The war against sex trafficking is going high tech and the Tampa based U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking in Tampa has picked social media as its weapon of choice when it comes to deterring sex buyers. Natalie Kehn, who works on outreach for the group, said the nonprofit combs through thousands of online sex ads and messages potential trafficking victims.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) branches in Tampa and Atlanta launched human trafficking awareness outreach campaigns in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Girls can be as young as 12 when their “boyfriends” lure them into a life of sex trafficking. Traffickers ply their victims with drugs to encourage addiction, rendering them dependent, compliant and numbed. They force their victims to sell themselves many times a day. And victims’ troubles do not end there.
“There’s not much of it that goes on that doesn’t involve a hotel at one point or another,” said Jensen. “I mentioned that I had only had a couple experiences with this in my 45 years of managing hotels, but that could be because I was naive.”
“Most people think of it as an overseas problem. But the reality is we have a major, major issue here in America inside of our own borders – with our own kids,” Florida based film’s executive producer, Geoffrey Rogers, told Crosswalk. “We would estimate over 100,000 kids in America are being trafficked for sex every single day here in our own country.”
“It’s like branding cattle,” said Cpl. Alan Wilkett, who leads Pasco County, Florida’s human trafficking task force. “It’s an ownership mark. Branding is when somebody — a pimp or a trafficker — will put his mark or his symbol or his sign on his victims through some sort of tattoo.”
“This issue does really impact our communities and it’s exciting that our awareness is growing,” Petzold said. “This is a complex issue, and it is the beginning of a process. I arrived at this issue by working at Polaris in Washington, D.C., which is an anti-trafficking organization and then I worked at the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”
The city’s authorities are training hotel workers, security guards, Uber drivers and truckers to spot the signs that a person might be a victim of trafficking, since these are the people most likely to cross paths with them and have a chance to alert police.
In 2018 in Minnesota, the National Human Trafficking Hotline was contacted 314 times and 120 human trafficking cases were reported, according to the hotline website. Anderson said Elk River’s proximity to the highways makes it likely that there is trafficking activity in and around the city.
Last year South Carolina was recognized as the most improved state combating human trafficking by Shared Hope International. Shared Hope International releases a report card each year regarding the status of each state.
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and O’Malley said the “Take the Pledge” campaign is a good way to start the new decade with action aimed at stopping both commercial sexual exploitation and commercial labor exploitation.
The sad truth is, many of those teenagers in the U.S., both boys and girls, who are walking the big city streets were, not too long ago, small town daughters and sons loved by their families, their schools and their communities, but caught in a confused time, rebellious.
In order to be designated as such a zone, there are three steps the city must take: passing a proclamation declaring the city to be a Human TraffickingFree Zone, undergoing training for city personnel, in particular first responders, as well as businesses in the city, and lastly, a zero tolerance policy for city employees caught purchasing sex at work. The program is managed at the local level by the project, but is an initiative of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
Houston, TX. lawyer Annie McAdams is part of team of attorneys that sued three major hotel chains this month on behalf of three sex trafficking victims in Houston. Prosecutors say one of the victims was 15 at the time a pimp drugged her and kept her working for a week at a Comfort Inn near the Southwest Freeway.
The man who was originally charged in the case, 36-year-old Rusty D. Reuille of Michigan City, fatally shot himself as La Porte County Police attempted to arrest him just days after Cannon’s arrest, authorities said at the time
In 2012, she announced an aggressive initiative to make Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking and modern-day slavery. From there, she forged partnerships with private businesses, community organizations and the Florida Legislature to raise awareness, teach how to spot the signs of human trafficking and pass legislation to strengthen laws.
“K.B.’s trafficker would give her to other traffickers who bought, sold and required her to sexually service paying strangers as she endured brutal physical assaults, psychological torment, verbal abuse, and false imprisonment at the defendant’s hotels as the defendants did nothing but profit from her exploitation,” the suit alleges.
15-year-old Olivia Durphy of Winchester, KY. said “I’m so blessed I don’t need anything and there are so many people, brothers and sisters of mine through Christ, who need stuff so much more than me,”. This year, she asked her mom to take the money she would use to buy her gifts and give it all to ‘Buy a tree, this year, a non-profit helping children around the world, through an annual Christmas tree sale.
Stockton, which has become known as a hub for human trafficking in recent years, will be getting more than half a million dollars from a federal grant to help human trafficking survivors in the area find a safe haven.
“This happens to men too,” she said. “I’m working with a man who was taken to Texas. He was held in a pen and had to sleep near the animals. He was fed about every three days. He finally made it back home to his family. Now he’s getting the help he needs.”
The presentation will provide a basic understanding of human trafficking and how to identify a trafficking victim. The presenter, FBI Agent Carrie Landau, will discuss the psychology behind human trafficking, how traffickers gain and maintain their control and trends in recruiting.
The Convergence Resource Center, a faith-based nonprofit organization, offers support to men and women who have experience trauma. The goal is to help them rebuild their lives and there’s a specific focus on helping women and female survivors of human trafficking.
On Friday, Detroit, MI. police announced 31 felonies and 72 misdemeanors have been handed down from phase two of the operation. The 46 people taken into custody range in age from 25 to 60 years old, Dwyer said. He also said the prostitutes range in age from 18 to 60 years old.
Lawyers in Columbus, OH. representing human trafficking victims want a single federal judge to oversee multiple lawsuits alleging that major hotel chains have ignored human trafficking taking place on their premises.
With Superbowl LIV less than 2 months away, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced today in West Palm Beach that Florida will not tolerate human trafficking and she’s asking for the public’s assistance in identifying it.
The girl was rescued from a hotel by detectives with the Phoenix, AZ. Police Department’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (H.E.A.T). She told authorities that Hood had been trafficking her for months.
The goal of the operation, Polk County, FL. Sheriff Grady Judd said, was to “identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online.”
According to the U.S Institute Against Human Trafficking, “The (TFZ) Trafficking Free Zone program is a community-based initiative to reduce the number of buyers, whose continuous financial investments create an illicit market for traffickers to exploit young victims in Alabama.
The six-day sting targeted prostitution, human trafficking and child predators – busting 124 people. The charges included: solicitation, using a computer to lure a child and traveling to meet a minor for sex. , Sheriff Judd of Polk County, FL. explained counselors were immediately available for those who appeared to be human trafficking victims.
The Trafficking Free Zone is a nation-wide program of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking and local anti-trafficking coalition, the Child Trafficking Solutions Project, an initiative of Alabama’s Children’s Policy Council and the Jefferson Family Court.
undercover investigators in Eads identified 27-year-old Luis Hernandez of Fountain, CO. Hernandez was arrested and taken to the Bent County Detention Facility, where he is being held without bond. He faces charges of Human trafficking – Sexual Servitude, Felony Eluding, and Reckless Driving.
She believes that parents need to be direct in addressing these issues so that children are not oblivious to what is going on around them. Having a daughter of her own, Jacquelyn Grant encourages parents to have open and honest conversations with their child because kidnapping and trafficking are, unfortunately, a harsh reality.
Weeks after a human trafficking sting netted more than 100 arrests in Hillsborough County, FL. commissioners took a step Wednesday to eradicate forced labor, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation within its borders.
“As I kept hearing the stories—after they have been gone for days—it started adding up like this was a plot,” said Ms. Cleveland, who runs a group called It’s On Me 2. “Someone knew what they were doing in order to get these girls.”
Alabama recently received an A on its “report card” from Shared Hope International (SHI) for the state’s positive response to the issue of human sex trafficking. Its overall score landed Alabama at the sixth position in the country; neighboring Tennessee took the top spot.
Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and it’s happening across the U.S., including in Maryland. Baltimore is considered a hub as it’s along the I-95 corridor which is used by traffickers to move victims across state lines easily
A 17-year-old girl walked into the lobby of a Ventura, CA, hotel and told the front desk manager she was being held against her will by a man and a woman, Elijah Tucker, 22, and Davisha Sweat, 25, and forced into prostitution.
A former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer Kirk Hooten, 51, told detectives he used to work for vice and that he still “cat-called” women in the area to see their reactions. He said he regularly visited the intersection to hire sex workers.
Jaimian Sims, 27, of Houston, TX, trafficked multiple victims. Sims is a member of a rap group and in videos he rapped that he sells “white women” and bragged about his success as a “pimp,” prosecutors said.
At Monday night’s council meeting in Vestavia Hills, AL, Mayor Ashley Curry signed a proclamation – an initiative of U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking that will require all city staff to be trained on how to spot sex trafficking.
In its 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the US State Department said that despite its global reach, human trafficking takes place locally — “in a favorite nail salon or restaurant; in a neighborhood home or popular hotel; on a city street or rural farm” But four recent high profiles cases of human trafficking and commercialized sex have laid bare the growing problem in big cities and far corners of the US.
Michael Thomas Bovino, 38, of Mooresville, NC, and nine others were arrested in an online child exploitation investigation involving 13 state and federal law enforcement agencies across North and South Carolina.
One of the victims told investigators with the Central Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force that she was being sold for sex by 39-year-old Joseph Troy Horton. She also stated he was selling a second woman for sex too.
The ringleader of the group, Samuel Lee Edwards, 49, of Columbus, OH, and his associates would use narcotics to manipulate and control their victims, who were threatened and assaulted if they did not comply with demands. The associates assisted with transporting, recruiting and supervising the women, as well as drug trafficking.
A grant to the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will fund a multidisciplinary task force composed of law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and several victim service organizations. Funds will also support direct victim services provided under the auspices of the Georgia Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking.
Guy Fletcher, 35, of Bristol, CT, has been charged with human trafficking and promoting prostitution after a woman accused him of acting as her pimp and withholding money and property from her to keep her in his control.
Marquez Thomas, 20, of Sacramento, CA, sexually exploited two 17-year-old high school girls and acted as the girls’ pimp and arranged commercial sex work for them in hotels in San Francisco, Daly City, Napa County and Reno, NV, prosecutors said.
A multi-agency, multi-day operation has led to the arrests of 16 dangerous sexual predators who had targeted children in Yakima County, WA. “The crimes these individuals were seeking to engage in are completely reprehensible,” said Eben Roberts, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle.
Radisson Hotel Group announced a partnership with ECPAT-USA, a policy organization seeking to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and has become the latest hospitality company to sign the organization’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, joining several hotel, airline and travel management companies.
Hillsborough County deputies recently arrested more than 100 people in connection with a five-month-long undercover investigation surrounding human trafficking. 8 On Your Side is now digging deeper into this growing problem in Florida.
Sheriff Chad Chronister, with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in FL, said among the most disturbing arrests involved Jason Fitzgerald, 36, and Luis Colon, 29. An undercover detective posed as a stepfather with a 14-year-old girl, and arranged a time for the two men to perform sex acts on the fictitious child. The sheriff said the acts they requested to do are “so repulsive, that I won’t even begin to describe them.”
Andrew Frey, 54, of Coram on Long Island, NY, attempted to abduct sex workers on two separate occasions with the intent of forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts. Authorities says Frey has a history of violence against sex workers and poses a danger to the community.
Two South Jersey men, Barry “Bear” Schiff, 52, of Galloway, and Kenneth J. Crowell, 35, of Blackwood, ran an organized sex trafficking ring stretching into Pennsylvania, coercing and forcing six young women into sex work and collecting the profits. One victim told police that Schiff threatened to “chop her up into little pieces and throw her in the river” when she said she didn’t want to work for him anymore.
Selah Freedom, a Florida-based charity organization with a mission to end sex trafficking, recently opened its newest, and largest, safe house at an undisclosed Kenosha County, WI location. It will offer a safe residential program for those rescued from sex trafficking, educational planning, job placement, trauma therapy, life skills, and medical assistance.
A bill that would decriminalize the selling and buying of sex in the nation’s capital will NOT move forward this year, lawmakers said, after an emotional hearing and thousands of emails revealed deep divisions among D.C. residents. Similar proposals in New York and Massachusetts, among other states, have also failed to gain ground.
Taniece Temple appeared on the show Wednesday for her first on-camera interview since her abuser was sentenced. Temple was only 13 years old when her Toledo, OH pastor, Anthony Haynes, started sexually abusing her and forcing her to have sex with anyone he chose.
Edward Earl Daniels of Oxford, MS, was found with a minor in his vehicle during his arrest on a traffic violation. Police and FBI agents investigated and determined Daniels operated a prostitution ring with the minor and other victims.
South Florida man, William Foster, 48, formed a fake nonprofit called “Foster’s Care.” Its sophisticated website claimed it provided free service to victims of human trafficking. Foster targeted young women in group homes, shelters, or those working at strip clubs, particularly low-end ones, where the teens were likely to have violent pimps they wanted to escape.
Zerrell Fuentes, 25, of Charlotte, NC, made a series of phone calls from inside jail to lay out a plan that had his wife, Brianna Wright, and mother, Tanya Fuentes, travel to Myrtle Beach, check into a hotel, then traffic three female minors as prostitutes in hopes to use the cash for Fuentes’s bail.
Posters offering victims of human trafficking a way out will soon be posted in 48 bathrooms in 17 rest areas along two major toll highway rest area bathrooms, New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, as part of a multi-agency initiative to help those being trafficked.
Sgt. Roger Thomas, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, got a “Back the Blue” award Wednesday from Attorney General Ashley Moody. Sgt. Thomas worked beyond his midnight shift to identify the 17-year-old and reunite her with family.
The campaign called “Can You See Me?” includes a series of billboards depicting scenarios of the most common forms of human trafficking in the U.S. They are displayed in public spaces and transportation hubs across Texas to equip the public to recognize indicators and report suspicious behavior to dedicated hotline numbers.
The program is called “My Life My Choice” and is based out of Boston, MA. Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, located in IL, prevention program includes connecting young girls and women with survivors to help them better understand what do to if they are confronted with a sex trafficking situation.
Darrell Hampton, 30, of Memphis, TN, fired shots at the 17 and 18-year-old victims, told them they were not free to leave, told them he would take them to Atlanta to work and even told the 18-year-old he would kill her grandmother if she didn’t cooperate.
Emmanuel Fleming, 20, of Marietta, GA, posted sex ads featuring the 16-year-old girl on an adult escort website. The victim confirmed to police that she and Fleming “did prostitution all summer” at the motel. The victim also stated that she was doing it to help Fleming because he was homeless.
Reflection Ministries of Texas is set to open “The Village” – a set of homes that will house victims of human trafficking – at the beginning of next year. Lisa Bownds, founder of Reflection Ministries, said they have several acres of land with five cottages. Four of the cottages will be used for housing and the last cottage will be a multi-purpose building used for counseling, therapeutic services and training classes.
Cindy Malott, Director of Advocacy Services for Crisis Aid International, works with survivors of sex trafficking. She said social media is now the “most common way” she sees traffickers are making initial contact with victims. “Every app you can imagine,” said Malott. “Even apps specifically focused for young children.”
After a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime to fight human trafficking, the International Rescue Committee will work with the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center on awareness and outreach, as well as offer trauma-informed services to trafficking survivors throughout Leon County, FL, and nearby rural communities.
The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday. The curriculum would be part of public schools’ health education and would focus on how to recognize and understand human trafficking.
Xuedan Ou, 34, of Tewksbury, MA, is charged with trafficking a person for sexual servitude, keeping a house of prostitution, and deriving support from prostitution. She ran a a prostitution business from her spa, TCM Therapy Center, located in Tewksbury.
Florida law that passed in 2013 allows victims of human trafficking to clear records of arrests that resulted, but process can be slow and complicated. The Justice Restoration Center in Dunedin, FL, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping trafficking victims erase criminal records. Executive director Brent Woody said Florida has the best such law in the nation, and his organization has worked with more than 200 victims.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida says its frequent prostitution stings help curtail human trafficking. But cases are complex and difficult to prove, so few arrests result in prosecutions on trafficking charges.
Simon Hessler, 47, of Ellington, CT, has been charged with four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and four counts of risk of injury to a child. Hessler was previously arrested last year after seeking out girls between the ages of 10 and 12 online with the intent to train a young girl in his “slave quarters” and have sex with the girl.
The Kalamazoo Planning Commission in Michigan approved a request for a single-family home in the Vine Neighborhood to house victims of human trafficking. The housing will be the only shelter of its kind in Southwest Michigan that allows men, women and children.
Ryan Russell Parks, also known as “Dinero,” 26, of Baltimore, MD, trafficked both a 15 and 16-year-old girl, prosecutors said. Parks used online ads with photos of the girls and descriptions of them for commercial sex acts.