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.
California: San Mateo massage parlor busted for prostitution – A California IMB was raided, and all employees (including the owner) were offered support services for human trafficking survivors. After the investigation, police arrested the owner and charged her with maintaining a brothel.
Florida: Miami Beach Doctor Arrested on Human Trafficking, Soliciting Sex Activity With a Minor Charges – A 68-year-old pain medicine doctor was arrested on multiple sex trafficking charges concerning exploiting 16-year-old and 17-year-old victims he met on Tinder. One of the girl’s mothers tracked the girls to the defendant’s apartment using GPS. After the victims were removed from his home by the police and he was informed the 17-year-old was underage, he continued to message her and request commercial sex.
Georgia: 4 arrested in GBI sex trafficking, child porn sting – Three men were arrested for trafficking of persons for sexual servitude in the excellently named Operation Threat Level Midnight, and a fourth was arrested on child pornography charges.
Kansas: Wichita man indicted for sex trafficking – A 30-year-old man was indicted on a charge of sex trafficking after coercing a woman into providing commercial sex.
Kentucky: Police: 25-year-old crashed into police vehicle during human trafficking arrest – A 25-year-old man who had previously attempted to buy commercial sex from pre-teens crashed into a police vehicle while fleeing another arrest and charge. He thought he was meeting a 14-year-old for commercial sex and had attempted to groom a 12-year-old into commercial sex in March. He is “…now charged with Attempted Human Trafficking, Use of a Minor in a Sexual Performance, Evading Police by motor vehicle, Evading Police on foot, assault of a police officer, wanton endangerment and criminal mischief. All of those are felony charges.”
Louisiana: Man charged with promoting prostitution after Baton Rouge massage parlor sting – Louisiana police investigated a network of 7 IMBs, eventually arresting a man who was paid to transport potential victims and to serve as a liaison with the Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy. It is unclear if potential victims were offered support services or if other members of the human trafficking network have been identified.
Michigan: Human trafficking, sexual assault charges issued against Sault Ste. Marie man – A 30-year-old man has been charged with both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, as well as a range of methamphetamine-related and assault charges. He used methamphetamine to control vulnerable, addicted women, coercing them to have commercial sex and recording the exploitation.
New York: Bloods Gang Members Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Illegal Drug Distribution on Long Island – Two brothers have been indicted for sex trafficking multiple vulnerable women. The pair used their victims’ addiction against them, controlling them with access to illegal drugs and sexual and physical violence. Police say one defendant forced a victim to drink his blood after claiming to be HIV positive.
New York: D.A. Bragg Announces Takedown of Sex Trafficking Ring – Including A Greyhound Employee – Three men have been arrested for running a sex trafficking ring that targeted vulnerable women at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. They are accused of recruiting women who had nowhere to go from the bus station with promises of shelter, then using sexual and physical violence to control the victims.
Texas: Human trafficking arrest made in Abilene -The search for a missing minor from Lubbock led to the arrest of two men for sex trafficking, one of whom was already wanted for human trafficking. The victim was recovered and provided services.
Utah: 12 arrested in child exploitation sting that began during All-Star Weekend – Utah law enforcement agencies worked with the FBI to arrest 12 men seeking to sexually exploit minors. This is connected to reducing demand during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City.
Virginia: 9 arrested in online chatting operation bust – Nine men were arrested for attempting to buy commercial sex from undercover officers posing as minors online. All were charged with “attempted solicitation of prostitution with a minor” and “frequenting a bawdy place.”
Washington: Two charged in alleged prostitution scheme based in Wenatchee massage parlors – A Tacoma couple has been charged with leading organized crime, money laundering, and promoting prostitution in connection with running five IMBs in the region. The male owner was arrested in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2019, along with 10 women in the IMBs. During the prior arrest in Louisiana, the male owner was charged with “letting a premise for prostitution,” and potential victims were named and charged with prostitution. This pattern of traffickers continuing to offend is why Collective Liberty trains police departments on effectively charging traffickers and not criminalizing victims.
Arkansas: Arkansas man sentenced to life for sex trafficking 6-year-old girl – A man who sex-trafficked a 6-year-old girl has been sentenced to life in prison. Police uncovered the incident when the child was brought to a hospital, and medical providers identified she had multiple sexually transmitted diseases. The child described being raped numerous times in a hotel room by two men, and a picture on the wall was used to identify the hotel and see the victim’s mother had rented the room. Both defendants tested positive for the specific strains of diseases the victim contracted, and they admitted to the sex crimes, preventing the child from having to endure a trial. The child has been removed from her mother’s custody.
Georgia: Clayton County man is 4th convicted of sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl – A 31-year-old man was found guilty on four counts of trafficking persons for sexual servitude and one count of cruelty to children in the first degree. Three other men were already convicted in related charges for sex trafficking a 15-year-old victim in 2018. The victim had been sex trafficked out of two hotels.
New York: Nurse from Albany Med pleads guilty to role in sex trafficking ring – A nurse has pled guilty to her role in helping advertise and operate a sex trafficking ring that exploited at least seven adult and minor sex victims. The nurse, who was not commercially exploited, provided money, a vehicle, and relayed messages from the trafficker while he was in prison to victims. She says she was unaware that some of the victims were underage.
Texas: Another guilty of trafficking women in cantina backroom – A man who assisted his mother in sex trafficking women and one minor in a Houston cantina pled guilty to sex trafficking and possession of child pornography. He served as a violent enforcer for the human trafficking network, threatening and assaulting victims who tried to resist.
Virginia: 3 plead guilty to money laundering in connection with Hampton Roads massage parlor prostitution case – Three people have pled guilty to money laundering charges for sex trafficking victims in IMBs within Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. The three “agreed to forfeit four vehicles, over $130,000, numerous items of jewelry, a gold bar; as well as three personal residences.”
Michigan: Human trafficking, sexual assault charges issued against Sault Ste. Marie man – A 30-year-old man has been charged with both sex trafficking and labor trafficking as well as a range of methamphetamine-related and assault charges. He used methamphetamine to control vulnerable, addicted women, coercing them to have commercial sex and recording the exploitation.
Pennsylvania: Arrests made in third human trafficking enforcement operation in Cumberland County – Cumberland County arrested eight men for attempting to buy sex; this is their third operation targeting demand for commercial sex, excellently named Operation Threat Level Midnight.
USA: Biden Administration Plans Crackdown on Migrant Child Labor – After a surge of identified child labor violations, the administration has pledged to crack down on those who violate child labor laws, and immigration systems that fail to protect migrant children through a range of efforts. “Migrant children often use false identification and find jobs through staffing agencies that do not verify their Social Security numbers. Companies have escaped fines in the past by blaming those agencies or other subcontractors when violations are discovered.”
USA: Unfair competition under the USMCA: The case of migrant workers on US farms – The Brookings Institution shares research on the desperate situation of farm workers in the US. “Critically, U.S. immigration law is structured in ways that coerce migrants into continuing to work despite these violations of their rights, creating a climate ripe for forced labor. Undocumented workers can be deported at any time. Migrants on temporary visas can only remain in the country if they work for the firm that sponsored them. If they are fired for reporting abuse, they are instantly deportable. Many carry crushing debt from the recruitment process, and are well aware that those who protest will be blacklisted from future opportunities. It is little surprise that few speak up.”
Arkansas: Arkansas governor signs bill rolling back child labor protections – Arkansas removed a law requiring minors under the age of 16 to verify their age and have signed consent from a parent for workers. As child labor violations climb, this removes an important protection used to prevent child labor trafficking.
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New York: Woman Arrested In Raid Of St. James Massage Parlor: Police – A woman was arrested and charged with prostitution and operating a massage business without a license. The potential victim was named, and numerous fire code violations were found, there is no indication the situation was investigated as a potential human trafficking situation.
Virginia: Sex trafficking arrests made after an investigation at Hanover home – A man and woman were arrested and charged with commercial sex trafficking and child neglect. The woman was also named and charged with prostitution, it is unclear if she was treated as a potential victim.
USA: Sen. Gary Peters introduces bill to support human trafficking victims – The Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has proposed to make a temporary program permanent, supporting survivors of human trafficking through the Homeland Security Investigations Victim Assistance Program and providing mental health support for HSI professionals who experience stress and trauma by interacting with these difficult cases.
California: No, letting police arrest California victims of human trafficking is not a good idea – An op-ed discussing criminalization of loitering as an ineffective way to combat human trafficking.
Florida: Human trafficking survivors raise concerns about Central Florida safehouse, lack of state regulation – Human Trafficking survivors are calling for review of Lifeboat Project, a nonprofit that claims to support survivors of human trafficking. Survivors claim that shelter was provided but other support was inconsistent, and they were expected to share traumatic stories about their past to benefit the nonprofit and felt revictimized and exploited. Florida has no regulations on how adult human trafficking safehouses.
Missouri: House gives initial approval for stricter sex trafficking laws – A bill to strengthen anti-human trafficking laws has passed the House. It raises the age of a victim of “enticing a child” from 15 to 17.
Nevada: Bills crack down on profiting from child sex workers, luring students – Nevada is considering a bill that could impose penalties on anyone deemed to be living off of the proceeds of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Some anti-trafficking efforts support the effort to try and ensure traffickers face harsher sentences, while others are concerned the bill could be used to harm non-traffickers, including other vulnerable roommates of youth engaged in survival sex. Another bill considers requiring all offenders who solicit a child for commercial sex to undergo a psychosexual evaluation and be considered at low risk to re-offend before being granted probation. Others would require all juvenile offenders to be screened for CSE and would make someone employed at a school communicating sexually with a student a felony.
North Carolina: Human trafficking conviction upheld – A former truck driver who argued there was not enough evidence that he sex trafficked multiple women lost his appeal. The court ruled “… The evidence, taken as a whole, shows Defendant provided and sold the other women drugs and coerced or encouraged them to engage in prostitution to repay Defendant for the drugs and hotel rooms.”
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