 27-year old man who met on Tinder. The minor asked that motel personnel call 911. The juvenile was reporting missing from Missouri; he allegedly was taken across country to California and then to North Carolina by the adult male who is a truck driver. After he was rescued, he was taken to a local hospital to be treated for scratches and what looked like human bites. Officials are investigating and have asked the FBI to help to determine whether criminal activity had occurred in Louisiana.

Aug. 2, 2018: Linan Tian, 35, and his wife, Bing Bing Li, were arrested a year ago on charges of operating a massage parlor in Caddo Parish and other parlors in other states that were a front for sex trafficking. Tian pled guilty and was sentenced to 18 months at hard labor and ordered to forfeit the assets seized, including money, two vehicles, phones, and computers. Bing Bing Li pled guilty to misdemeanor money laundering and received a six-month sentence.

Maryland

Aug. 29, 2018: A robbery investigation in Jessup in February, 2018, led to the arrest of Jabari A. Theodore, 27. He was with a woman who detectives knew was a victim of human trafficking; an ad was found for prostitution involving her. Theodore has now pled guilty to charges involving human trafficking and prostitution. He will be sentenced in November in Howard County.

Massachusetts

Aug. 29, 2018: Attorney General Maura Healey announced that a statewide grand jury indicted Geekin Ng, 59, on several counts including trafficking persons for sexual servitude, deriving support from prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution, keeping a house of ill fame, and money laundering. He is accused of running a residential brothel in Allston as a front for human trafficking.

Michigan

Aug. 9, 2018: A mother of a 15-year-old runaway called the Genessee County Sheriff’s department and said her daughter was being held captive at a home on the east side of Flint. The child had run away about three weeks prior. Police have now arrested Corey Nolden, aka “Murder,” on charges that include sex trafficking a minor. When the child was found, she was high on crack cocaine and had evidently also been kept sedated on a prescription drug. According to police, Nolden advertised the girl on a prostitution website. Nolden has been arraigned on 14 charges including human trafficking, prostitution, criminal sexual conduct, delivery of cocaine, and child sexual abuse. Another woman, who was also staying at the house, is facing two counts in connection with the incident.

Aug. 7, 2018: In Detroit, Travan Baskerville was sentenced to 60-100 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction and another 60-100 years in prison for a human trafficking conviction. He was found guilty of killing a person who had come to his home to respond to an advertisement for a sexual encounter with a 16-year old girl. Baskerville shot Douglas Calhoun after an argument ensued and then dumped his body in a vacant home. The juvenile Calhoun was trafficking led police to the body.

Minnesota

Aug. 20, 2018: A Hennepin County jury convicted Sonam Tsering, 37, of receiving profits from prostitution, promoting prostitution, and sex trafficking. He was one of the leaders of a ring that brought Chinesse women to Edina and Richfield for commercial sex. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Aug. 6, 2018: A sex trafficking sting that was active during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis has led to felony charges being filed against Ayeh Cohen. Cohen is a rabbi who works as a youth outreach director at Minneapolis Community Kollel. He allegedly responded to an ad on the website Grindr where law officers were posing as a 16-year old boy.

Missouri

Aug. 22, 2018: A woman from Columbia has been charged with sex trafficking her disabled 14-year old daughter. Renee M. Collins, 49, was charged with second-degree trafficking of a child under 18 and first-degree child endangerment. Her boyfriend, William A. Thomas Jr., 44, was charged with first-degree rape. The FBI and Columbia Police investigated a reported human trafficking incident at a local hotel in July 2017. The child, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism, was taken into protective custody. Mentally impaired with the capacity of a 2- to 3-year old, the child told investigators that her mom was paid cocaine by the “bad men.”

Nevada

Aug. 30, 2018: Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced the sentencing of Richard James Mapp, 35, in Las Vegas for inducing a minor child to engage in prostitution. Mapp is a former football player for the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He was sentenced to 24 to 60 months on each of two charges, child abuse and pandering. The sentences will run concurrently.

Aug. 16, 2018: An investigation by the Child Exploitation Task Force, composed of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives and FBI agents, arrested William Hoard, 24. He has been charged with numerous felonies, including sex trafficking a child under 16.

New York

Aug. 28, 2018: Rakeem Holland, 27, of Belleport, Long Island, is facing sex trafficking and drug charges. The case began as a missing persons investigation. Police allege that the two young women who were reported missing were actually being sold for sex and that Holland was providing them heroin or crack with the purpose of getting them addicted.

North Carolina

Aug. 28, 2018: Raleigh police investigators arrested Hurmond Strickland, 23, and charged him with five felonies in connection with two victims of human trafficking. He is accused of profiting from the prostitution of an adult and a minor whom he is accused of holding in sexual servitude.

Aug. 13, 2018: A couple who were arrested in June in Davidson on suspicion of human trafficking and involuntary servitude have now been charged with aggravated assault, felony conspiracy, and intimidation of a witness. The re-arrest of Tien Luong, 34, and Nip Michn Txi, 36, stemmed from an incident at the Luxury Nail Salon involving a 57-year old victim who is related to Luong.

Ohio

Aug. 31, 2018: The owners of the China Wok Buffet in Celina have been arrested on records tampering charges in connection with a human trafficking investigation. The case against Kang Yong Chen, 46, and his wife, Mei Yu Zheng, 45, began when a citizen made a complaint of possible human trafficking. Vandalia police saw groups of people of Asian or Middle Eastern descent dropped off at businesses in Vandalia. The investigation allegedly found that there were people working for the restaurant who were not on the payroll. Investigators say that additional charges may be filed.

Aug. 14, 2018: Worthington Police raided a massage parlor that investigators believed was involved in human trafficking. Two women were rescued. Neighbors had complained about the Asia Good Luck Massage Spa to police, noting that people were living there and supplies were brought in twice a week. Police are searching for the owners of the spa.

Aug. 7, 2018: Mahoning County investigators arrested a man, Ronald Hellman, 50, who they believe has operated a human trafficking ring involving at least 80 women for about 15 years. He has been charged with four counts of compelling prostitution involving a minor. Authorities allege that the victims were kept in servitude through drug addiction or by force.

Oregon

Aug. 17, 2018: Terrence Mantrell Williams, 35, was among the men arrested in 2017 during “Operation Cross Country.” A previously convicted sex offender, he has been sentenced by a Marion County judge to five years in prison after he pled guilty to promoting prostitution and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon.

Pennsylvania

Aug. 1, 2018: After a months-long investigation into child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, Kevin Newell was arrested in New Jersey pending extradition proceedings to Pennsylvania. The investigation was initiated by police in North Strabane, about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, and by Homeland Security investigators.

South Carolina

Aug. 21, 2018: The Myrtle Beach Police Department arrested Mark Cortez Spicer, 23, who is accused of being involved in the trafficking of a 16-year old girl. An additional suspect, Phylicia Marie King, was taken into custody in Iowa and is awaiting extradition.

South Dakota

Aug. 14, 2018: Attorney General Marty Jackley, along with U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons and local officials, announced that an investigation by the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Homeland Security investigators resulted in the felony arrests of six individuals during an undercover sting conducted at the Sturgis rally. The individuals have been charged in federal court with violations of 18 U.S.C. 2422(b), attempted enticement of a minor using the internet.

Texas

Aug. 31, 2018: San Antonio police were conducting a prostitution sting in a local park when they were led to a nearby motel. There they encountered a missing juvenile who told police she was forced to have sex with clients arranged by Christopher Jones, 34. Jones was found at the park and taken into custody.

Aug. 23, 2018: McLennan County Sheriff’s deputies served search warrants at the Sun Orchid Spa and an apartment in Waco. Upon searching the spa, they found two women living in the back of the business. Neither of the women could speak English. Ren-Quan Zheng, 56, was arrested and charged with first-degree organized crime.

Aug. 3, 2018: The Texas Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest of a couple, Jeffrey Leon Barrett and Barbara Jean Barrett of Greenville, on charges of human trafficking. They are accused of labor trafficking for using their five adopted children to run a puppy mill operation. The couple are awaiting trial on charges of cruelty to non-livestock animals in connection with the seizure of over 100 animals from their property east of Greenville. The human trafficking charges are based on the investigation into the welfare of the children, ages 12 to 17, four of whom had wounds in different stages of healing on their bodies. The children, adopted from California, were reportedly pulled from school to care for the animals and complete chores.

Wisconsin

Aug. 15, 2018: Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that Chicago resident Glenwood Brown, Jr., was arrested on charges involving human trafficking in at least nine states. The investigation was led by agents from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation with assistance from the FBI. The criminal complaint filed in Outagamie County alleged that Brown trafficked two women out of hotel rooms in Appleton and Grand Chute and that the trafficking involved at least eight additional states, including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Other Items of Interest

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is launching an initiative to help raise awareness of human trafficking. He is asking high school juniors and seniors and all college students to create a logo for Kentucky’s Human Trafficking Taskforce.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced that his office, along with the Nevada Trucking Association and Soroptimist International of Truckee Meadows and Washoe County, hosted the Fifth Annual Benefit dinner for Survivors of Human Trafficking. The four previous dinners raised a total of $185,000.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recorded a Public Service Announcement with actor Matthew McConaughy, a Texas native, on human trafficking awareness. The PSA is on the actor’s Facebook page and was viewed 36,000 times in less than six hours.

Five United States sailors are facing courts-martial for sex crimes and other misconduct in Bahrain and an officer remains under investigation. According to the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, Bahrain is a destination for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

Two dozen law enforcement agencies across 12 states took part in the National Johns Suppression Initiative. At least 473 sex buyers were arrested and up to 12 juveniles rescued. Organizers launched an artificial intelligence bot in several locations, including Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

A report recently released by the Financial Action Task Force and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering details the ways human traffickers launder proceeds.

The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office is using volunteers to span out across the county on one day to check that the businesses required to post a human trafficking notice have complied. The volunteers will have additional posters to hand out and investigators will return to ensure that the notices have been posted. In California, bars, airports, bus stations, truck stops, urgent care centers, sexually oriented businesses, and massage parlors that use non-certified massage service people must post the notices in conspicuous places.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has begun to prepare for the Super Bowl to be held in Atlanta next February. This month they visited local gas stations and convenience stores to educate clerks about warning signs of human trafficking and to hand out flyers promoting the human trafficking hotline that can be posted in bathroom stalls.

Scientists at the University of Texas have received a National Science Foundation grant to explore ways to disrupt human trafficking supply chains related to Hurricane Harvey reconstruction efforts. The results of the study will help inform policymakers, business, owners, and regulators as to how they can better combat human trafficking in the construction industry.

U.C. Santa Cruz doctoral student Sabina Tomkins recently researched the link between extreme weather and human trafficking with researchers from the university and InferLink, a company that specializes in data extraction and integration. They found an uptick in online ads for sexual services mentioning Jamaican and Caribbean ethnicities following a 2016 hurricane in the Caribbean.

The National Review published an article detailing the relationship between the porn industry and human trafficking.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced a number of anti-human trafficking initiatives, including creating an anti-human trafficking director position in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, strengthening data collection, appropriating $5 million in funding to provide human trafficking victims assistance, and $4 million in grants to target gangs and violent criminal networks.

Hillsborough County, Florida, has followed the lead of Tampa by passing an ordinance requiring massage and bathhouse businesses to conduct background checks on all employees and keep a record of all customers for up to two years. The ordinance also includes specifics on what employees must wear and places responsibility on landlords to ensure that businesses to which they lease have proper permits.

A BJA-funded training on labor trafficking is being held in Dimondale, Michigan, on September 25-27. Interested individuals can register with the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute at http://umcpi.org/register.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance is sponsoring two free webinars offered by Fox Valley Technical College: On September 13, there will be a webinar on strategies for witnesses in child sex trafficking and exploitation cases. On September 20, a webinar will be held on trial preparation for prosecuting sex traffickers. For further information on registering, contact askamber@fvtc.edu.


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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