ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Twenty-two suspects were arrested after multiple law enforcement agencies in Tampa Bay teamed up to crack down on human trafficking.
Undercover detectives set up at an undisclosed motel and responded to online ads for commercial sex that had human trafficking indicators. When those responding to the ads showed up to the motel to engage in prostitution, they were screened to see if they were potential human trafficking victims.
Internet-savvy pimps are using social media to recruit young girls who have been left dislocated or economically vulnerable by the pandemic, according to a New York City detective.
Lt. Amy Caponga of the New York Police Department (NYPD) sex trafficking team says messaging apps are often used to control the girls’ movements once they’ve been trafficked and mobile payment services like Venmo exploited to get the money.
One impact of their broadening operations since the onset of COVID-19: some hotels and motels in the New York City area, once filled with tourists, have become sites for prostitution, Lt. Caponga told a recent webinar organized by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking actively engages federal, state, and local government officials who sit in a position to enact public policies to assist us in our fight to eradicate sex trafficking in the United States. USIAHT understands that the federal government plays a crucial role in combatting sex trafficking. A part of our mission is to educate and enlist Congress members in the fight.
The Bible says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) Without knowledge, we are powerless; but how can we obtain this knowledge?
This knowledge must be paired with action. All of us working toward eradicating sex trafficking demand more than rhetoric; we demand solutions. This standard inspired USIAHT to develop this inaugural Congressional Scorecard. The first system that rates members of the U.S. Congress on their commitment to enacting legislation to hold traffickers and sex buyers accountable, protect vulnerable populations, and meet survivors’ complex needs.
This grading system is designed to hold federal officeholders accountable for their attempts to improve or impede the federal response to combatting domestic human trafficking and educate the public on how federal elected officials perform in this fight.
We ask that you join us in this effort to hold elected officials accountable for their actions and share this Congressional Scorecard with coworkers, friends, and family.
SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) – An undercover investigation by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office busted a human trafficking operation on Oct. 15.
The sheriff’s office said numerous women were detained for further investigation, as well as offered victim services and evaluations at the Akron General Hospital SANE Unit.
Three of those women accepted the offer for victim services, according to the sheriff.
‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ is the popular saying. The phrase is thought to have originated in part from the legal brothels of Nevada, where men are assured of anonymity. These brothels have been considered a necessary service industry in the area since the 19th century, when Nevada was populated almost entirely by male gold prospectors. There are currently 21 legal brothels in operation across seven of Nevada’s counties, and I’ve visited seven — as a journalist, not as a sex buyer. What I saw and learned was horrible.
The CEO of a California-based food company has resigned after he was charged and arrested for engaging in sexual relations with two underage girls, prosecutors said.
Ian Charles Schenkel, of Newport Beach, has formally stepped down from his role as chief executive officer of Haliburton International Foods on Friday.
Schenkel, 59, founded Haliburton International Foods in 1992 and has overseen the company’s expansion for the nearly three decades. Schenkel’s resignation comes after he was accused of engaging in prostitution with a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl.
Amanda Emilia Perez, of Huntington Beach, was also charged with pimping and pandering for arranging to bring the underage girls to him for sex.
‘The exploitation of children for sex acts shocks the public conscience,’ said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
‘It is reprehensible and it is unlawful. We will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law and we will work to ensure the judicial system protects these vulnerable victims.’
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested more than two dozen unlicensed contractors throughout a 10-day sting. The undercover operation was conducted in Sun City Center, an area where many elderly residents often fall victim to cons and scams, including construction fraud. Among the 27 people arrested, was a high-risk sexual offender on felony probation and a man who showed up to work with cocaine in his possession.
HUDSON — Police say a downtown massage parlor was a front for a prostitution and human trafficking ring.
Hudson police, in a joint investigation with the FBI’s Boston Division’s Child Exploitation-Human Trafficking Task Force, arrested three people Thursday at the Anjun Spa, 157 Main St., after an investigation, Police Chief Richard DiPersio said.
“Our detectives do a great job of monitoring these type of cases,” he said. “We received several tips from the communities, and we began this investigation several weeks ago.”
The police and FBI task force worked with the state Division of Professional Licensure Investigations to identify businesses that exploit children or traffic in adults for sexual purposes.
“Operation Patriot,” a collaborative human trafficking sting operation between 23 agencies, has resulted in 46 arrests and the rescue of five victims.
The arrests took place in two missions over a four-day span in September.
The first sting took place in Missouri City when undercover officers identified and arrested suspected human traffickers and sex buyers, commonly called “johns,” the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s office said. Officers also identified and rescued multiple victims.
A US man convicted of running a sex trafficking ring out of his elderly parents’ sprawling suburban home was sentenced today to nine and a half years in prison.
Raymond Rodio III, 49, was arrested in April 2019 and pleaded guilty in February this year to charges including sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.
After he completes his prison sentence, The Long Island man must register as a sex offender and spend five years under court supervision.
“This defendant had a sex dungeon in his parents’ home and forced women into sex slavery,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said.
LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury today returned a superseding indictment that charges a San Gabriel Valley woman with sex trafficking five immigrant women by hiring them to work at massage parlors and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts.
Mei Xing, 59, a.k.a. “Xing Mei,” “Anna,” and “Boss,” of San Gabriel, is charged with five counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. Xing previously was indicted on June 12 on one count of sex trafficking, and today’s charging document adds four additional victims.
PALM DESERT – Thirteen suspects were arrested on prostitution charges during a 12-hour Solicitation of Prostitution operation in the city of Palm Desert. On 09/23/2020, members of the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) with the assistance of the Palm Desert Special Enforcement Team (SET) and Palm Desert Business District Team (BDT), conducted the sex trafficking demand reduction operation from 11 AM until 11 PM.
Washington, DC- Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-NY) released the following statements after introducing their bipartisan bill to renew authorization for the Public-Private Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking.
The council provides a direct line to federal government agencies that will streamline unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles by empowering nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations in the fight against human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a terrible scourge and we must all work together to defeat it,” said Curtis. “Last Congress, the President signed my bill into law creating the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking which brought the Federal government and prevention and rehabilitation experts together. Organizations like Utah’s Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) have led the way in fighting human trafficking and offer invaluable expertise to the Council. To ensure the critical work of this advisory council continues, I’ve introduced the Human Trafficking Council Extension Act to reauthorize the Council and give its members additional time to meet and recommend best practices to help put an end to human trafficking.”
ATLANTA — U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr says the federal government is awarding more than $100 million in grants to target human trafficking.
The money will go to task forces combating human trafficking, to victim services and victim housing.
Barr made the announcement Monday in Atlanta with presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
President Donald Trump’s administration in August awarded $35 million in Justice Department grants to organizations that provide safe housing for victims of human trafficking.
The Honorable William K. Sessions III sentenced Brian Folks, 45, to twenty-two years and six months in prison today, followed by ten years of supervision upon release. A federal jury in Burlington, Vermont, previously found Folks guilty of 13 federal felonies after a nearly three-week trial back in May 2019. Evidence presented at trial showed that Folks ran an extensive and violent sex and drug trafficking operation that sold heroin and cocaine base throughout the greater Burlington area and forced young, drug-addicted women to prostitute.
Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter and one of his top advisers, will pay a visit to Atlanta with U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday.
A White House official confirmed the visit to Channel 2′s Richard Elliot. The trip plans to highlight the Trump administration’s initiatives to protect survivors of human trafficking.
Trump and Barr will meet with Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia first lady Marty Kemp, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and state and federal law enforcement.
“The Trump administration continues to fight tirelessly to end the scourge of human trafficking in our communities. The leaders and community members we’re meeting with in Atlanta are on the front lines of this fight and are critical to our efforts to end this horrific crime,” Ivanka Trump said. “I look forward to learning more about the critical services they provide and announcing additional funding and resources from the Trump administration to assist in these efforts.”
DALLAS — Two Dallas men were arrested Sept. 9 after a grand jury indicted them on charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of children, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas.
A third man, accused of advertising sex with a minor online, is already in federal custody and faces the same charges.
Investigators rescued the girl after posing as a buyer responding to the online advertisement. The victim was “clearly a child under the age of 18 in both her physical appearance and mannerisms,” according to a search warrant application written by investigators.
Kention Obryan Johnson, 35, and Sergio Trinidad Carvajal, 30, visited the hotel room where the child was kept, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Two Prattville women were charged with human trafficking after they were allegedly caught encouraging other women to engage in sexual activity for money.
According to court records, a 21-year-old woman was arrested Saturday about 9:30 p.m. at a downtown Montgomery hotel after she enticed another woman to assist her in performing a sexual massage. The woman, unbeknownst to her, had coordinated a meeting with an undercover law enforcement officer by answering a message on a website, according to her arrest affidavit.
The U.S. Marshals Service recently launched a nationwide effort to recover missing and exploited children. Three major operations rescued over 100 children, many of them from sex traffickers. But a disturbing trend discovered during the operation should launch a nationwide investigation into the American child welfare system. PJ Media reached out to USMS for details on the rescued children and was told that the majority of them came from foster care. This information was ignored in the initial media reports on the operation. Dave Oney, press contact at the USMS, responded via email to questions about the rescued children.
Former detective Christopher Butts, along with five other men, were arrested following a months-long operative against child sex crimes.
PHOENIX — A former detective with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is accused of trying to entice a minor for sex for the second time this year.
The arrest came after a month-long sting operation to catch sexual predators in a joint law enforcement operation called “Operation Home Alone 2” in Pinal County.
“Operation Home Alone 2” was designed as a proactive operation to combat child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking. Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 3 multiple arrests were made as a result.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WHSV) — 20 Attorneys General from around the country asked President Trump for support in funding for a childcare protection program.
W. Va. AG Partick Morrisey is on board with the National Child ID Act, H.R. 4172, which would help parents, as well as law enforcement, in instances of abduction, exploitation and human trafficking.
This legislation would enable states to request grant funding for identification kits for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The identification kits would record a child’s physical characteristics, as well as take their fingerprints and DNA.
Over the last five days 18, people were arrested in San Joaquin County for attempting to have sexual contact with a minor – tying the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department’s record for an operation of that type.
And with additional resources allocated to the investigation including some provided from the Federal government, the net for nabbing those who would wish to harm a minor was much larger this time around.
According to Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, the operation also included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the California Department of Justice, and even the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office that aided in apprehending somebody who was aggressively pursuing the undercover decoy online but was outside of the operation’s jurisdiction.
The U.S. Marshals announced this week that they had located and rescued eight missing children in Indiana. The missing children recovered in “Operation Homecoming” were said to be “highly endangered.”
The children were “considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sex abuse, physical abuse and medical or mental health conditions,” according to the statement released by the U.S. Marshals Service, Southern District of Indiana.
(LUBBOCK, TX) – The Lubbock Police Department’s Special Operations Division, Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigation Division, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted a two-day prostitution operation, August 31 through September 2, at local hotels on Avenue Q which resulted in fifteen arrests
GREAT FALLS — Corey James Cannon has been charged in Great Falls with aggravated promotion of prostitution.
On August 25th, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) consulted with Great Falls police officers about an ongoing investigation regarding Cannon, who is an active-duty airman assigned to Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Court documents state that Cannon attempted to have sexual contact with a youth in Great Falls and was arrested on or about August 6th. OSI took jurisdiction of that investigation and seized Cannon’s phone.
Dozens of kids were rescued in “Operation Not Forgotten” this week. While most of the activity in the investigation was in the Atlanta area, WSB-TV reports that three arrests were made right here in Pinellas County. The two week search for missing children was an effort to find victims of sex trafficking. In all there were 9 arrests. Three of them were at an unnamed motel in Clearwater.
James Garcia has been charged with aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and incest with a minor. WSB reports a U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector says Garcia was found in the Clearwater motel with a missing 3 year old.
PHOENIX — Mesa police arrested eight suspects as part of an undercover operation targeting child sex crimes and human trafficking, the department announced Thursday.
Operation Vampire Cough had officers and undercover detectives placing advertisements on websites commonly used by individuals to seek out illegal sex acts.
Suspects solicited or made deals for various child sex acts and were subsequently arrested, the department said.
ATLANTA – Law enforcement officers describe them as some of the most challenging recovery cases in the state, but Thursday the U.S. Marshals Service announced the rescue of 39 missing children from all over Georgia.
During a two-week-long effort, dubbed “Operation Not Forgotten,” the Marshals Service worked with state and local law enforcement to rescue 26 children and safely locate another 13.
A 15-year-old girl said she was passed off to multiple men in exchange for money, Kentucky police said.
Steven Hargrove, 40, of La Vergne, Tennessee, was involved with the girl for “some time,” according to Kentucky State Police.
The girl’s mother said she was following a vehicle her missing daughter was in Monday night in Daviess County, state police said. She told police the car stopped at a gas station, where an officer soon arrived, according to an arrest citation.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Franklin County, Ohio, grand jury indicted three men for human trafficking and prostitution.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the grand jury returned a 23 count RICO indictment against Marcus Jahroam Carmon, 36, Anthony Lamont Dunn, 46, and Bradley C. Powell, 28.
Prosecutors said Carmon was the ring leader and has been charged with the following:
-Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity
-Trafficking in Persons – Commercial Sex Acts with Specification
A Denver grand jury on Thursday indicted seven individuals and 12 businesses on 33 felony counts in a human trafficking scheme.
Denver police and the district attorney’s office conducted a year-long investigation called “Operation Bad Apple” into a number of massage parlors and illegal marijuana businesses that investigators believe garnered millions of dollars by trafficking women from China, laundering money and evading taxes, according to a statement.
ATLANTA (CBS46)—The Georgia Bureau of Investigations have added another tool to its arsenal to combat human trafficking in Georgia.
According to Governor Brian Kemp’s office, the GBI created the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit to be housed within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The newly created unit will be staffed by four special agents and will focus on the enforcement efforts of commercial sex trafficking and labor trafficking as well as the rescue of adult trafficking victims.
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH)–The pandemic has led to a surge in sex trafficking , according to a private investigator who is based in the Midlands.
Investigator Chandra Cleveland has helped rescue many victims from sex trafficking.
“Last year almost to the date, of a 14-year-old that I had been looking for with her mother and father for nine months — almost 10 months — ended up finding another 14 year old with the same guy that was on house arrest for the same crime,” Cleveland said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, alleging that he groomed and sexually assaulted minors for years, beginning in Toledo, OH. Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith said the Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, is believed to have groomed and sexually assaulted minors since the late 1990s.
GENESEE COUNTY, MI – A law enforcement operation targeting child traffickers led to the arrest of 17 people. Over the course of five months, Swanson said that a team in his department known as GHOST – the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team – had set up six stings, during which law enforcement agents posed as 13, 14, and 15-year-old children on social media sites.
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Rape Crisis Center (RCC), which serves all of Clark County, launched its Resources and Integration for Survivor Empowerment or RISE program in January and assisted 72 human trafficking victims through the first six months of 2020.
Of the 72 victims served by the RCC, 58 were sex trafficking victims and 33 were labor trafficking victims, with some clients experiencing both forms of exploitation.
Orange County, California– A minor is safe after the persistence of a Sanger Police Officer Shaela Edwards, who followed leads when she suspected a sexual assault victim was also involved in human trafficking. The victim is now safe, and the suspected has been arrested and charged with Human Trafficking of a minor.
Las Vegas, Nevada– “Between 1994 and 2007, almost 1,500 minors appeared before a Las Vegas judge for prostitution-related charges, yet law enforcement arrested just 435 pimps between that same period.”
Fort Worth, Texas– In 2019, U.S. prosecutions under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 declined for the second year in a row. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, are demonstrating strong bi-partisan commitment to passing stronger federal legislation to improve victims’ services and strengthen law enforcement response to human trafficking.
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow announced that seven men are facing charges for solicitation of prostitution and one is being convicted for human trafficking following an investigation earlier this year. These eight cases are the product of a statewide campaign called Operation Reclaim and Rebuild 2020.
Clinton, Iowa– The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office has assigned their first and only full-time human trafficking investigator. “They’re going to have somebody now that’s going to work with them from beginning to end,” said Sheriff Paula Dance. “Not just an officer that comes to take a report and you never see them again.”
Tallahassee, Florida– At least 13 have been arrest in a major investigation involving allegations of child sex abuse and human trafficking. Court personnel mentioned that the cases are the result of a Tallahassee Police Department investigation dating back to 2018.
Chester County, Pennslvania– A 14-year-old girl escaped trafficking and led investigators to what experts believe is the first human sex trafficking case in this region that is tied to the 18th Street gang, a violent group that is a rival to MS-13. #usiaht #endhumantrafficking #survivors
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “I don’t want to be here anymore,” the girl said over Facebook Messenger. Two days later, on May 30, law enforcement rescued her at a Wawa parking lot in Malvern, leading to the discovery of a second, 18-year-old victim and the arrest of eight people.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Chico man to 14 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and distribution of meth to a person under 21, according to the U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott. According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, in July and August 2017, 25-year-old Christopher Ramonaguilar Lawrence, of Chico, recruited a then 17-year-old girl to engage in prostitution for his financial benefit.
Toledo, Ohio — Pablo Ramirez was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $70,000 fine in a trafficking-related case. “Ramirez exploited the desperation of migrant workers and, in some instances, their children for his own personal financial gain,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Human trafficking can take many forms, and this sentence reflects the Justice Department’s commitment to combat this plague in every shape it takes.”
Lima, Ohio — Man sentenced to nearly 42 years for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl. As part of his sentence, Cochran will pay full restitution to the victim and others impacted by the crimes. “While unthinkable to most of us, sex trafficking of children is real and organized,” said David M. DeVillers, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus. “We must recognize the unthinkable and report suspicious activity for the sake of our most vulnerable”.
Dallas, Texas — Cyntoia Brown Long says sex trafficking is often not “black and white” and there is no “perfect victim,” as evidenced by her own case and the ongoing case of Chrystul Kizer, a teenager who is accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker and was released on bond last week.
Tulsa, Oklahoma — Police arrest a man and woman for allegedly trafficking a 21-year-old female at a Super 8 motel. Officers said a woman called 911 to check the motel for her daughter, whom told her she was being prostituted.
Dallas, Texas — U.S. Atty Erin Nealy Cox announced the seizure of the “online successor to Backpage”, a website that has facilitated many cases of youth trafficking. “DOJ didn’t stop with Backpage, and we’re not going to stop with CityXGuide,” Nealy Cox said as she assessed what’s in store for the North Texas Trafficking Task Force. “If you are going to facilitate exploitation online, we’re not going to hesitate to seize your site and bring charges against you.”
Scioto County, Ohio – A federal grand jury has indicted a Scioto County man and several of his family members and associates with charges related to a child sex trafficking operation. According to United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David M. DeVillers, the man allegedly exchanged drugs obtained in Columbus and elsewhere for sexual access to the children of drug-addicted mothers. The FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force agents began investigating Larry Dean Porter, 69, in April 2019.
Kenosha County, WI — Chrystul Kizer is out of custody after a Chicago-based aid organization posted her $400,000 bond. Kizer, 19, was released from Kenosha County Jail on Monday afternoon. She has been in custody for two years, awaiting trial for the June 2018 shooting death of a man prosecutors admit had been sexually assaulting Kizer and other underage girls.
Ohio– The U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the southern district of Ohio, says 28-year-old Nicholas Salvadore Cochran was sentenced 42 years in prison. Aside from the prison time, Cochran has been ordered to pay full restitution to the victim, court costs, and a fine, as well as remain under court supervision for life.
Albuquerque, New Mexico– A new FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force welcomed six Bernalillo County law enforcement officers to its ranks after they were deputized. The officers are authorized to help investigate federal crimes for the multi-agency task force, which was created in April.
Colorado Springs, Colorado– A man was arrested and is being charged with attempted human trafficking of a minor in Colorado Springs. In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 176 cases of trafficking the state of Colorado.
Washington, D.C. — The number of people seeking emergency shelter to escape human trafficking surged in the month following U.S. lockdown orders implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus, a leading anti-trafficking group said on Monday.
Auburn, Alabama– Multiple agencies in Lee County have gotten together this year to discuss the growing problem of sex and human trafficking. “[There are] kids [who] don’t really have a way to make money, a lot of times they have to do things that they don’t like to do in order to get food, to get shelter,” Teresa Collier, an intelligence analyst, said. “So a lot of times what we see are those runaway kids, they’re engaging in survival sex.”
Beloit, Wisconsin — Employees from jobs spanning multiple industries have received training in spotting the signs of human trafficking in a bid to alert authorities sooner of possible dangerous situations.
Sacramento, California — With signers from 192 countries, anti-trafficking expert Laila Mickelwait’s “Traffickinghub” petition to shut down Pornhub for allegedly enabling and profiting from the sex trafficking and rape of women and children on the site has surpassed one million signatures.
Mississippi– A human trafficking bill championed by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn survived the Senate on committee deadline day Tuesday. HB 1559 was designed to directly address the housing service gap for minors who are trafficking victims.
Beaumont, Texas — A Groves woman and a Beaumont man are facing charges of human trafficking after police located a missing juvenile in a hotel room last week. Police in Beaumont responded to the Petro Truck Stop at Walden Road and I-10 in reference to the missing juvenile. The information they received sent them to several hotels in the area in an attempt to locate the victim before they were told she was last seen at the Executive Inn, according to a press release from BPD Officer Haley Morrow.
Beloit, Wisconsin — With Beloit positioned as a transportation hub near Milwaukee and Chicago, the Beloit Police Department says it is taking steps to combat human trafficking and raise awareness in the community about the problem. “We tell our officers that when they come across someone—especially a young woman or man—who has been battered and is reluctant to talk to police, that is the person they need to spend extra time with,” Police Department Inspector Stigler said. “They need to talk about their background, where they grew up, where they have been and who have they been associated with and who they get money from.”
West Palm Beach, Florida — A man is accused of trafficking two women across multiple states, including in Florida. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office arrested 30-year-old Derrion Kirby early Saturday morning. According to the sheriff’s office, deputies responded to La Quinta Hotel on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach for a human trafficking complaint where an 18-year-old woman was being held against her will.
Tucson, Arizona — The Tucson Police Department is raising awareness about the global crisis of human and sex trafficking with the help of Faith, a young woman who was trafficking for 7 years by the MS-13 gang. “I never learned to read, or write, and now I am going to classes to get my GED,” Faith said. “I want to become a social worker so I can help other victims.”
Waco, Texas — The 20th and final suspect was arrested Thursday in a local online sting in which men allegedly solicited sex from an undercover officer posing as a teenager, authorities said. Investigators this spring conducted the undercover sting designed to protect children who would potentially be more vulnerable to online exploitation as schools closed and stay-at-home orders were issued to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Lancaster Co., SC — Three brothers were arrested Thursday and charged with human trafficking and related offenses, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office reports. Sheriff Barry Faile said, “This was an exhaustive investigation. When it began we had little to go on. This victim is a courageous young lady, and she provided us enough pieces of the puzzle that investigators were able to put together the picture and identify the men and the location involved. These men preyed upon a particularly vulnerable young person and committed atrocious crimes against her. I am most appreciative of the efforts of our investigators and those of SLED, HSI, and the Attorney General’s Office.”
Green Lake, Wisconsin– The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has filed charges against Julio Cesar Veleta Veleta, 35, and Amabilio Garcia Rivera, 32, for sex trafficking; sex trafficking by fraud, force and coercion; and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, according to the criminal complaint.
Princeton, Minnesota — According to complaints filed in Mille Lacs County District Court, a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension human trafficking task force officer was alerted to information from a confidential informant that Deitrich and Miller had been offering sexual intercourse with Deitrich and a juvenile female for sale to a third party in exchange for money and methamphetamine.
Dayton, Ohio– Sex trafficking has increased because of job loss, a lack of housing security and reduced social and public services according to Abolition Ohio, an anti trafficking coalition organized by the University of Dayton. The public is invited to attend on Zoom The Abolition Ohio Monthly Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition Meetings to learn about resources available to students, educators, and community members in order to keep kids safe from trafficking and exploitation.
Waco, Texas– According to investigators, 30-year-old Zene Morlatt of LaGrange, KY communicated with an undercover detective through text messages and a web-based electronic messaging service over the course of several weeks. During the conversation, Morlatt believed he was communicating with a 16-year-old girl and discussed the sexual performance of the child, used sexually-explicit language, and sent multiple obscene images.
Glasgow, KY — Following an investigation that began after a February complaint, Barren County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Terry Hagan, 55, Friday on a charge of promoting human trafficking victim under 18 years old and five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, according to his arrest citation.
Boise, Idaho — Amanda Forest survived a life inside the world of human trafficking, now she wants to help other victims in Idaho. “What we are aiming for is a survivor-centered approach,” said Forrest. “We are dialing in on ending the demand.”
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. — Three Aiken County motels are being sued for allegedly knowing about and profiting from sex trafficking that occurred at their property between August 2017 and 2018.
The plaintiff, represented by attorney Daniel R. Dalton of Mickelsen Dalton LLC in Mount Pleasant, is described as a female resident of South Carolina who is a victim of a “severe form of trafficking,” according to a complaint filed Thursday through the Second Judicial Circuit. At each location, the plaintiff was told by her trafficker to decline housekeeping; the trafficker paid for rooms in cash or with counterfeit money and a large number of men and women would enter and exit where the plaintiff stayed. The South Carolina Attorney General’s human trafficking force task force is comprised of more than 300 different agencies across the state, including some in Aiken, and is working to get to the root of the problem.
Phoenix, Arizona– The Office of the Arizona Attorney General awarded $275,000 to local organizations that provide support to human trafficking survivors. The grants, spread across four organizations, are expected to help about 150 individuals. The Phoenix area is expanding emergency and long-term housing options for victims of trafficking. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that this vital property and the resources it provides are available to those who need it,” Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring, the chair of the city’s human trafficking task force, said in the release.
South Fulton, Georgia– A 15-year-old victim was rescued and a suspect arrested as a result of a trafficking investigation on Tuesday, police said on Facebook. The suspect faces a host of charges related to trafficking, abuse, and exploitation. According to the police department, two other cases of possible human trafficking were investigated in South Fulton this month. Two more victims were rescued.
Hillsborough County, Florida — As the state reopens following the coronvirus pandemic, Hillsborough County is ramping up plans for Super Bowl LV. As part of the preparations, County Commissioner Kimberly Overman led the effort to form the Commission on Human Trafficking.
TULSA, Okla. — An Oklahoma man made an appearance in federal court Friday for allegedly soliciting a woman to molest her 11-year-old child in exchange for help with living expenses. “This is another case which destroys the innocence of a child and touches the heart of every justice official involved in the investigation”, Tulsa Chief of Police Wendell Franklin said in a news release. “May the work performed by our agency and our federal partners—the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Attorney’s Office—be feared by any criminal looking to exploit our innocent children.”
San Bernardino County, California– An undercover sting in which police posed as prostitutes at a Redlands hotel to bust “Johns” who solicited sex for money on Wednesday netted 13 suspects, ranging in age from 17 to 63, officials said. San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force investigators conducted what they called an “in-call hotel ‘John’ operation,” the department said in a written statement. “During the operation, undercover officers were deployed at a local hotel to pose as prostitutes through online advertisements,” according to the statement. Online ads are a primary tool for those involved in the human trafficking of underage victims, officials added.
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A 15-year-old girl is back home after she was recovered from a 31-year-old man’s apartment after she had been reported missing since April. The suspect, Jerreck Hillard, 31, was arrested without incident. At the time of his arrest, he was out on bond on three other felony charges. “Child sex trafficking is a despicable crime,” said Pct. 5 Constable Ted Heap. “Thanks to the hard work of our Major Offenders Division and the DPS, we were able to get this teenage victim out of harm’s way and back home.”
Orlando, Florida– A Melbourne criminal defense attorney accused of using his law firm as a prostitution front is facing more human trafficking charges, based on allegations that he had sex with an underage girl in exchange for legal services he provided to her pimp.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution confirmed Wednesday that John Gillespie, 71, is facing additional counts of trafficking a juvenile for commercial sex and trafficking an adult for commercial sex.
Two men were indicted in U.S. District Court in Toledo on Wednesday in separate cases of sexually exploiting a minor and possessing child pornography, according to court documents. One of the accused allegedly sent nude photos of the girl, which appear to be taken by hidden cameras. He also told an Oregon man that he had been experimenting with drugs to see which ones work best on the child.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Three people have been indicted by a grand jury in connection with an on-going human sex trafficking investigation, according to the district attorney’s office. According to court records, the alleged crimes occurred in 2019 and 2020 and involved a minor victim. This case is being prosecuted by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Team, which includes two attorneys, an investigator and a victim advocate.
Miami, Florida– Police arrested a South Florida man they say allegedly forced a young woman into prostitution and sex trafficking across the area. “Human trafficking is always a very ugly crime. The traffickers, wanting those dollars, are continuously looking for young victims because that’s where they feel the money is,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Fortunately, the Miami-Dade law enforcement community is united together to fight such predators.”
Houston, Texas– Deputies recovered a 15-year-old girl from human trafficking and arrested her alleged trafficker. Deputies said she had been reported missing since April. “Child sex trafficking is a despicable crime,” said Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap. “Thanks to the hard work of our Major Offenders Division and the DPS, we were able to get this teenage victim out of harm’s way and back home.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced the creation of a Human Trafficking Bureau that is exclusively dedicated to combating sex and labor trafficking by aggressively prosecuting traffickers and buyers of sex. The bureau will also connect survivors of trafficking with meaningful services to empower them to escape their traffickers. “The sex trafficking industry is brutal, degrading and illegal enterprise that far too often profits by forcing women, children and members of our transgender community into prostitution,” Katz said. “This new and dedicated bureau within my office will combat those who would victimize others with aggressive investigations to end this industry.”
Rocky Ford, Colorado– A twenty-six-year-old suspect was arrested on charges of soliciting for child prostitution and attempted sexual exploitation of a child by the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Metro Vice Unit. The CSPD MVU began investigating the suspect in April by setting up an online profile of who he thought he was soliciting sexual intercourse and sexually explicit photographs from a 16-year-old female. In actuality, it was an undercover CSPD officer.
An online sting operation launched last month has so far netted 18 arrests of men accused of trying to arrange sex with minors. McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci said he launched the investigation early last month because he knew more children would be online and potentially vulnerable during school closures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Local officials are expected to release information in the coming week with tips for parents and guardians on how to keep track of their children’s use of social media and electronic devices. “When our children are home, (parents’) automatic position is that they are safe,” Kilcrease said. “The internet allows people to reach inside of that, and parents need to know this is how children are communicating.
FLORENCE, Ky. — Boone County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Florence man Wednesday after they say he raped and sodomized several teenagers and in some cases offered them marijuana in exchange for sex acts. Merritt later told authorities he has a “thriving drug operation” and prefers to surround himself with girls aged 13-16 with whom he has some sexual contact, police say. Deputies charged Merritt with three counts of human trafficking, three counts of rape, five counts of sodomy and three counts of unlawful transaction with a minor.
Sex trafficking has increased in our area due to instability caused by COVID-19, according to area non-profit Hub of HOPE.
“Despite COVID-19, trafficking continues,” said Jenny Sorey, founder and executive director of Hub of HOPE. “We would estimate that it is actually increasing, simply because of the nature of trafficking. We know that it has a direct relationship with poverty and addiction, and are we not seeing an increase of poverty or an increase of a need for financial stability?”
“Having those great needs and being in a situation where they are at high risk, their vulnerability is increased. A traffickers pleas, a traffickers grooming tactics are going to be hard to dismiss because the promises are very good, but they’re very empty,” Sorey said. “They’re promised love or attention, companionship — who doesn’t want companionship during COVID time, right? — and so many people really lend their ear to those, really, lies, empty promises of a trafficker, and find themselves then caught in sex trafficking.”
On Jan. 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we applauded Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pardon Robbie Ann Hamilton, a North Dallas sex trafficking survivor turned advocate who committed nonviolent crimes decades ago.
Hamilton, now 58 and an advocate and mentor for victims of trafficking and those suffering from addiction, described the state’s new path toward clemency as “monumental.” Thanks to decades of advocacy and education by nonprofits like Dallas-based New Friends New Life, she explained, “we better understand the impact of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking on the victims of these heinous crimes, and so can better address and care for the victims.”
Those that have signed on to the effort “are joining the Department to ensure that America’s transportation systems are not hijacked to facilitate human trafficking,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao on May 7. “These companies are on the frontlines of helping to ensure the safety of our traveling public.” A goal of the effort is to get one million employees trained to help fight the crime, according to DOT.
Co-founder of the organization says the sex trafficking numbers are up during the pandemic and the virus is making it harder to get to the women.
“The opportunities for them to get to safety is actually lower and it has created a challenge in our response. Also being able to find placement for them because just like many other medical facilities and shelters, they are overrun right now and not accepting new individuals for their own safety,” says Sarah Mckinnis, Co-Founder of Willowbend Farms
Dallas, Texas – With COVID-19’s closures of nonessential businesses, many trafficking enterprises are violating those restrictions. These venues of sex and labor trafficking operate behind the façade of a commercial front business — like illicit massage venues used as a cover for sex trafficking.