• December 14, 2022
  • forgingfreed0m
  • HT News
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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. 
Arizona: Arizona polygamist cult leader Samuel Bateman had 20 wives, most under age 15 – A leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints is accused of sex trafficking, including “…incest, group sex acts involving adults and children– some as young as 9 — and child sex trafficking.” He also offered up his daughters, including one preteen, to three of his adult followers, insisting that “God will fix their bodies and put the membrane back in their body. I’ve never had more confidence in doing his will. It’s all out of love.”California: San Francisco couple charged with human labor trafficking – A couple is charged with labor trafficking their Filipina nanny after initially saying she’d work there for three months but kept her for 2 1/2 years. She worked long hours seven days per week caring for their disabled child, cleaning the house and other forms of forced labor. The traffickers kept her documents and did not allow her to leave the property or use a cell phone. She was forced to live in an unheated storage room. A neighbor, realizing something was wrong, called the police.California: Five people arrested in human trafficking sting – Operation Home for the Holidays netted five potential traffickers while 21 potential victims were offered services and not arrestedFlorida: Human sex trafficking charges dropped against 41-year-old man – A 41-year-old man who was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking has had his charges dropped and was released, citing the victim becoming less cooperative and “new information.” He was originally arrested when police found him screaming at and chasing the potential victim through a motel parking lot. The victim described a typical sex trafficking situation and multiple commercial sex ads he’d posted of her.Florida: Human Trafficking among new charges in child sex investigation – A woman initially arrested for sexual abuse of a child under age twelve along with a man has now been charged with sex trafficking after further investigation.Indiana: Noblesville massage parlor owner arrested amid accusations of unsolicited ‘fondling’ – The owner of a massage parlor has been arrested for prostitution and promotion of prostitution. No employees were arrested, and the investigation is ongoing. Minnesota: Fargo man charged with sex trafficking, other crimes in northwest Minnesota – A 39-year-old man has been arrested for sex trafficking a woman. He allowed the contents of his phone to be downloaded, showing abusive text messages and threats to the victim, his control over all the money she made, and commercial sex ads he’d placed. He has been charged with 19 counts. New Jersey: Feds bring more trafficking charges against man held since April 2021 – A New Jersey man arrested for sex trafficking a minor in April has been charged with two other counts after investigators discovered two other impacted victims. He was already registered as a sex offender for sexually assaulting a thirteen-year-old in 2017.Ohio: Grand Jury Indicts Former ICE Officer with Federal Crimes Related to Sex Trafficking and Assault – A former DHS officer has been indicted for sex trafficking and sexual assault after he sexually assaulted at least two women under his care through the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.Tennessee: Domestic violence investigation leads to human trafficking arrest in Brentwood – Tennessee police responded to a domestic violence call over Thanksgiving weekend when a man assaulted a woman at a gas station. Officers recognized signs of human trafficking, eventually learning she was a sex trafficking victim who had been exploited for years across the United States. A detective stated, “The victim has described that she had numerous contacts with law enforcement across the United States and, unfortunately, they were not able to see those signs…The victim was trafficked across at least 50 cities in the USA, across at least a dozens of states in the USA, from North Carolina to California from Florida to the northern states”Wisconsin: Green Bay man charged with horrific acts, including human trafficking – A 28-year-old man has been arrested for sex trafficking, listing two trafficking victims (including his ex-wife) and four other victims. Multiple articles note the news agency has chosen not to share all of the descriptions of his crime due to their deeply disturbing nature but included “The complaint alleges Moore severed one victim’s ear. With another victim, he reportedly ran over her dog because she failed to receive payment for sex.”Virginia: DOJ: 4 people, 2 from Williamsburg, charged in human trafficking conspiracy – Four people have been charged with labor trafficking after forcing Central American migrants to work in their laundry business, sometimes using violence to control the workers. The traffickers said the victims were “in debt” for fraudulent papers. One victim was brought at 13 years old and forced to work overnight while attending school.
Alabama: Alabama Defendant Sentenced to 60 Years and Ordered to Pay Over $950,000 in Restitution for Sex Trafficking Scheme Involving Forced Prostitution – A man had been sentenced to 60 years in prison and ordered to pay $950,000 in restitution to five sex trafficking victims. He targeted vulnerable adults and teens struggling with heroin addiction, then used heroin withdrawal symptoms, threats against family members, blackmail, and violence to control them. He kept control of all of their identity documents and credit cards.Colorado: Woman found guilty of pimping and keeping a place of prostitution south of Colorado Springs – A woman who denied all wrongdoing in promoting commercial sex through an IMB and chose to go to trial has been found guilty of all charges.DC: DC Man Admits To Trafficking Homeless Teen – A 31-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sex trafficking a 15-year-old homeless girl. He threatened to deny her food, shelter, and transportation if the teen refused to cooperate. She eventually called police.Maryland: Baltimore man sentenced to 15 years in prison for sex trafficking 3 women – A man who sex-trafficked two women in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area and attempted to sex traffic a third has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after accepting a plea bargain. He recruited at least one victim via social media, tattooed his street names on another, and used a combination of drugs, financial abuse, and violence to control his victims.New York: NXIVM ‘Cult’ Founder Keith Raniere Loses Appeal of 120-Year Sentence Following Sex Trafficking Convictions – The convicted sex trafficker argued that receiving “anything of value” did not apply to his situation, the judges of the Second Circuit of Appeals unanimously disagreed.Washington: Spokane Man Gets 27 Year Prison Sentence for Child Sex Trafficking – A  35-year-old man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to register as a sex trafficker after sex trafficking a 6-year-old girl. He has also been ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution. He met a woman on the dating site Plenty of Fish and arranged sexual acts with a minor she had access to in exchange for shelter, cash, and a new pair of Nike sneakers. The woman received 23 years in jail for her role in the sex trafficking of the child. 
California: 14 Arrested In Temecula Sex-Trafficking Sting – Temecula County arrested 14 buyers who responded to commercial sex ads posted by undercover officers.Connecticut: 9 men arrested in stings after Hartford prostitution complaints, police say – After receiving complaints from the community, 9 buyers have been arrested during a prostitution sting in Connecticut.Ohio: Feds indict man nabbed by Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force – A man who engaged in sexual conversations with an undercover he believed was 15-year-old girl was indicted on federal coercion and enticement charges. He is one of 17 suspects arrested during an operation.
Colorado: Denver meat processing plant employees vote to strike over JBS labor practices – Meat packers have gone on strike in Denver, saying the factory has made unnegotiated changes and has treated workers inappropriately.Pennsylvania: McDonald’s operator accused of child labor violations involving more than 100 teens– A large McDonald’s franchisee was requiring 101 minors to work at illegal hours (more than three hours on a school day or after 7 PM). Some were also performing hazardous work. This is part of a larger pattern of McDonald’s franchisees breaking labor laws across the United States.Tennessee: Revamped Economic Crimes Unit targets worker exploitation –  The Shelby County District Attorney has revived the Economic Crimes Unit, focused on “wage theft, job misclassification and other forms of worker exploitation.” This is a step forward in having a dedicated team prosecuting labor traffickers in and around Memphis.
Connecticut: Sex sting leads to drug bust – Three people were arrested, bringing a woman to an undercover officer who answered a commercial sex ad posing as a buyer. The women had the majority of drugs on them. While the man was charged with “promoting prostitution,” it is unclear if this was investigated as a potential human trafficking situation.Michigan: Three women charged with running prostitution ring at Michigan massage parlor – Three women have been charged with running a prostitution ring out of a single IMB. There is no indication this was investigated as a potential human trafficking operation or that only the owner is being held accountable.Minnesota: Pimp accused of Selling a Woman for Sex in St. Cloud – A woman has been arrested for trafficking another woman. While she was onsite and set up ads, it is unclear if officers have investigated to see if she is also being exploited by lead trafficker.South Carolina: SC man, woman indicted on sex trafficking charges– A couple has been arrested for sex trafficking five victims, three counts of witness tampering, and one count of a felon possessing a firearm. It’s unclear if the charged woman was also being exploited and acting as a lieutenant. Both face life in prison if convicted.
DC: ICF Wins $34M in New DOL Research Services Contracts – ICF International was awarded $34M in research contracts from the Department of Labor focused on better understanding human trafficking.DC: Senators urge investigation into alleged trafficking of underage border crossers – A third-party organization, Project Veritas, made claims that the Department of Health and Human Services knowingly placed unaccompanied minors with human traffickers, and Senators are calling for an investigation.Florida: Thelwell Honored for Her Commitment to Fighting Human Trafficking,Child  Exploitation and Elder  Abuse – Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Thelwell received “Prosecutor of the Year” for her work addressing crimes targeting vulnerable victims, including human trafficking.Florida: Sex Trafficking Victim’s Text to Dad Leads to Her Rescue in Miami, Suspect’s Arrest – A twenty-one-year-old victim escaped her sex trafficker after she texted her father her location and said she was in trouble. The man had recruited her online but was forcing her to provide commercial sex and work at an exotic dancing club while taking all of her money. He lived with three other women, and she witnessed him being physically violent to them. Florida: Joel Greenberg sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking, other crimes – The former Seminole county tax registrar received 11 years for stalking a political rival, stealing identities via the state systems he was given access to for his role, and sex trafficking a minor. Greenberg has cooperated with prosecutors and names multiple members of a larger criminal network, including sitting U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, though only four have been indicted.Georgia: Carr: Two Indicted for Allegedly Trafficking 16-Year-Old Female in DeKalb County – Two men arrested for sex trafficking a 14-year-old have now been charged with sex trafficking another minor after further investigation. Louisiana: Human Trafficking task force review data and discuss new ways to crack down –  A Human Trafficking Task Force seeks to identify issues standing in the way of effectively addressing human trafficking and educate professionals in their state.Minnesota: Last defendant in Thai sex trafficking ring pleads guilty to federal charges in Minnesota  – The last member of a nearly 40 person sex trafficking ring where hundreds of Thai women were sex trafficked in the United States for over 7 years has pled guilty to sex trafficking charges. The ring told victims they had to pay off $40,000 to $60,000 in debt. She faces up to life in prison at her upcoming sentencing. Nevada: When a brothel operates next door in Las Vegas – This article discusses residential brothels, usually brothels hidden in unremarkable houses where a victim is kept. This Chinese victim was forced to provide commercial sexual acts to hundreds of men until a concerned citizen seeing the constant churn of cars, called police suspecting drug distribution.North Carolina: Sex Trafficking Survivor Files Lawsuit Against Red Roof Inns – A sex-trafficking victim is suing Red Roof Inn, a publicly traded company because staff at the chain looked the other way as 4-10 boyers exploited her daily.Spain: Spanish government presents bill to fight human trafficking –  Spain’s government is proposing landmark changes to how human trafficking cases are handled, including offering free and personalized legal support to potential victims and allowing them to seek assistance without formally accusing a trafficker. This is a key issue for victims who often struggle with confronting traffickers who terrorized them.South Dakota: AG Mark Vargo announces hiring of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator and a Human Trafficking Coordinator – Allison Morrisette, an enrolled tribal member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation, has been appointed as the first Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator. Mary Beth Holzwarth, CEO of Endeavor 52, was named as the state’s Human Trafficking Coordinator. Texas: Rescued trafficked victim: It takes 5 to 13 years to buy freedom –  Police are sharing a letter written by a sex trafficking victim of an illicit massage business, outlining the trafficking she faced to a family member. The patterns she described are typical, especially in IMBs.Virgin Islands: Jeffrey Epstein estate settles Virgin Islands sex trafficking case for over $105 million – The U.S. Virgin Islands has successfully recovered $105 million from Jeffrey Epstein’s estate to try and address damages where he destroyed priceless historical structures, damaged the environment, and misrepresented his activities to get over $80 M in tax breaks.
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