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 2017

The following is a compendium of news reports over the last month that may be of interest to our AG offices that are dealing with state-focused human trafficking issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the position expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.

In the Courts

State

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown overruled defense dismissal motions in the Backpage.com case, allowing the California Attorney General’s office to continue its criminal prosecution against Carl Ferrer, James Larkin, and Michael Lacey on 25 felony counts.  The defendants are charged with money laundering and conspiracy, utilizing Backpage.com as a multi-million dollar online sex trafficking hub.

Last November, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sued the owner of the Motel 6 chain, alleging that the company and its managers allowed rampant drug, gang, prostitution, and human trafficking activity at its Sylmar property. The nuisance abatement suit alleges that there have been 10 arrests for prostitution, 22 drug related arrests, and 34 arrests for battery, burglary, and felony firearms possession at the motel.  Motel 6 has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle the lawsuit.  The money will be used to help deter human trafficking.

Legislation

Federal

A bipartisan bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 has been introduced in the Senate.  S. 1693, like HR 1865, introduced earlier, would make it clear that websites facilitating sex trafficking can be held accountable by victims and federal and state legal authorities.  Fifty attorney generals recently signed a letter to leaders in Congress to urge them to amend the law to ensure that the Communications Decency Act is not interpreted to forbid civil suits and state prosecution.  

The Corporate Transparency Act of 2017, S. 1717, has been introduced. The bill aims to help end the abuse of anonymous shell companies by criminals who use such entities to launder money, finance terrorism, promote sext trafficking, and evade taxes. S. 1717 directs the Treasury Department to issue regulations requiring those entities formed in the United States to declare the real, natural persons who control each company and benefit from it financially.

In the House, HR 3488, Reducing the Demand for Human Trafficking Act of 2017, has been introduced. It would amend the TVPA by requiring DOJ to provide affirmative preferences to funding applicants who attest that part of the grant funds will be used to strengthen efforts to reduce demand through investigation and prosecution of persons who solicit or purchase commercial sex.

State

The Maine legislature was unable to overturn the Governor’s veto of LD 512.  It would have prevented minors from being charged with the crime of engaging in prostitution.  The Governor’s veto message can be found here.

In New Jersey, AB 1199 has become law.  It would allow a witness of any age to testify by closed circuit television, under certain circumstances, in prosecutions for domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes, including sex trafficking.

SB 96, Human Trafficking Education in Schools, has been filed in the Florida Senate for consideration next legislative session. It would require health education in public schools to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking.

The Wisconsin Senate’s Judiciary Committee is considering SB 300 and SB 308.  SB 300 would create a crime for soliciting a sexually explicit photograph, recording, or other representation from a person who is under 18.  SB 308 would increase the penalty for the crime of patronizing a prostitute from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class I felony if the person has been previously convicted of that crime at least two times.

State Investigations/Arrests/Prosecution

Alabama

Aug. 29, 2017:  In the first indictments for human trafficking in Cullman County, Kenneth Loyd Woods, 49, was indicted on two counts of first-degree human trafficking by a grand jury.  Details of the alleged crime have not been released.  An investigation revealed that Woods, a possible sex offender, may have been distributing pills and alcohol to underage students at a county high school and demanding payment “other than a monetary value.”

Aug. 11, 2017:  An 85-year old man, Timothy Staggs, who has already been charged with human trafficking, was arrested on new trafficking charges in Florence. While he was out on bond, a woman told investigators that he approached her and asked her to find two young girls for him for sexual purposes.

Alaska

Aug. 17, 2017:  While Duane C. Perry was attending a pre-trial conference at the Anchorage Courthouse, in preparation to go to trial on a charge of Sexual Abuse of a Minor, he was arrested by state troopers on sex trafficking charges.  He later pled “not guilty” telephonically in Fairbanks Superior Court.  He is being held in Anchorage.

Arizona

Aug. 22, 2017:  Charles Ray’shon Buffington has been charged with four counts of sex trafficking, two counts of child prostitution, four counts of planning to receive earnings of prostitution, and one count of marijuana production.  Several victims are involved.  Trial has been set for mid-December in Yavapai County.

California

Aug. 27, 2017:  Chazz Andre Jackson, 29, of San Diego was found guilty in March on a multitude of felony charges including human trafficking, human trafficking of a minor, pimping, pandering, rape, and attempting to dissuade a witness from testifying.  As a three- time felon, he was sentenced to 99 years in prison.  The Orange County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

Aug. 25, 2017:  Following up on leads generated by an earlier arrest in Chino (see below) on the 18th, San Bernardino County sheriff’s investigators arrested Flabiano Ayala-Camerena, 24, in connection with a clandestine brothel operating out of a medical building.  Two victims were recovered.

Aug. 18, 2017:  Chino police arrested a suspected ringleader of a sex trafficking operation being run out of a medical warehouse, around the corner from the police department.  Investigators found advertisements on Backpage and began surveillance. The San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force saw a large number of men going in and out of the building. A search warrant was served and authorities found two potential victims. They arrested Luis Lopez, 39; the investigation is ongoing.

Aug. 16, 2017:  Four people were arrested in Upland on suspicion of human trafficking when Upland police and federal officials raided a massage parlor. Those arrested were Aura A. Renzu-Vasquez, 31; Ivette Serrano, 51; Maria Gonzalez, 39; and Esmaranda Miranda, 34.

Aug. 15, 2017:  In Orange County, Marcus Ramon Santos, 34, was sentenced to 28 years in state prison after he pled guilty to one felony count each of human trafficking of a minor, pimping a minor under 16 years old, pandering a minor under 16 years old, human trafficking, and two counts each of pimping and pandering. He also pled to a sentencing enhancement of having a prior conviction for aggravated assault.

Aug. 11, 2017:  In Tulare County, Bryan Walker, 21, was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for sex trafficking a 17-year old girl. He was one of seven defendants who were charged with offenses related to a human trafficking ring that spanned across Tulare and Kings Counties. Walker pled no contest to five felony counts of human trafficking of a minor and one count of felony pimping of a minor and also admitted a special allegation that the trafficking was done to benefit a criminal street gang.

Florida

Aug. 26, 2017:  A 16-year old who ran away from a foster care facility has told investigators that she was forced into prostitution by people with whom she was staying.  Miami-Dade officers arrested Michael Coney, 18, and Landis Wordly, 39, and charged both with human trafficking.  Police also arrested Jerrini Virgin, 24, on one count of human trafficking and one count of battery after the victim claims Virgin beat her on several occasions.

Aug. 21, 2017:  Human trafficking charges are pending in Tallahassee against Paul Edward Cooper, 30, who was arrested on charges of battery and sexual battery after a woman, who described herself as his girlfriend, told police that he prostituted her.  According to the alleged victim, Cooper became increasingly violent as she travelled with Cooper throughout cities in Florida and Alabama.  According to the victim’s statement, he threatened to kill her when she wanted to quit prostitution.

Aug. 12, 2017:  Miami Beach police have charged three women in a human trafficking investigation that led to the shutting down of four massage parlors. Two victims were rescued.

Aug. 9, 2017:   Darnell Walker, 33, was arrested and in Broward County jail until he can be transported to Lee County to face charges of sexual battery, human trafficking, kidnapping, and robbery. According to police, his accomplice, Laila Fouissi, 19, was the victim’s boss at a local Taco Bell.  Fouissi was arrested on June 2 and has pled not guilty to various charges including kidnapping and sexual assault. The victim confided in Fouissi that she was worried about money issues and that her work permit expired soon. Fouissi allegedly told her that she knew a man, Cesar, who could get her a job dancing at a strip club in Miami. When the teen refused to travel to Miami to meet Cesar (who was actually Walker), Fouissi came to her house and forced her into the car with Walker where she was sexually assaulted while being driven around and where Walker threatened her and her family with a gun. They also stole her debit card.  Images of Fouissi and Walker using the debit card at Wal-Mart led to Walker’s identification.

Illinois

Aug. 10, 2017:  Phillip Puccio, 29, was arrested during an undercover prostitution sting early this year in Schaumburg. He has now pled guilty to human trafficking and been sentenced to six years in prison. 

Kansas

Aug. 30, 2017:  Hope Joy Mae Zefferjohn, who recruited a 14-year old girl to engage in human trafficking while she, herself was a victim, was sentenced to 71 months in prison by a Shawnee County judge.  She had pled guilty earlier to the sex trafficking charge.  Another dozen felony and misdemeanor charges were dropped.  

Aug. 24, 2017:  An anonymous tip led Wichita police to an apartment complex where they found a 16-year old girl being held against her will and forced to perform sexual acts.  Christopher Reed, 31, has been charged with one count of aggravated human trafficking and one count of human trafficking.

Aug. 9, 2017:  Garden City police have arrested Joe Wimbley, 34, on suspicion of human trafficking. The police department received information of possible prostitution. An investigation led to discovering that a 31-year-old woman, whom Wimbley had physically harmed in the past,  was being forced to provide prostitution services.

Kentucky

Aug. 9, 2017:  Two Oak Grove residents, Kiersten Napodano and Michael Helton, pled guilty in Christian County to charges in connection with the trafficking of a woman at the Quality Inn in Oak Grove. They face similar charges in Montgomery County and in Tennessee.

Louisiana

Aug. 2, 2017:  Jefferson Parish authorities have updated their investigation into the sex trafficking of a teenaged girl. In April, authorities arrested Damien Holland of Chicago and booked him with trafficking and pandering after a 17-year old called 911 and asked for help. Law enforcement officials then identified other suspects in the case and the parish district attorney’s office filed an amended bill of indictment in early July charging Holland and three others with trafficking the girl:  Early Normand, 27, of Kenner; Kent Hurn, 30, of New Orleans, and Taylor Marie Rodrigue, 21, of Westwego.

Maryland

Aug. 11, 2017:  A Caroline County couple, Darlene Allen, 35, and Paul Owen, 26, have each pled guilty to human trafficking. Owen also pled guilty to third-degree sex offense. Riley was sentenced to 20 years in prison; Owen’s sentencing is scheduled on September 14. They admitted to injecting a 15-year old girl with heroin and forcing her to prostitute herself.

Aug. 2, 2017:  In Howard County, police have arrested Kamal Germaine Dorchy, 43, on multiple counts of human trafficking. The investigation was prompted from a theft report at a motel in Laurel. Responding officers found a victim of human trafficking along with evidence pointing to human trafficking and prostitution occurring. Dorchy was identified as a suspect and police found him with two additional adult victims and a minor inside a motel room in Prince George’s County. Authorities allege Dorchy would control the women as to when they could eat and sleep, assaulted them, threatened them with a gun, and gave them drugs.

Massachusetts

Aug. 28, 2017:  In Salem Superior Court, Lori Barron was sentenced for crimes committed in 2013 at a day spa for men she operated in Lawrence.  Barron was found guilty by a jury in June of human trafficking for sexual servitude and related charges.  She was sentenced to seven to nine years in prison and, after serving her time, will have to register as a sex offender.

Aug 8, 2017:  A woman already under a statewide indictment for allegedly running a network of brothels in the Boston area has been arraigned in Quincy District Court on charges of trafficking a person for sexual servitude and deriving support from prostitution.  Pingxia Fan, 40, was held on $500,000 bail and her bail on the other pending cases were also revoked. Fan was wearing a GPS monitor when State Police were alerted that the device was detected at the address of a hotel in Quincy. A manager at the hotel told investigators that she had rented a room with another woman and that she had done so several other times in the past. Police later stopped a man who eventually admitted he had spent time in Fan’s rented room after answering a Backpage advertisement.

Michigan

Aug. 23, 2017:  In Warren, police have charged Malik McCaster, 22, with sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud, or coercion, sexual exploitation of children, and production of child pornography.  A Sanilac County teen ran away from home and attended the Warren fireworks where she met McCaster through a friend.  He allegedly offered her a ride and then trapped her in the car, throwing her cell phone onto the freeway.  He allegedly held her at his home and filmed himself having sex with her.  He then posted the images on Craigslist and advertised her for sexual services.  The teen escaped when he took her to a motel in Redford to meet with clients.

Aug. 15, 2017Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the arrest of four individuals who have been charged with a number of crimes in connection with an opioid drug and human trafficking operation. Highlighting the connection between highly addictive drugs and sex trafficking, the arrests are a result of a coordinated effort between the AG’s newly formed opioid trafficking unit and its existing human trafficking unit, working in conjunction with the FBI Oakland County Gang and Violent Crimes task force. Melvin Niblett, 38, is alleged to be the top person involved in the operation. He has been charged with 24 felonies; Corey Cooper, 45, has been charged with two; Maurice Rushton, 57, is charged with 5; and Jamin McGinnis, 27, is charged with seven. 

Minnesota

Aug. 26, 2017:  Four St. Cloud individuals have been charged with human trafficking involving a 17-year old girl.  Alan Danny Woods, 24, was charged with one count of engaging in sex trafficking with a juvenile and Ashley Ann Pick-Gassama, 26, Jaemie Rae Drum 22, and Deandre Lamond Jones, 22, were charged with aiding and abetting the promotion of prostitution of an individual under 18.  The child was arrested by authorities in Fargo, North Dakota, where she told authorities she was being trafficked there and in St. Cloud at an apartment leased by Woods.

Aug. 25, 2017:  Dongzhou Jiang, 28, entered a guilty plea for racketeering and conspiracy to trafficking in Washington County.  Jiang told the court he answered to two “boss ladies” who directed him to make travel arrangements for Chinese women whom he would pick up from the airport and transport to hotels and other locations in Washington and Ramsey Counties.  Jiang also admitted he was responsible for collecting and depositing money into bank accounts, picking up supplies, and arranging property rentals.  The women would stay for 15 days to a month before relocating to one of the 29 states where the organization allegedly operates.

Aug. 17, 2017:  Minneapolis police received a tip about a possible juvenile female placed on a Backpage.com advertisement. Further investigation and a search warrant at the apartment where the encounter was supposed to take place led to the arrest of Lee Edward Smith, Jr., who has been charged with two counts of engaging in sex trafficking.  One of the women was allegedly being given crack and another, possibly a vulnerable adult, said she was scared of Smith, wanted to leave, but he threatened her.

Aug. 11, 2017:  Fangyao Wu, 23, of Irvine, California, pled guilty in Washington County District Court to one felony count of racketeering. She is one of four people accused of operating a multistate sex-trafficking ring that preyed on foreign-born women to work as prostitutes in Minnesota and elsewhere. She is expected to receive a stayed jail sentence in exchange for her cooperation with authorities on the cases pending against the three other individuals. She also agreed to forfeit more than $700,000, proceeds from the sex trafficking scheme.

Aug. 11, 2017:  A Washington County District judge has sentenced Lili Huang, 37, to one year in prison before her deportation back to China. She was charged with labor trafficking and associated counts for holding her maid captive and routinely subjecting her to violent abuse. The state dropped all charges except the third-degree assault as part of a federal plea agreement in which Huang confirmed the woman’s claim of abuse. Huang will serve her federal one-year sentence concurrently with her state sentence.  The federal sentence also requires her to forfeit her home and pay nearly $100,000 in restitution.

Aug. 10, 2017:  A Mahtomedi man, Shaun Michael Maubach, 32, has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking his former girlfriend for sex. After he was arrested, he called the women he is accused of victimizing and pleaded with her to defend him against the allegations. Authorities found out about the alleged trafficking when they were investigating his involvement in the sex trafficking of a 27-year-old woman in Washington County.  Maubach faces two felony counts in that case; it is set for trial in late October. Maubach also has felony warrants for his arrest from Kansas and Washington.

Aug. 4, 2017:  Pisanu Sukhtipyaroge, 71, of Maplewood, has been accused in a criminal complaint of forced labor involving a man whom Sukhtipyaroge brought to Minnesota from the Dominican Republic on a student visa. After attending school for only a short time, he was forced by Sukhtipyaroge to live and work at his restaurant in a debt bondage arrangement and threatened to have him deported if he didn’t engage with sex with him.  After Sukhtipyaroge’s arrest, another man came forward and told authorities that, thirteen years ago, Syukhtipyaroge brought him to the U.S. from Thailand when he was 18. He worked for him for eight months and finally walked away, finding help from another restaurant owner.  Federal authorities have also charged Sukhtipyaroge in St. Paul with forced labor, which ensures he will be held in jail even if he makes bail on the state charges.  Later this month, a federal grand jury indicted Sukhtipyaroge on one count of forced labor.

Nevada

Aug. 22, 2017:  Xerxes Paul, 20, was arrested by Las Vegas police for child sex trafficking, first-degree kidnapping, child, abuse, and accepting or receiving the earnings of a prostitute.  The alleged victim is 16.

New Hampshire

Aug. 1, 2017:  Lebanon police officers arrested Richard Byrne, 58, when he showed up at an apartment complex, expecting to have a sexual encounter with a 15-year old girl. He had engaged in conversations with an undercover officer posing as a teenager. 

New Jersey

Aug. 23, 2017:  A Union County man, Torrie Fogg, 41, is facing multiple charges, including human trafficking, after he allegedly held a female against her will and forced her to prostitute herself.  Hanover Township police responding to a dispute at a local hotel encountered a 31-year old female who told them she was being held against her will.

Aug. 15, 2017:  Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Burlington County couple was indicted on charges including first-degree human trafficking of a minor.  The pair, Christopher White and Adria Regn, allegedly forced a 17-year old girl to prostitute herself and gave her drugs. The victim, who knew White, went to a motel to supposedly babysit Regn’s children. There, she was told she was going to work as an “escort” for them and was allegedly forced to take crystal meth.

New York

Aug. 3, 2017:  Charges have been filed against Jonathan “Jayo” Harris, 25, and Tariq “Ricky” Washington 23, on nearly 40 counts of sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, rape, assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. The charges stem from an investigation of a sex trafficking operation that ran between March 2015 and December 2016 in which nine young women, most between the ages of 15 and 16, were forced into prostitution, according to a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

North Carolina

Aug. 26, 2017:  Gastonia police arrested Jotavious Marquis Bell, 22.  He is charged with one count of human trafficking of an adult victim, first-degree kidnapping, and possession of a firearm by a felon. 

Ohio

Aug. 6, 2017:  A Cuyahoga County jury convicted a man already in prison for child rape and an Ohio woman on dozens of counts related to the sex trafficking of children as young as 9.  Andre Boynton, 42, from prison ordered Anika George, 39, to abduct boys from Cleveland, bring them back to her apartment, and use a cellphone to record her having sex with them.  She also recorded boys having sex with a 14-year old developmentally disabled girl. Both Boynton and George were also convicted of voyeurism charges related to George photographing 11 disabled elderly people in various stages of undress at a nursing home where she worked. The pair were sentenced to life in prison.

Oklahoma

Aug. 25, 2017:  Oklahoma City police arrested Ryan Wright, 29, and Amber Clement, 31, on human trafficking complaints.  The arrests were made as a result of an undercover investigation involving police responding to an ad posted on the Internet.

Aug. 8, 2017:  Willie Charles Whitman, 44, was arrested in Tulsa on accusations that he ran a human trafficking scheme out of his Reiki business. Five women worked for him at that location; investigators believe he had been physically threatening some of his employees to force them to offer sex acts to clients. Whitman is also accused of using surveillance equipment to spot undercover police.

Oregon

August 2, 2017:  Beaverton police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a 17-year old girl was in the Portland area and involved in prostitution. The tip included an escort ad from Backpage.com and investigators found other online ads linked to the teen and a woman identified as Shanell Rix, 21. An undercover detective made arrangements to meet two girls at an apartment complex and, when he arrived, recognized the 17-year old. Rix was at the apartment as well and allowed police to search her unit where investigators found several cellphones and wrapped and used condoms. Rix was arrested on suspicion of compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, and attempted to use a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

Pennsylvania

Aug. 11, 2017:  Earlier this year, Pennsylvania authorities charged six individuals with sexually abusing a boy at “furry” parties. One of those individuals, David Parker, 38, has pled guilty in federal court in Scranton to child sex trafficking. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 30-year sentence. 

Aug. 9, 2017:  In Harrisburg, a third person has been arrested in connection with a human trafficking and retail theft ring evidently operating behind the guise of a bogus ministry for drug addicts. Johnnie J. Ferrell, 19, joins alleged co-conspirators Daerell Homes and Edward Edmonds who were arrest in late July.

South Carolina

Aug. 25, 2017:  A family from North Carolina found an ad on social media for their child.  Myrtle Beach police were able to locate the juvenile and return her to her family.  They arrested Kerry Andrell Lewis, 20, and Julius Larose Riley, 37, in connection with the case.

South Dakota

Aug. 23, 2017:  Sheilata Gordon, 40, entered a not guilty plea to a charge of trafficking an 18-year old in Pierre in July.  If found guilty, the charge would be enhanced to a top sentence of 50 years because Gordon was convicted of a felony drug crime in the Sioux City area in 2010. 

Aug. 16, 2017:  Nine men were arrested and charged on two felony charges, including attempted enticement of a minor using the Internet and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor at the Sturgis Rally.

Tennessee

Aug 16, 2017:  Eleven men were arrested in a Kingsport anti-trafficking operation.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation along with federal and state partners conducted an undercover sex sting to identify potential victims of trafficking and arrest those seeking to purchase sex from a juvenile.  Among those arrested were a youth leader, a coach, and a volunteer firefighter.

Texas

Aug. 18, 2017:  Dallas Lee Cluck, 53, who has been in jail in Waco since mid-January on unrelated charges, has now been arrested on a second-degree felony charge of trafficking in persons.  He is accused of forcing a woman, who was 16 years old at the time, to engage in sexual activities with Cluck’s alleged drug dealer.  Cluck had custody of the girl at the time.

Wisconsin

Aug. 25, 2017:  A traffic stop on I-90 near Rockland led to the arrest of William Gerrish, 56, on seven felonies, including child abduction, child trafficking, and child enticement. The 17-year old victim ran away from her foster home and sought help from Gerrish.  She alleged that he gave her marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, had sex with her on several occasions, and allowed a friend to have sex with her in return for Gerrish receiving drugs. They were on the way to Kenosha when the car in which they were riding was stopped.

Aug. 23, 2017:  A grand jury in Madison has indicted Harry Miller, 59, of Madison on two counts of sex trafficking.  According to the indictment, Miller trafficked two people:  one from March through April this year and the second from March through June.

Aug. 7, 2017:  An undercover investigation by Green Bay police has led to the arrest of Devon M. Alexander, 24, on accusations of human trafficking.  Investigators claim that he was forcing a 31-year old woman to prostitute herself.

Other Items of Interest

In a prosecution that illustrates the importance of close cooperation between local and state investigators and prosecutors and their federal counterparts, a Chicago father and his twin boys were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a sex trafficking scheme involving minor girls.  Nathan Nicholson groomed his sons, Tyrelle Lockett and Myrelle Lockett, to become pimps.  They recruited their victims from Chicago-area malls by promising them money for going on dates.  Later, they expanded their business by looking for victims outside the Chicago area, including in Indiana.  In one incident, the twins forcibly brought one woman from Minnesota to Nicholson’s home in Chicago, but she escaped and called police.  Nicholson was sentenced to 16 years, 8 months in prison and ordered to pay $68,400 to two victims.  Tyrelle was sentenced to 17 years, 8 months and ordered to pay $9,050 to three victims.  Myrelle received a similar prison term and was ordered to pay $75,600 to one victim.

The Navajo Nation passed a human trafficking law which amends the tribe’s criminal code.  The new law acknowledges the jurisdictional limitations on tribal land and calls on the Navajo Nation to cooperate “bilaterally and multilaterally” with other organizations to suppress the crime. The law adds a specific, sex-related crime to the criminal code and allows law enforcement officers to make arrests. Last month, the Government Accountability Office released a study that found federal law enforcement agencies may be underreporting cases of human trafficking of Native Americans. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the release of a new human trafficking training video to help better educate medical professional on how to identify victims of human trafficking.

Federal law enforcement officials, executing search and arrest warrants at multiple locations in Hayward, found a dozen immigrant workers who were subsequently connected to nonprofit service organizations for help.  The officials found that the workers were being held in squalid conditions without running water and forced to work on construction projects without pay.   

American Airlines has announced that it is working with ECPAT-YSA to train its 120,000 employees on identifying trafficking victims. Delta Airlines and Volaris have similar agreements. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Services has issued new guidelines to equip EMS providers with a step-by-step protocol on how to recognize victims of human trafficking.

In Australia, a new joint parliamentary inquiry report was released showing that, out of 600 or so alleged slavery and human trafficking cases recently investigated, only seven resulted in criminal convictions. The report urged the appointment of an anti-slavery and trafficking commissioner to implement a national plan and provide advice to local governments.

An interesting article in the Guardian revealed that athletes from African nations are being urged to change allegiances to oil-rich countries and many are being mistreated, denied prize money, and sometimes housed in filthy conditions.

A PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, working with researchers from New York University and the University of California-San Diego, has developed the first techniques to identify adult ads tied to human trafficking rings by linking ads to public information from Bitcoin.  The technology finds connections between ads on various websites.  A paper will be published on the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in its Conference Proceedings.  As part of the research, two free machine learning tools were developed.  The first is based on an in-depth analysis of linguistic style to identify authors of multiple texts.  The second, which can be used after the first algorithm has identified a single author behind multiple advertisements, traces a paid advertisement to a unique Bitcoin user’s account.

An Empirical Analysis of the Intersection of Organized Crime and Human Trafficking in the United States is available online. Vanessa Bouche, a researcher at Texas Christian University, analyzed federally-prosecuted human trafficking cases between 2000 and 2015 and found that 58% of the 2096 defendants operated as part of an organized criminal group.


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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