The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
Human Trafficking Newsletter July 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
A coalition of interest groups, including Human Rights Watch, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and the Internet Archive has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act hinders free speech by restricting sex workers’ freedom of expression. Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al. v. United States, No. 1:18-cv-01552 (D.D.C., filed June 28 2018).
The Fight Illicit Network and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act, HR 6069, has passed the House. It would require the Government Accountability office to study “how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex trafficking or drug trafficking, and for other purposes.”
SB 3108 passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was sent to the governor. It amends the Code of Civil Procedure to include the ability of victims of involuntary servitude and labor trafficking to bring a cause of action against an individual or an entity that is involved in his or her victimization.
New York legislators passed a package of legislation to address human trafficking. A06823 would eliminate the present requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion in order to find a person guilty of sex trafficking a minor. The bill also protects trafficking victims who are forced to traffic other minor victims. A10425 was also passed; it requires lodging facilities to provide information concerning services for human trafficking victims. A10869 requires all transportation employees who deal with the public to complete a human trafficking training program.
The Minnesota State Legislature has passed SF 3367 which requires training for hotel and motel employees and managers and to conduct ongoing awareness campaigns on human trafficking.
SB 162 has passed the North Carolina legislature. Among its provisions is the requirement for victim confidentiality in a human trafficking case and furnishing an affirmative defense to a charge of trafficking if a person charged was a victim of trafficking at the time of the offense.
The Ohio legislature has passed SB 4. It would allow those defendants whose crimes were committed during the time they were trafficking victims to seek to have the records of the convictions expunged.
Virgin Island lawmakers passed a bill that increases penalties for crimes involving human trafficking. The Virgin Islands Uniform Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, Bill No. 32-0129, also removes the statute of limitations for crimes involving human trafficking.
Governor Ralph Northam signed a new Virginia bill that adds four human trafficking crimes to the list of charges where bail cannot be granted. HB 1260 states that a person charged with taking or detaining a person for the purposes of trafficking, receiving money from trafficking someone for the purpose of sex, receiving money from the earnings of a trafficking victim, and commercial sex trafficking will not be granted bail.
June 8, 2018: Gilbert police arrested Cody Fay, 23, after undercover officers posing as parents of 2- and 3-year old children agreed to meet him at a Mesa hotel so that he could engage in sexual activity with the children. Fay has been booked on counts of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of a minor.
June 27, 2018: Elan Daniel Seagraves, 34, a former Kennedy High School boys’ soccer coach, faced 11 felony counts in Sacramento County, including human trafficking. He pled no contest to selling minor girls for sex and received a sentence of 13 years, 4 months
Jun3 27, 2018: Andrew Winters, 35, was arrested in Richmond earlier this year during a police operation targeting human trafficking. While in jail, he continued running his business with the assistance of his “business manager,” Zanae Jones, 22. They have now both been charged with human trafficking, including victimizing the same 17-year old that Winters was accused of exploiting when he was first arrested.
June 14, 2018: During an operation that targeted prostitution along the Holt Corridor, Pomona police rescued a 15-year old human trafficking victim and are working to identify the teen’s trafficker.
June 11, 2018: Last year, Louis Ray Coleman, 43, was convicted of 25 counts including kidnapping, rape, child molestation, and human trafficking. He kidnapped a woman who was asking for directions and, later, a 12-year old girl who had run away from a group home. He sexually assaulted his victims for days. He has now been sentenced to 7 life terms plus 300 years in state prison by a Contra Costa judge. He had been arrested and jailed on two previous occasions for similar conduct, one time receiving seventy-one days and, on another occasion, two years.
June 8, 2018: A routine inspection of a Salinas-area cannabis farm revealed that workers were living in shipping containers on the property. A subsequent investigation by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office learned that 20 Hmong men and women, originally from areas in and surrounding Laos, are allegedly victims of labor trafficking. Investigators from the Department of Homeland Security are assisting in the investigation.
June 7, 2018: An investigation by San Francisco police officers and the city’s District Attorney’s office led to the arrest of Kriz Mike Nunez in April. The announcement of the arrest included the information that Nunez has been charged with 27 felony counts, including human trafficking of a minor, pimping and pandering a minor over the age of 16, and narcotic sales. Search warrants led to the seizure of drugs, cash, cellphones, a handgun, and other items.
June 6, 20178: Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson spoke at an April event after a performance of the play, Jane Doe in Wonderland. After he spoke, a teen-ager came up to him and said that she was a victim of human trafficking. Investigators later determined that a couple who had befriended her, San Lindsey Massette, 37, and his wife, Krystina Marie Pickersgill, 27, had prostituted her in San Francisco. It is alleged that the couple would recruit high school girls and, after they turned 18, would force them into prostitution. A search warrant at the couples’ home led to the seizure of two new Jaguars, two Mitsubishi automobiles, and a large sum of cash. Investigators could find no legitimate source of income for the couple. Massette has also been charged with tax evasion.
June 6, 2018: San Bernardino police officers found 17-year old girl who was involved in prostitution. She had been taken from Oakland to San Francisco to Los Angeles and then to San Bernardino. Investigators arrested Victor Demetrus Wilkins, 34, and Aaron James Vaugh, 33, at a motel and booked them on suspicion of human trafficking a minor.
June 1, 2018: In February, William Trefzger, 73, was the first person in Connecticut to be convicted of patronizing a trafficked person after he pled guilty to the crime. He has now been sentenced in Superior Court in Danbury to a ten year prison sentence with one year served. He was among the three men arrested last year on allegations that they participated in a widespread trafficking operation victimizing young men with addiction problems and mental health disorders.
June 13, 2018: In Marion County, a man who was arrested in March for shooting a woman at a local motel has now been charged with human trafficking, deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution, and unlawful use of a two-way communications device. Interviews with the victim revealed that she was controlled by the defendant, Allfred Spaulding, beaten, and forced to give the money earned through prostitution to the defendant.
June 28, 2018: An investigation that began in March 2017 in Fulton County when a woman called 911 asking for help to leave a house where her “boss” was keeping her hostage has led to 62 charges being levied against Kendric Roberts. The charges include labor trafficking, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and participation in criminal street gang activity. He allegedly kept eight women captive in his house and forced them to dance in strip clubs. He also is said to have required the women to get gang-related tattoos as a sign of their loyalty.
June 26, 2018: In Gwinnett County, a man known as “World,” Wendell Gaither, 36, was convicted of sex trafficking two women who had been arrested on prostitution charges earlier in the year. He was also convicted of various charges in connection with drug possession and sentenced to 50 years in prison, 30 of which he must serve without the possibility of parole.
June 7, 2018: A Seattle, Washington, social worker contacted Conyers police to request a welfare check on a 20-year old woman. When police responded, the woman, who was staying at a motel, said she had been forced to stay in the room and prostitute herself by the man with whom she was staying, Brad Gaskin. Gaskin was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.
June 6, 2018: A collaborative effort among the FBI and 28 local law enforcement agencies in six metro counties in and surrounding Atlanta resulted in nearly 160 children being rescued, including one who was 3, and nearly 150 arrests.
June 9, 2018: A family member received a text message from a teenager that read, “He’s been pimping me out,” and “He was trying to bring me out of state, to Missouri.” She also left a “help me” voicemail message. Police subsequently arrested Richard Lynn Wisecup, 56, in Des Moines. He was charged with human trafficking and with possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. The 17-year old, who had been listed as a missing person at the National Crime Information Center, was located in Wisecup’s apartment.
June 14, 2018: Louisiana state troopers stopped two vehicles, one driven by Nicholas Harris, 28, and the other by Stephanie Harris, 32, of Denham Springs for traffic infractions. Inside the vehicles were 25 illegal aliens, including two minors. Police charged the drivers with vehicle violations and human trafficking. According to investigators, the undocumented individuals were being forced into debt bondage.
June 14, 2018: The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office announced that Hong Wang, 56, Hanfeng Zhang, 55, and Xizoxia Lin, 42, have been arrested on an assortment of human trafficking charges. A multi-month investigation revealed that four massage parlors employing around 30 Asian women were providing sexual services. One small apartment served as a dormitory for the workers.
June 4, 2018: Baltimore officials announced that Donte Alexander Barr, also known as Tavon Williams or “Tay,” was arrested and indicted by a grand jury on 19 counts of human trafficking. He allegedly victimized 25 women, most of whom are minors. The arrest is a result of a year-long investigation which started with a tip to the Department of Juvenile Services.
June 19, 2018: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that two men were indicted in connection with trafficking numerous victims for sex, including minors on Cape Cod and in Boston. A Statewide Grand Jury indicted Patrick McDowell, 52, and Jayquan Monteiro, 24, for trafficking victims for sex at McDowell’s residence in Dennis and at hotels on Cape Cod and in the Boston area. McDowell allegedly met some of the victims through Monteiro, who acted as pimp and arranged some of the visits.
June 18, 2018: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced the arrest and arraignment of Geekin Ng, 59, of Quincy for trafficking multiple women at a residential brothel in Allston and at the Lucky Star Body Work in Stoneham. The investigation was handled by the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s office and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab, with assistance from the Boston and Stoneham Police Departments.
June 20, 2018: Metro Detroit residents Lorenzo Darrell Hatcher, 25, and Lamyia Leisha-Pamela Sneed, 21, are facing human trafficking charges for allegedly forcing a young woman from Columbus, Ohio, into prostitution. Hatcher allegedly kidnapped and assaulted the woman and Sneed is accused of transporting, facilitating, and accepting earnings in connection with the victim.
June 18, 2018: Marguez Comingo Lopez, 29, who is currently in prison serving a sentence for burglary, has been charged with sex trafficking a minor in Hennepin District Court. He allegedly invited a 15-year old to party with him at a local motel and then forced her to stay to engage in prostitution with a number of men. After a few days, she was able to go to the lobby and there, encountering a security guard, begged him for help.
June 23, 2018: A Lincoln man, Ahmed Salem, has been booked on charges of enticing a 15-year old girl into prostitution. According to investigators in the Nebraska Attorney General’s office, he communicated with the minor on social media and offered to pay her to have sex with him.
June 12, 2018: The Central Region of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force conducted an undercover sting focused on demand. They arrested seven individuals that were charged with soliciting commercial prostitution.
June 19, 2018: The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Tony L. Davis, 34, has been charged with human trafficking and criminal coercion in connection with his alleged prostitution of a 22-year old victim. He is said to have coerced her by making her believe that she would be injured if she did not comply.
June 27, 2018: The Orange County Prosecutor’s office has charged Faniqua Patterson, 25, with sex trafficking and associated crimes. She is alleged to have victimized a 15-year old runaway, trafficking her for sex. The names of three other defendants are under seal.
June 28, 2018: Davidson police asked assistance from Homeland Security investigators after a 49-year old woman reported that she had been assaulted at a nail salon where she was employed. The investigation has resulted in the arrests of a man and woman, Nip Tsi, 36, and Tien Luong, 34, on charges of assault, human trafficking, and involuntary servitude.
June 7, 2018: Columbus police announced that they had arrested “Jamaican Rick,” whose real name is Andrew Harris, on human trafficking allegations. In one case, he is accused of torturing a woman with a blowtorch after she refused to continue to participate in prostitution. He allegedly exploited his victims’ addiction to heroin.
June 28, 2018: Tulsa police arrested Michael Allen Brown, accusing him of providing a 17-year-old girl with drugs and selling her for sex. After she escaped, he is said to have continued to threaten her, showing up at her school with another man and trying to drag her into his car. Police say he contacted her through Facebook messenger.
June 17, 2018: A North Carolina man, Lavelle Dinkins, 22, has been charged with sex trafficking a 13-year old girl in Pittsburgh. Two other men, Sadarius McKinney, of Kentucky, and Elijah Clark, East Hills, are being sought as having had sex with the girl despite knowing her age.
June 7, 2018: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced that Chaz Jordan, 31, pled no contest to 12 human trafficking related charges. He trafficked a 15 year old girl he had met on the dating site Badoo.com and an investigation showed that he had trafficked other young women as well. He faces up to 99 years in prison.
June 6, 2018: A Conway man pled guilty to one charge of forced labor for victimizing a mentally-challenged man to work at his restaurant. He required the victim to work 100 hours a week without pay over a number of years and subjected him to abusive language and acts of violence.
June 15, 2018: The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of three adults on charges of sex trafficking a 15-year old girl.
June 20, 2018: In San Antonio, Givanni Marcello Sarles, 21, has been arrested on charges of sex trafficking a minor. Sarles is alleged to have met a 15-year old girl on Facebook, posted her on Backpage.com, and directed her in prostituting herself. He is also alleged to have engaged in sexual relations with her.
June 1, 2018: The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office investigated the Vegas Buffet in Waco and detained 17 individuals, most of whom were from Guatemala and others from countries in Asia. Two individuals, husband and wife Zhi Jimmy Lin and Yali Yang, were arrested on labor trafficking charges. One alleged victim told authorities that the workers had to pay back a $80,000 smuggling fee once they were in the United States. It was also reported that the workers sometimes worked six days a week for thirteen hours and made just $6.41 an hour. Additional search warrants were served on two residences where the workers lived.
June 27, 2018: Vermont State Police arrested EMT worker Douglas Hersey, 43, of Plainfield, on numerous charges. He is alleged to have used platforms such as Craigslist to recruit a minor for commercial sex.
June 1, 2018: Three individuals were arrested in Virginia Beach on charges that they were involved with a sex trafficking ring that could extend all the way to Alabama. Joshua Spardley, Summer Taylor, and Kyiyonazia Thrasher were arrested at a local motel.
June 5, 2018: Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office is participating in an investigation of potential labor trafficking at a company doing business at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Investigators from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security are leading the investigative effort to determine whether complaints of trafficking and labor exploitation can be substantiated.
June 22, 2018: An Appleton woman, Shawna Baxter, accused of of getting runaways high on meth and forcing a “low-functioning adult” to perform sex acts pled guilty to receiving compensation for human trafficking, 2d degree recklessly endangering safety, intentionally contributing to delinquency, and pandering. Four other charges were dismissed. She will be sentenced in September.
June 1, 2018: One of the 25 individuals arrested during an undercover operation in northeastern Wisconsin has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Door County Circuit Court. Gerard A. Ratajczak, 48, was convicted of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and attempted child enticement when he attempted to buy sex services with a child. His sentence will be divided into 7 years of initial confinement and 7 years of extended supervision.
Other Items of Interest
The U.S. Department of State released its annual Trafficking in Persons report. For the U.S., the report noted that there was an increase in the number of prosecutions and convictions, but a decrease in investigations.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office has launched a new online resource that will assist human trafficking victims to find services. The site gives a comprehensive list of services for those seeking to exit their victimization and includes both short-term and long-term shelters, health, substance abuse, education and employment services, and law enforcement contacts.
A case that was initially investigated by Minnesota’s Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and then prosecuted by the federal government has led to a guilty plea by Pisanu Sukhtipyaroge, the owner of the Royal Orchid Restaurant, to visa fraud and alien harboring. The defendant still faces charges in Anoka County with one felony count of labor trafficking and one felony count of third degree criminal sexual conduct. In another labor trafficking case from Oregon and Washington that similarly involved restaurant workers, Tanya Jumroon pled guilty to visa fraud conspiracy and financially benefitting from forced labor in federal court.
In a federally prosecuted case, Huntsville, Alabama, resident Billy R. Edwards has pled guilty to commercial sex trafficking. He paid a Honduran man to have sex with the immigrant’s teenage son. The father has also been charged.
The Houston police department has started posting pictures of those arrested for solicitation and for compelling prostitution.
An investigation by the Guardian revealed that women in U.S. prisons are being recruited by sex traffickers who force them into prostitution when they are released. The investigation also revealed that the bail bond system is being used in sex trafficking operations in Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.
In November 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice devoted the entire issue of its U.S. Attorneys’ Bulletin to the subject of human trafficking. That resource is available here.
Polaris has issued a report based on data from 2015 to 2017 on human trafficking involved with workers on temporary work visas. The report concludes that the country’s temporary work visa program is badly flawed and suggests steps needed to fix it. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes highlights the report on his website.
With the growing awareness of the extent of human trafficking, there is also concern about people seeking legal status in the country making false claims of victimization. The conundrum for law enforcement and those who process visa requests is trying to determine what has actually occurred. An article in Down East explores the story of a Kenyan runner in the article “Is This Man a Victim?”
According to a report published in conjunction with the British Embassy in Caracas, one of the consequences of the crisis in Venezuela is the vulnerability of young girls to the manipulation of Colombian gangs and paramilitary groups who exploit them for sex trafficking. They are shuttled across the border to Bogota where they are trafficked across Latin America.
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 email@example.com.