The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

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

Human Trafficking Newsletter March 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

The U.S. District Court in New Mexico held that two expert witnesses for the federal government could testify about sex trafficking and the prostitution trade in a criminal case against two people accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl to engage in commercial sex acts. The judge found that both experts met all requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 702. United States v. Henry, No. 16-cr-1097 (D.N.M.).

Legislation

Federal

The President signed into law HR 4708, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign Authorization Act. It authorizes DHS to develop training programs as part of the department’s Blue Campaign.

HR 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) passed the House. It was amended to include language from S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act that would allow prosecutors, state attorneys general, and sex trafficking victims to pursue legal action against websites that knowingly assist, support, or facilitate a violation of human trafficking laws.

HR 767, the SOAR to Health and Wellness Act, passed the House. It provides funding to provide training to medical professionals to identify potential victims of trafficking.

HR 5027 (S 2429) has been introduced as a bipartisan, bicameral measure. It addresses the use of drugs to facilitate human trafficking and protect vulnerable victims of trafficking. Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking (PROTECT) Act would amend existing law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act of forced labor constitutes a form of coercion.

HR 4768 has been introduced. It would require the president to develop a national strategy to combat the financial networks of transnational organized criminals, including those involved in human trafficking.

State

A bill has been introduced into the California Assembly which aims to crack down on labor trafficking, estimated to affect 30,000 in San Diego County. AB 2732 would make it a misdemeanor for someone to seize a worker’s immigration documents for the purpose of human trafficking and would impose a fine of up to $10,000. Workers would be required to sign a document that would inform them of legal protections.

Colorado legislators are considering HB 1200 which would criminalize using a computer to engage in prostitution of a minor; it also makes changes to the penalty structure for cybercrime.

The Georgia Senate passed SB 335 which would add the word “patronize” to the state’s sex trafficking bill so that anyone convicted of soliciting or patronizing a person 16 year or older who is the “subject of sexual servitude” would face from five to twenty years in prison.

In Indiana, the legislature has passed HB 1191, which repeals a measure that requires health care workers to report suspected adult human trafficking victims to police. The new legislation would, instead, require health professionals to offer these suspected victims resources to get help. It awaits the governor’s signature.

HB 1246, a bill that would require businesses that might see high levels of human trafficking to hand posters with information about the national human trafficking hotline has been signed into law by Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

SB 67 has been signed into law in South Dakota. The bill allows the expungement of criminal or delinquency records of child victims of human trafficking upon petition to the court.

SB 541 has been sent to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s desk for his signature. It allows the Department of Justice to issue an administrative subpoena to a hotel to obtain basic guest information if there is a reasonable suspicion of human trafficking activity.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

Feb. 9, 2018: Korian Durell Thomas, 32, is in the Shelby County jail charged with human trafficking. He was arrested by investigators from the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Unit who had identified a victim of human trafficking.

Arkansas

Feb. 8, 2018: Charges of rape and labor trafficking have been filed against a Jonesboro Arkansas Restaurant owner, Hexin Chen, 45. Chen was first accused of raping a woman who lived with him and who worked at the Kirin Restaurant. Investigators learned that a man also lived with Chen and that they were being paid “slave wages.” All three individuals, Chen, and the two victims entered the country legally. Chen is from China and the alleged victims are from Indonesia.

California

Feb. 28, 2018: Quinton Brown and Gerald Turner were sentenced on multiple human trafficking charges in Tulare under the terms of a plea agreement. They trafficked multiple victims, including eight minors throughout the Central Valley, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles. Brown was sentenced to 28 years and Turner was sentenced to 11 years. A third defendant failed to appear and a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Feb. 24, 2018: In Stockton, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s department teamed up with other law enforcement agencies to conduct a human trafficking sting. Twenty-one individuals were arrested on various charges and a woman and her infant child were rescued.

Feb. 17, 2018: A six-month investigation in south Lake County focusing on sex trafficking has led to the arrest of two Clearlake men, Timothy Lee, Williams, 52, and Nichola Troy Brooks, 38. Williams was arrested after an undercover sting operation revealed that a woman advertised on an internet site was driven to a “date” by Williams. An investigation revealed that Brooks and Williams allegedly forced five women, including a developmentally disabled young adult, into prostitution

Feb. 15, 2018: Salinas police reported that they arrested four men in connection with a human trafficking ring that operated in Monterey County. Daniel Amara, 20, and Abriam Ibarra, 24, are alleged to have forced more than eight youths into prostitution online and in the streets. Two more men were arrested on suspicion of having sex with minors in connection to the investigation.

Feb. 8, 2018: In Monterey, convicted sex trafficker Jerry Stringer was sentenced to nearly 15 and one-half years in prison, but, under the “three strikes” law, a prior conviction made him eligible for the doubling of his sentence.

Feb. 6, 2018: Rohnert Park police arrested David Scott Romesburg III, 38, and his mother Fay Ruth Romesburg, 59, and charged them with pimping about 150 women over a ten-year period. The police received a tip from a property manager in late 2017 that a brothel was set up in an apartment that was leased to the son. Another brothel was allegedly run out of the Romesburg’s home and still another in an apartment near the Santa Rosa Marketplace. Human trafficking and related charges have been brought against David and Fay has been charged with pimping and pandering.

Feb. 3, 2018: A man from Hisperia, Kristen Davis, 29, was found guilty by a San Bernardino jury of human trafficking to commit another crime, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, pandering by procuring a minor over the age of 16, pimping of a minor 16 years of age or older, and human trafficking of a minor for a sex act. Two co-defendants were involved in the activity. Ashley Wimbley, 26, whose trial will begin this month and Desire Jenkins, who was sentenced last year to five years in prison.

Feb. 1, 2018: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that DOJ special agents arrested a Sacramento woman for her alleged involvement in an international sex trafficking ring. Yun Escamilla, 58, is currently accused of procuring and pandering by housing five young female prostitutes in three Sacramento residences. The three victims were offered care and services.

Colorado

Feb. 17, 2018: Marc Myers has been arrested and is facing two class 3 felony charges involving pimping and human trafficking for sexual servitude in Ft. Collins. Myers has a long history of contact with police who suspected pimping and prostitution was occurring. He was finally arrested after Larimer County Sherriff’s deputies responded to information that escort activity was occurring at a hotel. Police found a source who told officials that she was frightened of Myers, that she had been prostituted by him at various hotels, and that there were others who had also been his victims.

Florida

Feb. 13, 2018: Christopher Thomas, who was found guilty in November of human trafficking in Palm Beach County, has been sentenced to ten years in prison.

Kentucky

Feb. 16, 2018: Nigel Karl Nicholas, 51, was arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking with one of the victims being under 18 and one count of promoting prostitution with two or more adult prostitutes. A Louisville woman, Abigail Varney, was also arrested and charged with two counts of human trafficking. The arrests occurred after Nicholas’ home was searched by agents from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and Louisville police.

Feb. 14, 2018: In Louisville, investigators from the Kentucky Attorney Office arrested Abigail Varney, 22, on charges of child pornography and human trafficking. She allegedly took and kept naked photos of a teenage girl in January and also posted photos of two teenage victims and advertised them for sexual services.

Feb. 11, 2018: Former state judge Tim Nolan, 71, pled guilty to 21 counts of sex trafficking and was sentenced to 20 years in state prison. Campbell County Judge Kathleen Lape also ordered Nolan to pay a $110,000 fine.

Feb. 6, 2018: As part of an undercover investigation by the Cyber Crimes Branch of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, an ad was posted on the internet advertising the “sale” of an 11-year old girl. A Kansas man, Ernest Merle Anziana, allegedly offered to buy the child with drugs and cash. He was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury on five counts of unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in illegal sexual activities.

Maine

Feb. 14, 2018: Tina Lagasse, 52, of Lewiston pled guilty to sex trafficking right before her trial was to start. She is expected to be sentenced to the Class D misdemeanor next month. The case stems from an internet advertisement noticed by an Auburn police detective last summer. The 17-year old pictured was a former Auburn high school student.

Maryland

Feb. 28, 2018: Howard County police arrested Jabari Theodore, 26, on human trafficking, prostitution, and concealing a dangerous weapon charges. An investigation revealed that he was allegedly forcing an 18-year old woman to engage in prostitution.

Feb. 26, 2018: An undercover operation by Anne Arundel County police has led to the arrest of Ondray Lamar Pleasant, 34, of Cheektowaga, New York, on human trafficking charges. Three women were found who alleged that Pleasant had been prostituting them.

Feb. 23, 2018: A Frederick County grand jury indicted a D.C. corrections officer on human trafficking charges. Luis Javier Privado is accused of driving a 16-year old girl to Frederick to work as a prostitute for him and for Abiathar Abraham Vance. Vance was arrested in December.

Feb. 22, 2018: Two Delaware men have been indicted in Baltimore on charges of sex trafficking of a child and sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. Harry E. Rivers, 28, and Steven Williams, 38, are accused of forcing women and girls, including a 15-year old, into prostitution in Baltimore.

Feb. 8, 2018: Two Baltimore men have been charged with sex trafficking three teenagers in Laurel. Police were called to a hotel after getting a complaint about drugs. When they arrived, they found three teenagers, 15, 16, and 17, who officers believed were being trafficked for prostitution. They identified two men, Sean Dean, 25, and Gerald Marshall, 28, who were allegedly involved. They have been arrested and are being held without bond.

Massachusetts

Feb. 26, 2018: Kevin C. Clark, 51, has been charged in Dudley District Court with trafficking a person for sexual servitude, deriving support from prostitution, and witness intimidation. He allegedly posted ads on Craigslist and told the victim that he would kill her if she ever got him in trouble for prostitution.

Feb. 20, 2018: A jury in Suffolk County convicted Marvin Pompilus, 33, for trafficking multiple women for sex in Greater Boston and on Cape Cod. The case was prosecuted by attorneys from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. He was sentenced to six and one-half years in state prison.

Feb. 7, 2018: The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office reported that Kendall Crawley, 46, of Florida was arrested and charged with trafficking of persons for sexual servitude and deriving support from prostitution.

Michigan

Feb. 28, 2018: In Ingham County Circuit Court, Amber Speed, 41, was sentenced to from five to twenty years in prison for running a criminal enterprise related to sex trafficking minors. She was found guilty by a jury in January.

Feb. 27, 2018: The Michigan Attorney General’s office has filed multiple felony counts against Kyren Faciane, 22, and Carlos Fox, 39, for their alleged human trafficking operation. Task force officers from the Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes task force conducted an undercover operation in Southfield where the victims were allegedly recruited, given highly addictive drugs, and then threatened with force to ensure they continued as prostitutes for the pair.

Feb. 15, 2018: Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced that three people have been charged with trafficking a 14-year old child from Detroit. Eric Alexander Brown, 33, Brian Deshawn Ash, 26, and Grace Nyirahabimana, 18, were arrested for allegedly trafficking the girl between January 16 and January 26.

Minnesota

Feb. 11, 2018: An undercover sex trafficking sting resulted in arrests over Super Bowl week. More than three dozen people are facing possible felony charges of attempting to solicit a child for sex or for trafficking victims. Fourteen women were rescued from sex trafficking situations.

Feb. 10, 2018: In Washington County, Hong Jing, 49, described as a ringleader of an international sex-trafficking ring that exploited women from China and Korea, was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison on her plea to human trafficking charges. Jing helped to traffic hundreds of women around the metro area as well as to more than 20 other states. In California, she used her profits from the illegal enterprise to purchase a $1 million dollar home.

Missouri

Feb. 11, 2018: Three massage parlors in Joplin are under investigation for possible human trafficking. Seven suspected victims, several of whom do not speak English, are receiving assistance. The investigation is ongoing and search warrants have been served.

Nebraska

Feb. 7, 2018: In Papillion, DeArch Stubblefield, 19, a former standout high school football player, was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for his role in a sex trafficking case. He pled guilty in October to attempted human trafficking, aiding and abetting child sexual assault, and child pornography possession. He was accused of having arranged for a man to have sex with a 15-year old.

Nevada

Feb. 7, 2018: Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced that Richard James Mapp, 36, pled guilty in Clark County to one count of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment, a category “B” felony, and one count of pandering, a category “C” felony. Mapp was a former football player at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Sentencing will be held in June. Mapp was originally charged with sex trafficking of a child under the 18 years of age and kidnapping as well as the crimes to which he pled guilty.

New Jersey

Feb. 27, 2018: Breion Turner, 28, pled guilty to a first-degree human trafficking charge for holding a 17-year-old against her will and forcing her to prostitute herself. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April. This is the first human trafficking conviction for the Mercer prosecutor’s office.

Feb. 19, 2018: Gabriella Colon, 18, and Richard Ortiz, 23, both of the Bronx, have been arrested in Ft. Lee and charged with 11 criminal counts including human trafficking of a minor. A rabbi, Aryeh Goodman, 35, was also arrested and is facing charges of engaging in sexual relations with the minor.

Feb. 12, 2018: A man accused of assisting in luring a 17-year old girl to a motel for a babysitting job and then prostituting her for ten days pled guilty to human trafficking charges. Christopher White, 20, admitted that he and his then girlfriend, Adria Reign, lured the teen to a motel room in the fall of 2016 on the pretext of having her babysit Regn’s two young children. Instead, they gave her methamphetamine, forced her to have sex with several men, and threatened to beat her if she tried to leave.

New Mexico

Feb. 17, 2018: A Bernillo County Sheriff spokeswoman announced that six people have been charged with running a New Mexico-based sex trafficking operation. An investigation began after officials learned that a 16-year old girl was being sold online in Phoenix. Investigators now believe that three Albuquerque juveniles were forced into prostitution between February 2017 and January of his year. Five of those charged have been arrested: Camara Cherry-Amos, Jason Jackson, Andrew Wyatt, Destiny Way, and Chante Bickham. An arrest warrant is outstanding for John Dompierre.

New York

Feb. 9, 2018: Jeremy Davis, 24, pled guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual acts relating to sex trafficking that occurred in 2017 in Dutchess County.

North Carolina

Feb. 6, 2018: High Point police responding to a call about a suspicious car in a local neighborhood found a 19-year old girl in a townhome. They saw activity connected to human trafficking and arrested three men. Michael Blaze Craddock, 22, was charged with felony human trafficking. Tommy Lee Woods, 52, was charged with misdemeanor soliciting for prostitution, and Scott Dorner, 61, was charged with misdemeanor soliciting for prostitution. The townhome is evidently owned by Dorner.

Oregon

Feb. 22, 2018: Beaverton police met with a 17-year old and discovered that Mario Hoggart, from Portland, was instrumental in her involvement in prostitution. He has been indicted on charges of compelling prostitution by a Washington County Circuit Court grand jury.

Texas

Feb. 22, 2018: The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office began an undercover investigation where detectives posed as sex buyers. As a result of that investigation, two individuals, Andrea Shorter, 29, and Haquikah Kerr, 39, have each been charged with one count of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of endangering a child. Kerr arranged to provide the undercover detective with three women to have sex with money. A three-year-old boy was in the car with the women when they came to meet the undercover.

Feb. 22, 2018: Austin police, responding to a call identifying the possible location of a teen who was a runaway, found another girl at the apartment who told police that she was with a person who she knew as “Nephew” who had taken pictures of both girls and advertised them on a website. Investigators found the advertisement and called the number to set up a “date.” When they arrived, they saw Keron Woods-Henderson, 23, leaving the hotel room. After entering the hotel room, they found evidence of commercial sex, including a journal that seemed to keep track of money owed for the sexual transaction. Woods-Henderson was arrested and charged with minor sex trafficking.

Feb. 21, 2018: Waco police have arrested Chunyong Zhang, 48, the owner of a local massage parlor. According to the arrest affidavit, Zhang picked up the victim, who was hired to work at the parlor, in January at the Austin airport. She refused Zhang’s instruction to sexually touch clients so her pay had been withheld. Zhang allegedly housed all of the women employed at the massage parlor.

Utah

Feb. 23, 2018: Jerome McFadden, a resident of Las Vegas, was arrested in St. George on charges that he recruited a woman into prostitution by fraud and coercion.

Virginia

Feb. 19, 2018: An undercover investigation by agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Homeland Security has led to the arrest of Paul Goldberry, 83. He allegedly answered an advertisement posted on Craigslist referencing a man trying to sell his 11-year old daughter for sex on a military base. His trial is set for June in Prince William County.

Wisconsin

Feb. 9, 2018: Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that his Division of Criminal Investigation Human Trafficking Bureau agents and local law enforcement arrested five individual in a sting to arrest sex traffickers and child abusers in St. Croix County. Two victims were recovered.

Wyoming

Feb. 23, 2018: The Evanston Police Department arrested Joseph Moore who is accused of child sex trafficking and human trafficking for the purpose of forced sexual exploitation on a warrant issued by Utah officials.

Other Items of Interest

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the implementation of AB 1227, which required California to include human trafficking prevention education as part of the sex education curriculum. The training will occur once in middle school and once in high school.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill spoke at the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Summit. He was part of a panel discussion which also included Hillary Axam, DOJ, Erin Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Staca Shehan, from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that his office is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to bring its Busing on the Lookout training to Wisconsin bus companies.

Polaris has issued a detailed report on trafficking within the massage parlor industry. Polaris estimates that there are 9,000 illicit massage parlors (IMPs) operating, one-third of these in California. The report includes indicators of IMPS and suggestions to law enforcement, control techniques used by the traffickers, and suggested regulatory and statutory measures that can be taken.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has begun a program to train employees of alcohol distributors to identify warning signs of human trafficking and report those signs, anonymously, to the TABC who can then launch an investigation.

Project Intercept, a chatbot, built by Microsoft employees in their spare time, lurks behind fake online ads for sex posted by organizations working to combat human trafficking. The bots respond to text messages sent to a number listed and pretends to be the person in the ad, conversing about age, pricing, and services desired. Once a buyer signals an intent to purchase sex, the bot posts this warning “buying sex from anyone is illegal and can cause serious long term harm to the victim, as well as further the cycle of human trafficking” and continues that there may be a visit by law enforcement.

The National Association of School Nurses has published a position brief stating that the registered professional school nurse should be knowledgeable about the scope of human trafficking and be able to recognize the signs that a student has been exposed to a trafficker, may being groomed by a trafficker, or is a victim of human trafficking.

A new report details the extent of sex trafficking in the greater Milwaukee area. Fifty-nine percent of the individuals reported as victims were reported missing at least once. Of those, half were reported missing from out of group homes and foster care.

Airbnb announced it would invest in new technology to address concerns that traffickers are turning its properties into “pop-up brothels.”

The February 2018 issue of the Journal of Family Violenceincludes an article that describes a pilot study analyzing familial sex trafficking. It found high rates of family members trafficking children for illegal drugs and reported that more than half of the children in the sample study had attempted suicide.

There have been earlier news reports about how some have subverted law enforcement’s focus on assisting the victims of human trafficking by falsely claiming to be a victim to obtain services. Here is one such account.

The United Kingdom held a conference on human trafficking for terrorist activities. Initial research indicates that there is an increasing phenomenon of deceptive and forced recruitment of adults and children for terrorism-related exploitative practices.


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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