KING 5 News, KING5.com 2:54 p.m. PST January 7, 2016
(Photo: KING 5 News)
SEATTLE – King County officials, Bellevue police, and the FBI announced Thursday they rescued 12 women, arrested 14 men, and shut down multiple brothels as part of a major human trafficking bust which was promoted through the Internet and social media. Police say the women were brought to America and forced into prostitution.
Sheriff John Urquhart says two websites — thereviewboard.net and kgirldelights.com — were seized and shut down. The “K” in kgirldelights.com stands for Korean. Police say the websites were used to rate, discuss, and promote the prostitution of women.
“Information shared on the site was used to exploit the foreign-born women, mostly from Korea, who were also being shuttled from one city to the next on a monthly basis. Organizers of the network encouraged sex buyers to consistently visit the most desired prostituted persons advertised so that they would be kept in the Seattle area longer,” said the sheriff’s office in a statement.
Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said the arrests happened Tuesday and Wednesday in Bellevue and both King and Pierce counties. Eleven of those arrested were either part of a group called “The League,” or were those who ran thereviewboard.net.
Local prostitution website shutdown by law enforcement
Urquhart said kgirldelights.com was run by “The League,” made up of a group of businessmen. The women were forced into prostitution to pay debts, often being held against their will. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said some of the women were forced to work every day, up to 14 hours, servicing up to 10 Johns per day.
Although the arrests were made in Western Washington, men from at least 15 states were involved.
The sheriff’s office said its investigation began when a trafficking victim came forward. She said she was brought to America from South Korea and forced into prostitution to pay off a family debt.
Related: Handout from investigators explaining how it worked (Warning: Some content may be considered graphic)
Mylett said his department became involved when it was learned one of the brothels set up by “The League” was located in a high-end downtown Bellevue apartment complex. Police say the brothel owner was one of the most active users of thereviewboard.net.
The suspects had no criminal records, Urquhart said. They would meet regularly, in public, to discuss their operation. Undercover detectives infiltrated “The League,” leading to the arrests.
A total of 12 brothels were shut down in the sting. Three brothel operators, including one woman, were arrested.
Thirteen people are being charged with second degree promoting prostitution, which is a Class C felony. Satterberg said they face a maximum of five years in prison.
“These charges reveal a part of our community that most people do not want to believe exists,” said Satterberg. “Because they had money, these men gained access to sexually abuse these vulnerable young women, then put their energies toward a campaign to encourage many more men to do the same. This is what human trafficking looks like.”
ICE arrests more than 1,400 human traffickers in 2015, identifies nearly 400 victims across the US
ICE arrests more than 1,400 human traffickers in 2015, identifies nearly 400 victims across the US
WASHINGTON — In Fiscal Year 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 1,437 individuals for human trafficking – the illegal trade and exploitation of people for commercial gain, most commonly in the form of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. From those cases, nearly 400 trafficking victims were identified and offered critical services.
This year marks the sixth anniversary of President Barack Obama’s proclamation of January as National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention month. ICE participates in a variety of human trafficking awareness events in January and throughout the year.
“Our special agents work tirelessly to disrupt criminal trafficking networks and help their victims, but there is still so much to be done,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “While the efforts of law enforcement are crucial to the cause, educating the public to recognize signs of trafficking and supporting the organizations who work to make victims whole are also important parts of our overall strategy.”
While human trafficking can occur in a variety of scenarios and industries, indicators of trafficking activities often look the same across cases. Educating the public to recognize the signs is crucial to identifying victims and bringing traffickers to justice.
Examples of HSI human trafficking cases in 2015 include:
Multistate Sex Trafficking – In October 2015, HSI arrested 29 people in eight states for sex trafficking more than 13 Hispanic women and girls from Mexico and Central America through a system of brothels across the southeastern United States. Now with 41 indictments, this case has the highest number of indictments of any HSI human trafficking investigation. The 15-month investigation was a success because of the combined support from DHS Joint Task Force – Investigations, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Administration and multiple state/local law enforcement agencies.
Domestic servitude – A military official from Qatar and his wife brought two domestic servants with them to San Antonio, Texas. The couple allegedly housed the workers in primitive conditions, threatened them with arrest and jail, withheld their wages, and deprived them of cell phones, passports, visas and food. HSI made the arrest on forced labor charges on May 30, 2015.
Human Trafficking Top 10 Fugitive Captured – Paulino Ramirez-Granados was arrested March 31, 2015, in Tenancingo, Mexico through a joint investigation by HSI Mexico City, HSI New York and the Mexican Federal Police. The Granados family and its associates would romance young women before coercing them into prostitution in Mexico, smuggling them into the United States, and then continuing the control, physical and sexual abuse, and threats in New York City. HSI identified 26 victims and 19 other traffickers and smugglers.
Since 2010, HSI has arrested over 7,000 individuals for human trafficking offenses.
ICE is one of the primary federal agencies responsible for combating human trafficking. ICE works with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure engaged in human trafficking. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of its authorities and expertise, stripping away assets and profit incentive, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations to identify and provide assistance to trafficking victims.
If you notice suspicious activity, please contact ICE through its tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or www.ice.gov/tips. For more information about the Department of Homeland Security’s overall efforts against human trafficking, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign.
95 arrested in Polk County human trafficking sting
A South Bend man will spend the next 25.5 years of his life in prison on sex trafficking charges.
The decision came in federal court Thursday morning.
Douglas Jackson, 26, was arrested last June at a hotel in Grand Rapids.
He posted internet ads for escort services and split the proceeds with a 15-year-old female.
Jackson must serve 235 months in prison on six counts of sex trafficking of a minor, plus 60 additional months for a firearms offense.
According to documents in the case, during May and June 2014, Jackson transported the female to several cities throughout the Midwest for the purposes of prostitution. These cities were Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Memphis, Fort Wayne, and Grand Rapids
Bolingbrook man gets 47-years sentence for sex trafficking
Sun-Times file photo
A Bolingbrook man has been sentenced to 47 years in federal prison for running a sex-trafficking ring that forced at least four people, including a 17-year-old girl, into prostitution.
U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo sentenced 43-year-old McKenzie Carson Thursday after a jury found him guilty in December 2013 of four counts of sex trafficking, according to the U.S. attorney’s office..
Testifying at his trial, his victims said Carson — also known as “Casino” and “Joe Taylor” — chose vulnerable young victims and threatened them with violence to exploit them.
Carson used drugs, including heroin, to control his victims and beat or raped his victims when they disobeyed him, according to prosecutors, who said he forced them to work as prostitutes in Chicago and the suburbs and give him the money.
He ran the operation from at least late 2009 to 2010.
More than 150 people arrested in nationwide sex trafficking sting
Branded: Sex Slavery in America — full documentary 23:30
(CNN)More than 150 people were arrested and nearly as many underage trafficking victims were rescued as part of a nationwide sex sting, the FBI announced on Wednesday.
The youngest victim was 12 years old.
The effort, which is now in its ninth year, was spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with local law enforcement.
Sex trafficking: The new American slavery
“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement, announcing the outcome of the sting known as Operation Cross Country.
“As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system,” she said.
Sex trafficking survivors use new ink to reclaim their lives
More than 3,500 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center last year alone.
Under federal law, anyone under 18 years of age induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking — regardless of whether the trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion.
How to help sex trafficking victims in the U.S.
ONTARIO: Louisiana man convicted in ‘despicable’ human-trafficking case
Prosecutors say he brought a teen to Ontario from Louisiana to make more money prostituting her here.
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BY GAIL WESSON / STAFF WRITER
Published: Oct. 7, 2015 Updated: 3:32 p.m.
Isiah Silke Mincey
, COURTESY OF SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
A 30-year-old man has been convicted of pimping, human trafficking and other charges in a 2013 case where prosecutors say he brought a teenager from Louisiana to California to make more money by prostituting her.
In a news release, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office described the case as “despicable” and “outright modern day slavery.”
A truck driver became concerned when he met the 17-year-old victim at an Ontario truck stop and contacted police, according to the statement.
A San Bernardino County Superior Court jury on Tuesday, Oct. 6, convicted Isiah Mincey, of Lake Charles, La., of 10 charges including pimping, pandering, false imprisonment by violence, assault and human trafficking of a minor for a sex act by force. He faces 15 years to life prison when he is sentenced Nov. 14 in court in Rancho Cucamonga.
Mincey and the victim had been staying at a motel and he beat her severely when he woke up one night and found her talking on her cellphone, according to the statement.
“He strangled her to the point that she almost lost consciousness,” Deputy District Attorney Melissa Rodriguez said in the written statement. The victim testified she didn’t want to work for Mincey anymore, but he told her it was too late.
A few weeks later, Ontario police tracked Mincey down. He was with a new 18-year-old woman who was working as a prostitute. She had been dropped off to work an area controlled by another pimp who raped her and returned her to Mincey, who beat her with a belt, according to the release.
Contact the writer: 951-368-9075 or email@example.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A local motel where investigators say young girls were brought and forced to work as part of a sex trafficking ring has been stripped of its franchise.
The owner of the motel is accused of profiting from teen prostitution. According to the Department of Justice, Charlotte ranks in the top 10 nationally for sex trafficking.
Hannah Arrowood, the Executive Director of Present Age Ministries, a group that rescues teens from human traffickers, said most people would be surprised to know how big the problem is in Charlotte.
“What we’ve learned is Charlotte becomes a central hub for various factors, but one of the main ones being all of the interstate highways are so accessible,” said Arrowood.
Red Roof Inn has terminated its franchise agreement with the west Charlotte motel, located at 3300 Queen City Drive.
The owner, Chandresh Patel, through his attorneys released a statement, saying “they were recently advised of criminal activity which took place at the hotel in the past,” and they are in “regular communications with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and are taking action to resolve the issues.”
Charlotte hotel at center of sex trafficking allegations
Patel and his attorneys also pointed out that they have new management in place and new procedures in place to eliminate the conditions that may have allowed criminal activity in the past.
The federal investigation took several months before authorities made a move. Last week, the FBI and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police filed the paperwork asking to seize the property from its owner due to sex trafficking violations that happened on the premises.
Sources told WCNC that pimps would transport young girls from out of state and force them to work. Arrowood’s organization works with girls as young as 12 years old.
“I think they would be shocked to find it in their local high schools. I think they would be shocked to find it in their local churches. I think they would be shocked to find it at the malls they shop at,” said Arrowood.
Sources told WCNC that this is the first time in North Carolina that authorities have attempted to seize a property due to human trafficking.
Tulsan sentenced in child sex-trafficking case
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Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:00 am
By SAMANTHA VICENT World Staff Writer | 2 comments
Related story: Tulsa man charged with human trafficking after reportedly using runaways as prostitutes
A Tulsa man was sentenced Wednesday to nearly eight years in federal prison in a child sex-trafficking case, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma said in a news release.
Damian Wardell, also known as “Fray Fray,” pleaded guilty May 6 to a February indictment alleging that he prostituted a 16-year-old girl at a Tulsa motel from Nov. 19-22 of last year.
The girl’s mother told Tulsa police about her daughter’s whereabouts, and they arrived to find the girl and two other juveniles in a room, according to the release.
Wardell is set to serve 92 months in federal custody.
Officials said the case is a part of Project Safe Childhood, which was launched by the Department of Justice nationwide in 2006 to fight child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Court records also indicate that Wardell was charged last December with five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of illegal drug possession. Those charges were dismissed when he was indicted in federal court.
Wardell had a prior Tulsa County conviction for domestic violence and spent time in state custody for 1996 drug, firearm and robbery convictions.
Sex Trafficking Victims Seek To Reinstate Lawsuit Against Backpage by Wendy Davis @wendyndavis, June 19, 2015, 1:05 PM
A group of teen sex trafficking victims are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit against Backpage.com
Counsel for the teens started the appellate process this week, by filing a “notice of appeal” with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. The teens' move comes around 30 days after U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns in Boston dismissed allegations that Backpage.com facilitates sex trafficking through the design of its online classifieds site.
Stearns said in a written ruling that the Communications Decency Act immunizes Web services companies from liability for crimes by users. “Congress has made the determination that the balance between suppression of trafficking and freedom of expression should be struck in favor of the latter in so far as the Internet is concerned,” Stearns wrote last month.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in October 2014 by three people who say they were sold for sex on Backpage.com.
Two of the plaintiffs are still teens, while the third is now 20 years old. They allege that Backpage (along with related companies Camarillo Holdings and New Times Media) violated a host of laws, including federal and state laws against sex trafficking and a state law against unfair and deceptive conduct.
Backpage, which has prevailed in at least one similar prior case, successfully argued that it wasn't responsible for crimes committed by users of its service.
The online classifieds company garnered support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights advocates, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging Stearns to accept Backpage's argument. They said that requiring Backpage to face the lawsuit would cause online platforms to become “more expensive, more restrictive, and ultimately less available for individual exprert
Inside the N.J. hotel where cops fight human trafficking, guns, drugs
howard johnson express inn hotel
The main entrance to the Howard Johnson Express Inn, located off the Black Horse Pike in Blackwood, as seen on June 16, 2015. (Greg Adomaitis | For NJ.com) (Greg Adomaitis | For NJ.com)
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on June 18, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated June 18, 2015 at 11:31 AM
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A cleaning lady pushes around a cart of supplies along a third-floor walkaway. A man and woman leave their room with what looks like a basket of laundry, toss it into the trunk of a minivan with New Jersey plates and drive off.
A customized car with windows tinted to the tone of night pulls into a side parking lot. The driver, a Mount Holly man who doesn't want to give his name, says from behind equally dark sunglasses, "Hold on. I'll call you right back," and steps out to talk.
It's noon at the Howard Johnson Express Inn and what looks like mundane weekday activity pales in comparison to the criminal incidents reported there over the past two years.
"They have no where else to go," the man, who appears to be in his late 20s, says of drug users. He's an admitted heroin addict and on the road to recovery. "This is the last stop on the block. You get to a phase of where you're isolated from society."
Of the approximately 20 vehicles parked at the hotel, all but five have New Jersey license plates. The others are from all across the East Coast save Ohio. Through jumbled lettering, the sign out front advertises a pool, in-room spa and "low weekly rates."
Behind closed doors, Gloucester Township police have found human trafficking suspects and victims, alleged prostitutes, "johns," drivers, recovered a fully-loaded shotgun, an AK-47 assault rifle and seized all sorts of hard drugs.
"We have a very successful neighborhood watch group in that area who provide us with concerns and information, but generally [criminal activity] has been noticed by the aggressive enforcement efforts of our officers, which has led to increased enforcement," Gloucester Township Police Department Deputy Chief David Harkins said.
A cart full of cleaning supplies sits along the third-floor walkway of the Howard Johnson Express Inn, in Blackwood, while two guests leave a room directly below on June 16, 2015. The vehicle of a Mount Holly man who said he was a recovering heroin addict but didn't want to say why he was at the hotel is seen at far left. (Greg Adomaitis | For NJ.com)
Greg Adomaitis | For NJ.com
In January 2014, a Sicklerville man and a Pennsylvania woman were charged with first-degree human trafficking for allegedly forcing a 26-year-old North Carolina woman into prostitution following a sting at the hotel.
Hotel management cooperated with the investigation that included undercover officers renting rooms and posing as johns while ordering women through a website. Additional charges came for those accused of transporting the prostitutes, women acting as prostitutes and others on drug offenses.
Reached last week by phone, hotel management declined to offer additional insight but confirmed that they do work with police.
"... generally we have had a normal relationship with the business, and they generally comply and assist when we request it," Harkins said.
In September 2014, a Lindenwold man was caught trying to flee his hotel room while not wearing any clothes. After police searched his room, they found a shotgun, AK-47 and a handgun as well as one unloaded handgun, an unspecified amount of cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, oxycodone pills and drug paraphernalia.
In April, township police were at the Wawa right next door when they were told about a knife-point robbery that had taken place at the hotel. Although the suspect was not immediately located, police investigating the report ended up charged two men at the hotel with promoting prostitution. For the three women suspected to have been engaging in prostitution there, referrals to private counseling and various woman's shelters in the area were offered.
Harkins said Gloucester Township police provide victims of prostitution and human trafficking with information about their Project SAVE advocate, the GT Vision Family Resource Center's licensed social worker and Dream Catchers.
It's done "all with the hope of providing them a resource to get out of the prostitution life," Harkins said.
"We believe in utilizing the media and using the deterrence value of reporting to keep criminal activity in check. The proliferation of prostitution websites such as 'backpage.com' has moved many prostitutes off of the streets and into hotel rooms to meet clients," the deputy chief added.
It doesn't take long using the website Harkins noted to find women selling themselves and their bodies. Pictures, phone numbers and locations — including one post that notes three towns along the Black Horse Pike — are at anyone's fingertips within a few minutes of narrowing down a search.
Three more hotels, including another Howard Johnson operation, share one large parking lot just a few minutes down the road near Bellmawr and the New Jersey Turnpike. Some of the pictures included in posts on backpage.com appear to show door key readers commonly used at hotels and motels.
This is the last stop on the block. You get to a phase of where you're isolated from society.
Earlier this month, a Runnemede man who stopped by a room at the Howard Johnson Inn for mere minutes was arrested alongside four females during an anti-prostitution operation. The man was stopped by police for a motor vehicle violation and asked about his "short stay at the room."
Further investigation revealed that the man allegedly paid a woman inside of the room for prostitution services. Officers then went to the woman's room and found three more women, narcotics and drug paraphernalia in "plain view."
"I believe that this type of activity is occurring at many hotels along the Black Horse Pike and White Horse Pike in other jurisdictions," Harkins said. "However, the Gloucester Township police philosophy is to share information with our community, which I believe has the appearance that it is occurring here more than other places, when in fact it is occurring all over the place, they may not be reporting it as often as we do."
Back at the Howard Johnson hotel parking lot, the Mount Holly man listens intently as he's brought up to speed about all the recent criminal and police activity at the hotel.
"I was in my house until I was thrown out," he said when asked about where to go to use. "Wawa was huge for me," he said, pointing across the parking lot to the busy convenience store that was in plain view.
"It just seems like right now, this is a huge problem," he said of drug abuse among young adults that transcends social or economic classes. A friend of his, clean for 15 months, recently died.
There was one thing he didn't want to talk about on or off the record — why he was at the hotel. About 20 minutes after pulling into the complex, the man got back into his car, made a right onto the Black Horse Pike and disappeared into traffic.
Woman Pleads Guilty To Influencing Witness In Child Sex Trafficking Case
Prosecutors argued Naquana James, 20, tried to pay off a witness to keep her from testifying against a fellow co-defendant.
By KRISTAL DIXON (Patch Staff)
June 18, 2015
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An Alpharetta woman has entered a guilty plea of trying to help pay off a witness in a child sex trafficking case.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds on Thursday announced Naquana James, 20, of Alpharetta and Mariah C. Rutledge, 19, of Sandy Springs pleaded guilty to charges of influencing a witness in connection to the trafficking of a 17-year-old victim.
The man at the center of the case, Martez Martell Fuque, 23, who has aliases of “Diablo,” “Redwings Diablo,” and “King Joffey Joe,” also pleaded guilty on Thursday to 11 charges, including trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, pimping a person under 18 years of age, sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy to commit influencing a witness and influencing a witness.
Trial began Monday for all three defendants. The guilty pleas came on the fourth day of what was expected to be a two-week trial.
Fuque admitted that in the spring of 2012, he trafficked a 17-year-old girl at the Cobb Galleria Inn in Smyrna, which is now a Holiday Inn, and took photos of her genitalia. The FBI was alerted of the incident after the victim called 911 from Chamblee and reported that she had been trafficked in Cobb County.
In March of this year, while in custody awaiting trial, Fuque contacted James and Rutledge by phone to discuss paying off the victim to keep her from testifying against him, and both women took action to wire money to the victim, who now lives outside of Georgia.
The victim was present in court today for the pleas, but was “too emotional to make a statement,” Reynolds’ office said.
Assistant District Attorney Susan Treadaway, who prosecuted the case, said that the young woman “now realizes she is not defined by the abuse she suffered at the hands of these accused,” and “is beginning to feel validated as a human being.”
Cobb Superior Court Judge C. LaTain Kell told the victim that “a significant wrong” had been committed against her, and that while the trial process has been difficult for her, the whole purpose was to see justice done.
Judge Kell then sentenced Fuque to 30 years, with 15 years to serve in custody, and the rest on probation, and fined him $10,000 for influencing a witness. Fuque has a prior conviction for pimping. He was represented by Marietta attorney Rick Christian.
James was sentenced to 12 years, with five years to serve in custody and the rest on probation, and fined $10,000 for influencing a witness. She was represented by Marietta attorney John Allen Hildebrand.
Judge Kell sentenced Rutledge to 10 years, with 12 months to serve in custody and the rest on probation. She was granted First Offender status. Marietta attorney Lee Fudger represented Ms. Rutledge.
The FBI Child Exploitation Task Forces in Atlanta and Ohio and the Cobb District Attorney’s Office investigated the case.