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.
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. Throughout April, Fairfax County Police Department has arrested dozens of men this month in connection with an online child predator sting. “Operation COVID Crackdown.” The age of the men ranges from 20 to 74, they reportedly used online platforms to “initiate explicit conversations and solicit sex from police officers posing as children.”
ANTIOCH, CA— 30-year-old, Cedric West, is facing felony charges of human trafficking; an enhancement alleges he beat his victim, a 16-year-old girl known in court records only as “Jane Doe,” with a bottle. The charging records he “inflicted great bodily injury” in November 2018.
Austin, TX. Advocates say the pandemic has made it harder for victims of human trafficking and other types of abuse to leave dangerous situations. Korin Arkin who manages the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s call response says economic instability breeds the type of vulnerability that sex and labor traffickers prey on.
Steven is the co-founder CEO of Valiant Consultants, a US-based firm that offers automation services for Amazon and helps survivors of sex trafficking. Each time an Amazon store opens with Steve’s team, 5% of profits go to Amazon partners that help prevent and work toward stopping sex traffickers. Steve has opened over 600 stores and has given back thousands of dollars to survivors of sex trafficking.
Terrell “Supreme” Armstead, 29, faces a mandatory minimum 15-year prison sentence after a jury in U.S. District Court in Washington convicted him. Armstead was convicted on one count of sex trafficking by a federal jury in a seven day trial.
According to charging documents, Armstead used an Instagram hashtag “#TeamSupreme” to advertise a commercial prostitution business. Prosecutors said he posted videos, images of cash and asked “Who wants to join TeamSupreme?” Armstead also promoted “the choosing season,” when pimps seek recruits or try to persuade women already working for other traffickers to change allegiances.
More than $65 million in Department of Justice grants is available to help communities combat human trafficking and serve victims of trafficking operations, the agency announced.
The funding is available through OJP, the federal government’s leading source of public safety funding and crime victim assistance in state, local and tribal jurisdictions. More funding grants and opportunities are going to be released in April.
58-year-old Kenneth Wayne Hart has been convicted in a federal drug and sex trafficking case for prostituting women in the District and in Maryland and using the Internet to advertise, according to federal prosecutors.
He was also found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking along with sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Hart ran a prostitution business that recruited women to engage in sex acts. supplied the women with heroin and crack cocaine and threatened to withhold drugs.
TAMPA (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side’s “Storefronts for Sex” investigation triggered a crackdown on illicit health spas in Tampa. Compliance teams are doing a sweep of spas, parlors and adult businesses across Hillsborough County. They are checking the human trafficking signage at these establishments all week long.
The new red and white signs, which state the National Human Trafficking Resource Center phone number 1-888-373-7888, must be clearly visible to customers and workers. A business that fails to have the proper signs will face a $265 fine.
A Scores strip club in Florida employed a “severely” disabled 17-year-old sex trafficking victim with a fake ID and allowed her to be groped and molested by grownup males, a scathing lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.
The woman, recognized in courtroom papers as Jane Doe, was developmentally 13 years outdated when her trafficker introduced her to the chain’s Tampa location. For the following three days, the minor was plied with Xanax and booze by the club and different dancers, supplied cocaine and was pressured to carry out “sexually express acts.”
The coalition aims to raise awareness about human trafficking in the Berkeley community and invited T Ortiz, one of Time Magazine’s 2013 “30 Under 30” nominees, as a keynote speaker to discuss the issue of human trafficking. Ortiz, who was a victim of trafficking herself, said society needs to realize that victims do not need pity; instead, victims need to be supported in many ways.
“We are talking about our girls,” Alejandre said at the event. “They are people too and they are not just defined by their trafficking experience.”
BOSTON – 74-year old Walter Brown was sentenced to 15 years on Friday in federal court in Springfield on sex trafficking and sexual exploitation charges.
On Oct 11, 2019, co-defendant Claire Poole was sentenced to 10 and a half years (125 months) in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and two counts of sex trafficking. Poole moved to the Springfield area in early 2017 and later helped Brown have sex with a teenage girl.
A law passed by Congress in 2005 mandated that the Justice Department provide research, statistical review and analysis of severe trafficking of persons every two years in order to know the scope of the problem. Unfortunately, only one was ever done, in 2009.
This new bill will mandate that a comprehensive national study on human trafficking will be conducted every two years there will be statistical information available to the public to see as well as help experts in human trafficking to learn how human traffickers are currently operating and how to stop them. Kevin Malone, president of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, said that these national studies “would be a tremendous help because a lot of people don’t believe the problem exists.”
After being released from prison in 2010, ex FBI informant, Ray Lawrence moved into his daughter’s dormitory in NY City. Soon, he started doing “therapy sessions” with her roommates, convincing them that they were broken and need of fixing and that he could help them.
Raymond Rodio III had been running the drug-fueled brothel, which involved more than 20 women in their 20s, since 2014. He set up dates through Backpage and Craigslist.
On February 4th, Rodio plead guilty to operating a sex trafficking ring in the basement of his parents’ home, where he occasionally locked them inside and forced them to use a bucket as a toilet. He is expected to be sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.
“The anti-trafficking community received a major shot in the arm this morning with President Trump’s announcement,” said Lance Lemmonds of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking. “President Trump has committed more federal resources and more national focus on combating the systematic buying and selling of our nation’s kids than any administration in history.”
On January 31, 2020, “Trump signed an executive order Friday creating a position within his domestic policy team dedicated solely to fighting human trafficking. The order proposes an additional $42 million in funding for service programs and prosecutions…The order also establishes a federal working group on housing for trafficking survivors and a website listing the government’s anti-trafficking resources.”
Leah Gunn, has recently escaped sex trafficking after being trapped for nearly two decades, Leah is now working part time at RE+NEW+ALL, candle company in Memphis, TN, is providing survivors of sex trafficking the opportunity to have a new purpose. “In its earliest form, RE+NEW+ALL was not a business — it was art therapy.” Survivors are able to work part time and work on their goals whether it is reconnecting with a loved one or going back to school to get a G.E.D. Although, severe thunderstorms in January flooded their studio, their inventory was saved.
To learn more about RE+NEW+ALL and what they are doing in Memphis visit their website at https://www.renewallcandle.com/
In Englewood, NJ. the “Sex Trafficking: In Our Backyard” panel discusses how sex trafficking is taking place in our own communities. “Young people are often groomed by sexual predators, who may even be their friends and neighbors, by advertisements and by what they see on social media.” Teen girls report being recruited by sex traffickers on Instagram. #usiaht #endhumantrafficking