We monitor and fact-check media coverage of human trafficking and share the top cases with you from each week. A broad view of what is happening across the country can be translated into action, allowing us to collectively change the system and the public narrative.
Illinois: Chicago brothers accused of illegally bringing 2 Mexican immigrants into US, forcing them to work construction – The brothers illegally required payment for visas to work for their construction business, then forced the victims to work 7 days per week for 12-15 hours per day, deducted money for “rent”, and threatened them if they did not comply.
New York: Federal authorities bust Queens-based gang that sex trafficked, brutally beat Chinese women – This New York-based ring forced Chinese migrant women to perform commercial sex in hotels and apartments across the country. The victims were regularly moved from state to state. The perpetrators believed that they would not be charged because their victims were undocumented and providing commercial sex.
New York: Brewster cop pleads guilty in sex trafficking case – The former officer tipped off and protected a sex trafficking ring from 2010-2018 in exchange for free commercial sex.Louisiana: US Marshals’ operation recovers 16 missing children and uncovers allegations of sex trafficking, agency says
Maryland: Man pleads guilty to kidnapping in ‘heinous’ sex trafficking conspiracy on Eastern Shore – A Maryland man was sentenced to 17-years for sex trafficking a 22-year-old woman. He promised to help her become financially secure and regain custody of her child, then became violent. An officer noticed the victim was in distress and separated her from her traffickers. The defendant threatened the victim, saying he would “hot batch” her, or ensure she was given a toxic dose of heroin laced with battery acid, a tactic to hide a murder as an overdose.
Ohio: Cincinnati man sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for sex-trafficking teen – The perpetrator used drugs as a way to control his teenage victim.
Florida: Lehigh Acres man found guilty in case involving sex-trafficking, sexual contact with girls – A tip about child sexual abuse led to the offender’s sex trafficking of minors activity to be discovered.
Florida: Delray Beach man pleads guilty to multiple counts of sex trafficking, faces life in prison – This trafficker preyed on vulnerable women and girls, specifically targeting those who were involved in the foster and group home system or were working at local strip clubs with other violent traffickers. He set up a website promoting himself as “helping victims of human trafficking” for free and listed his cell-phone as the contact number. Police identified at least 75 victims, with 15 willing to testify, but victims stated there were “hundreds” of victims they personally witnessed over the years under his control.
Georgia: ‘Operation Blooming Onion’: 2 Brunswick men sentenced to prison on forced labor trafficking charges – These labor traffickers illegally charged over 500 Central American farm laborers for their visas, brought them to the United States, confiscated their identification documents and routinely threatened them while they worked in substandard conditions. One trafficker kidnapped one of these female migrants, trafficking her for personal sexual servitude.
Minnesota: GOP strategist Anton Lazzaro appears on federal child sex trafficking charges with new defense team
New York: Sarah Lawrence Cult Leader Convicted of Trafficking and Extortion – A middle-aged man
Arkansas: Little Rock man found guilty on federal sex trafficking, child porn charges – The trafficker approached a 19-year-old victim after she had been kicked out of her home, offering her a safe place to stay. He lived with and was sex trafficking multiple victims, including one minor.
Iowa: Manchester Man Sentenced to Prison for Sex Trafficking – This trafficker targeted vulnerable women and girls, coercing them into commercial sex. He used drugs, bogus debts, and blackmail with recordings of sex acts to control his victims.
Tennessee: Months-long human trafficking investigation results in Metro Nashville police SWAT raid
Illinois: Illinois man guilty of child sexual trafficking in Lafayette – Officers spotted the underage victim in an idling car outside of a motel, when questioned the victim described being sex trafficked across multiple states.
Nebraska: LPD: 17-year-old girl safe following report of being human trafficked – The victim was groomed over social media by a truck driver who then sex trafficked her in truck stops across multiple states.
North Carolina: 60-year-old Durham man charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, police say – The trafficker was exploiting multiple adult women while keeping one in personal sexual servitude.
Utah: Man, 29, arrested in Riverton after alleged abuse, trafficking of 14-year-old girl – The accused approached and groomed his victim via Snapchat. The girl reported being given drugs via a water bottle cap, causing her to fall in and out of consciousness. Her mother was able to track her via her cell phone, located her with the perpetrator and brought her immediately to the hospital. The perpetrator was being investigated for at least one other similar crime.
Georgia: Two men arrested on child sex trafficking charges – Investigators posed as an underage girl when they learned of children being targeted by pedophiles in a chatroom.
Oklahoma: Oklahoma man pleads no contest to human trafficking charges – Police identified this long-time sex trafficking operation based on a tip.
Florida: Operation April Fools nets 22 Marion County men accused of soliciting sex from kids online
Maryland: Baltimore man admits to sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl he met near group home – The trafficker recruited his victim as she sat on the steps of her group home.
New York: Missing NY teen escaped sex traffickers, mom says – A minor who had been missing for six months reported her own abduction and sex trafficking at a New York Police Department. She said she was able to escape but had been held near two other victims. She may have been groomed on “a popular basketball app”.
Massachusetts: Massachusetts man arrested after officials say missing child was being sex trafficked – The trafficker groomed a vulnerable teen with a history of running away then sex trafficked her.
Massachusetts: Feds: Boston man ran sex trafficking hub out of Mass and Cass tent – The trafficker recruited and trafficked three victims out of a large tent, also trafficking two of the victims out of state.
Alabama: Second arrest in Mobile child sex trafficking case
Tennessee: 3-Arrested in LaVergne / Antioch Area on Human Trafficking Indictment -.A victim advocacy group provided a tip to police regarding a human trafficking operation. On investigation, the police arrested the three traffickers and identified two victims who were living in the home with them.
National: Public health org must face Cuban doctors’ trafficking claims – A group of Cuban doctors alleging they were labor trafficked in Brazil are able to pursue charges in U.S. courts because financial transactions were made via American banks.
Northern Mariana Islands: Amicus brief urges 9th Circuit to affirm judgment against IPI – A court granted $5.9 million in a damages in a default judgement to victims of labor trafficking. One of the companies is seeking an appeal, asking that the ruling be thrown out.
Global: Revealing global risks of labor abuse and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – This report describes in-depth research on labor trafficking in fishing.
Florida: Advocates for farmworker safety to march in Florida– The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and other organizations are pressuring companies to join the “Fair Food Program”, where companies only buy from farms that are inspected and held to higher standards to try and protect workers and prevent human trafficking.
California: Local companies facing penalties for exploiting Mexican national workers – Three customs warehouse companies were found to have been exploiting migrant workers, including paying them $2.50 per hour instead of the minimum $15, and not providing overtime. The offending companies were required to pay $10,000-$30,000 fines, which critics argue is a tiny fraction of what they gained by exploiting workers and will not be a deterrent.
Idaho: Mexican Workers Advance Human Trafficking Claims Against Dairy – Idaho-based Funk Dairy has been accused of labor trafficking Mexican veterinarians as farm laborers, using “bait and switch” tactics where they were recruited as “animal scientists” but required to work as general laborers and threatened if they complained. The veterinarians were listed as “outside help”, “calves”, and “milker” in their internal records. They were housed in unsanitary conditions and female victims were watched to ensure they did not have visitors at the employer provided housing.
Ohio: Oasis Spa suspected of human trafficking – An Ohio IMB has been closed after police investigated an address and saw workers did not ever exit the building. These Chinese victims were illegally charged for visas and funneled through San Diego, CA or Flushing, New York. The officers enlisted two Chinese translators and did not charge the victims.
Colorado: Police bust alleged Denver-area sex trafficking ring after report from surprised spa customer seeking massage – Our Denver partners have once again identified a sex trafficking ring, closing three parlors and charging the owners with 19 and 15 felony counts.
New Mexico: New Mexico massage parlor owner facing prostitution charges – The owner of a group of massage businesses has been charged with money laundering and promoting prostitution. Workers seem to have been living on-site, and there seems to be strong evidence to suggest this was a human trafficking case.
Colorado: Colorado Springs massage parlor owner found guilty of keeping place of prostitution
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Maryland: Two women from Edgewater massage parlor accused of prostitution – Two Chinese women, one of whom was not a state resident and was listed as being “from Flushing, New York” despite being an “employee”, were arrested and charged with prostitution and were both publicly identified despite multiple red flags for trafficking.
Texas: Undercover massage parlor sting lands two behind bars – Names and photos were shared of potential victims in massage parlor prostitution stings, with no indication that these were investigated as a potential trafficking situation.
New York: 2 Women Arrested In Raid Of Illegal Commack Massage Parlor: Police – Two potential trafficking victims were identified and charged with fire code violations. The potential victims were allegedly from “Flushing, New York” despite that being a forty-minute drive from the less expensive area of Commack where the parlor was located. There is no indication this was investigated as a potential trafficking violation.
Georgia: Three charged in massage parlor sting – Two potential victims were charged with crimes, while the owner was charged with keeping a house of prostitution. Again, there is no indication this was investigated as a potential human trafficking case.
Texas: Woman sentenced in human trafficking/child porn case – A trafficker was arrested and charged with trafficking a minor, he clearly was promoting commercial sex with multiple adult women as well, including the mother of his child who is being sentenced for child pornography for her involvement. She was initially charged with human trafficking, though a grand jury declined to indict her. Texas-based organization Lone Star Justice Alliance regularly assists survivors of trafficking in Texas with vacatur of victims’ convictions incurred while under control of traffickers.
Florida: St. Petersburg police major is ‘unsung hero’ of human trafficking victims – Maj. Nathaly Patterson talks about her experience with the Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force and what she’s learned about human trafficking.
Pennsylvania: Lancaster County DA’s Human Trafficking Task Force focusing on helping victims, targeting sex buyers
Ohio: Mercy Health, Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office open human trafficking prevention services
Florida: Healing through art: Sarasota groups work to empower trafficking survivors
Maryland: Maryland may finally protect child sex-trafficking victims from prosecution – Maryland is one of the last states to complete the crucial step of enacting “safe harbor” laws, ensuring minors cannot be charged with prostitution.
Texas: U.S. district judge questions Texas Rangers’ motives, wants a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations at The Refuge for DMST
National: Federal Online Sex Trafficking Law Survives First Amendment Look – A district court has ruled that FOSTA, a federal law that allows victims of sex trafficking to sue sites that knowingly facilitated their trafficking, does not violate the first amendment.
California: District Attorney Gascón Unveils Human Trafficking Diversion Program
California: Bill To Impose Civil Penalties on Hotel Owners Over Human Trafficking Passed in Senate
Global: Crackdown on ‘Lover Boy’ Trafficking Scam in France and Romania – A ring of international traffickers that groomed vulnerable women seeking stability and affection only to force victims into commercial sex.
New York: Judge upholds Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking conviction
Colorado: Bill to protect sex workers reporting crimes passes the Colorado House unanimously – A commercial sex provider can no longer be charged with prostitution in connection to reporting a violent crime in Colorado.
Colorado: Colorado legislature passes bill to crack down on illicit massage parlors Colorado counties can now require special licenses for massage work.
Mississippi: Human trafficking, child exploitation bills pass unanimously – Police can now secure search warrants in Mississippi “…upon oral testimony for investigation of sex offenses against children involving a computer and other computer crimes.” and victims of human trafficking can civilly sue those who knowingly benefited from their trafficking.
Louisiana: After prostitution sting on web of massage parlors, Denham Springs sets new rules
Australia: International Engagement Strategy on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
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