• March 29, 2023
  • forgingfreed0m
  • HT News

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. 

Alabama: Limestone County man facing human trafficking, rape charges – A 20-year-old man has been charged with human trafficking and sex crimes after an investigation into the sexual abuse of a child between the age of 12 and 16. He is being held without bond. 
Alabama: Human trafficking arrest in Leeds – A 61-year-old man has been arrested after police received tips he was soliciting minors for commercial sex, kicking off a multi-month investigation. He was arrested after attempting to meet with a minor for commercial sex. He is a licensed respiratory therapist who worked at a local hospital.
California: Police rescue San Mateo County teen suspected of being sex trafficked in Pinole – An 18-year-old man has been arrested after police found a missing 16-year-old girl who had run away after following a trail of leads. The victim said her trafficker planned to move her out of state, and the offender admitted to sex trafficking the victim.
Georgia: 14-year-old girl drugged, sex-trafficked for nearly 2 weeks rescued at Gwinnett Walmart, police say – A sex-trafficking victim who was sex trafficked out of two apartments in Georgia got help after talking to officers in a Wal-Mart, leading to the arrest of four men. The victim was able to help law enforcement find a commercial sex ad with her pictures and explained that she was drugged, tied up, and commercially exploited. Police are looking for a fifth man.
Georgia: Georgia man arrested in connection with sex trafficking case from Jan. in McCracken Co.– A 42-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a case involving the sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl; he “will be charged with sodomy third degree and sexual abuse first degree.”
Indiana: Police find missing teen ‘out of it’ in Kokomo man’s home – A 53-year-old man was arrested after Tell City Police contacted Kokomo police about a missing 14-year-old boy, and he was located at the man’s home and taken to a local hospital. The man’s devices were seized, and child sexual abuse material was identified. He has been charged with promoting child sexual trafficking, a level 3 felony. He is expected to face additional charges.
Kentucky: Suspect in Kentucky human trafficking case arrested – A 35-year-old man who was wanted on a human trafficking charge, as well as violation of an emergency protective order in a nearby county was pulled over for driving with a cracked windshield and arrested. He has now been charged with operating on a suspended or revoked license.
Kentucky: Two people arrested in connection to Human Trafficking case – Two men were arrested after the Harlan County Deputy Sheriff received a report that a man was attempting to buy explicit photographs of an underage girl. The investigation uncovered two men involved in selling explicit images of the minor, one directly sex trafficking her and one attempting to buy evidence of her exploitation. They were arrested for promoting a human trafficking victim under 18 years old and human trafficking commercial sex activity. The case is still under investigation. 
Minnesota: Woman testifies Anton Lazzaro gave her cash, gifts when she brought teens to him – Nineteen months after his arrest, a 32-year-old man accused of sex trafficking multiple underage girls has begun his federal trial. A co-defendant, an 18-year-old woman he received commercial sex from, said he instructed her to recruit “broken girls”, ideally petite, on social media so he could sexually exploit them.
Missouri: Man charged with sex trafficking, officials seek more info from public – A 38-year-old man has been arrested and charged with 8 felonies, including sex trafficking of a child and molestation involving a male victim under 12-years-old after the child’s mother reported sexual abuse to police in April. Two unidentified underage teenage girls were also victimized and directed to participate in sexual contact with the male victim. Police are seeking help in identifying the two other victims.
North Carolina: 13-year-old girl taken from Texas found in locked outbuilding in Lexington, sheriff says – Police have arrested a North Carolina man who met and groomed a 13-year-old victim on a chat app, eventually convincing her to let him pick her up from her Dallas, TX home. He drove her to North Carolina and locked her in an outbuilding that his friend’s mother had allowed him to live in because he had “nowhere to go.” He has been charged with felony human trafficking, two counts of statutory rape, two counts of statutory sex offense, one count of indecent liberties with a child, felonious restraint, and felony abduction of a child. He is being held on $1.25 million bond, the victim has returned to Texas with her family.
Ohio: Massage parlors, homes raided in Valley – A 5-year-long investigation that began by looking at massage parlors and identified a network stretching across at least 6 states culminated in the coordinated raid of 3 IMBs and multiple homes in 6 Ohio towns during Operation Saving Daylight. The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is pursuing a RICO case and seized thousands in cash. All 12 potential victims were removed and relocated but not arrested, in line with best practices.
Wisconsin: Judge says case against man accused of child trafficking, sex crimes can move forward – A 36-year-old man who faces 24 charges, including trafficking of a child, possession of child pornography, and sexual assault of a child has finally had an attorney appointed to represent him. He was charged in October, 2022 and is accused of offering underage girls alcohol and drugs in exchange for sex at a convenience store.
Wisconsin: River Falls man facing new federal charges; accused of sex and labor trafficking, producing child pornography – A 29-year-old man who was arrested on a labor trafficking charge for forcing an adult woman to livestream sexual acts daily for two years. He was physically abusive and “dumped hot grease down her back” during one incident. He has now been charged with sex trafficking and a range of sex crimes after bringing a 15 year-old victim to live with them and forcing her to perform with his first victim.

Indiana: Fort Wayne man sentenced for sex trafficking 17-year-old at Indianapolis hotels – A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sex trafficking an underage victim he met online and groomed into sex trafficking and ordered to pay her $13,000 in restitution. He took explicit photos of the victim and trafficked her for just over two weeks, and recorded videos of physically abusing her while she was impaired. Officers identified the situation when they saw the trafficker waiting outside of the hotel room and then fled when the officers approached him.
Ohio: Man sentenced to 40 years in prison for child sex trafficking operation – The 72-year-old ringleader of a sex trafficking ring that contained 11 other defendants and sexually exploited parents struggling with drug-addiction and their children has been convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He used drugs, threats, physical abuse and blackmail to ensure he could sexually exploit underage girls and boys. He filmed some of the exploitation and kept the CSAM on flash drives buried in his yard.
Michigan: Man arrested in a human trafficking operation sentenced to probation – A man who was arrested after attempting to buy sex from a 15-year-old girl “pleaded guilty to felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon, which dropped his original charge of accosting children for immoral purposes, according to the prosecutor’s office.” The other man, a Western Michigan University police officer, also received no jail time.
New York: Manhattan man gets decade behind bars for sex trafficking teen at Flushing hotel: DA – A  30-year-old-man who sex trafficked a 16-year-old girl in a Flushing hotel has been sentenced to a decade in jail. He contacted “dozens of johns.” The victim was rescued when undercover officers posed as sex buyers. The trafficker will be required to register as sex offender and be under post-release supervision for five years.
New York: Jamaica man get seven-year sentence for sex trafficking teenage girls at a hotel near JFK in 2020 – A 32-year-old man was convicted of two counts of sex trafficking of a child after trafficking multiple minor victims out of a hotel near a prominent New York airport. The 16-year-old and 17-year-old victims were threatened, and the 16-year-old was told she would be killed if she did not comply. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 7 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

Texas: ‘Erotic massage’ parlor near El Paso airport closed down in county legal deal – An IMB analyzed by Collective Liberty with 47 Texas licensing violations, all-male clientele, and advertisements on commercial sex sites dating back to 2015 has been shuttered through Texas nuisance laws. The IMB employed Chinese immigrant women who often spoke little English and seemed to be living above the workplace when it was raided in 2020, all hallmarks of human trafficking. No human trafficking charges were filed, but the legal settlement bans the registered agent from owning, operating, financing, or associating with massage establishments in the county and to pay a $7,000 fine.

Massachusetts: Owner of local pizza chain charged with forced labor in ‘horrific’ case of physical and mental abuse – The owner of a chain of pizza restaurants in Massachusetts has been arrested for forced labor. He is accused of targeting undocumented immigrants, forcing them to work in a verbally and physically abusive environment, and often underpaying them. The trafficker threatened to report his employees to immigration enforcement when they resisted. In one case, a victim who worked 12-hour days, seven days per week for 14 years without vacation was beaten so severely by the owner that he lost his teeth and must wear dentures. He was also kicked so hard in his genitals in retaliation for missing a day of work that he had to have surgery at a local hospital. During his recovery, the trafficker threatened to kill him if he did not return to work. The owner often gave free food to visiting police officers and convinced his victims that the police were his friends and would never consider charges against him. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Iowa: Micronesian couple sentenced in labor trafficking case involving relatives at Ottumwa plant – A Micronesian couple pled guilty to labor trafficking three young relatives in an Iowa meat packing plant have been sentenced to 48 months in prison, ordered to pay $70,000 in wages they took back to the victims, and be under three years of supervised release. Their criminal convictions may mean they and their young daughter could face deportation. The pair unlawfully confiscated the victims’ passports and social security cards, isolating them, monitoring their calls with family, and imposing false debts. The victims spoke Chuuk, a Micronesian language, and the court struggled to find translators who spoke the language and explain legal and cultural concepts to the victims.

Florida: 18 arrested in St. Petersburg human trafficking sting: police – Eighteen people were arrested for attempting to buy commercial sex, at least some of whom were seeking contact with minor victims.
Minnesota: Police: 23 arrested in sex trafficking operation in Hennepin County – Twenty-three men were arrested in Hannepin County for responding to an ad offering commercial sex at a local hotel. 
Pennsylvania: 8 men arrested in sex-trafficking sting in Berks – Eight men from Berks County were arrested attempting to buy sex from minors after responding to online advertisements. Five of the men were charged with trafficking of individuals.
Tennessee: BTPD: 11 arrested after human trafficking investigation – Eleven men were arrested for attempting to purchase commercial sex with a minor in Tennessee. All have been charged with at least one count of Solicitation of a Minor and one count of Patronizing Prostitution of a Minor.

USA: URI professor discusses worsening child labor in the United States – An expert on child labor in the United States discusses the recently reported increases.


Kentucky: Indictments returned in Bowling Green sex trafficking case – A 36-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman were indicted on sex trafficking charges for sex trafficking an adult victim out of a hotel room. It is unclear if the co-defendant was also commercially sexually exploited.
Michigan: FBI seeks victims of 2 charged in Mich. child sex trafficking – A man and a woman were arrested and charged with sex trafficking two minors in Southeast Michigan. It is unclear if the woman identified was also commercially sexually exploited and is a potential victim. 
Oklahoma: Broken Arrow police make arrest after undercover operation at massage parlor – A police officer arrested a worker at an IMB for prostitution, sharing her name and mugshot. There is no indication this was investigated as a potential human trafficking situation or that she was treated as a potential victim.
Tennessee: Five unlicensed workers arrested at Nashville massage parlor – Five women at a Nashville massage parlor were arrested because they did not possess valid licenses and were charged. Police say they told police in interviews they were working there voluntarily; it is unclear if they were provided culturally competent support services or if other best practices were followed before charging the potential victims.

Romania: Andrew Tate loses fresh appeal to be released from Romanian prison amid human trafficking case – The 35-year-old former professional kickboxer has once again had his appeal rejected in a Romanian court. Romania’s anti-organised crime agency DIICOT confirmed both brothers face organized crime and sex trafficking charges, and that their appeal was rejected. Romanian law enforcement seized almost £3.25m worth of materials after raiding their jointly owned estate. Six known sex trafficking victims have been identified as part of the case.
U.S. Virgin Islands: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon ‘knew in 2008’ that Epstein was a sex trafficker, lawyer argues – Attorneys for the U.S. Virgin Islands are making their case that the head of JP Morgan knew Jeffrey Epstein was a sex trafficker and failed to act.
USA: Ninth Circuit Limits Extraterritorial Reach of Trafficking Victims Protection Act – Justia offers legal analysis on two recent rulings that may limit the reach of the TVPA. 
USA: Pax­ton Asks Con­gress to Pro­tect and Bol­ster the Effi­cien­cy of the Nation­al Human Traf­fick­ing Hotline – Attorney Generals from 36 states have signed a letter calling for Congress to change the way the National Human Trafficking Hotline handles tips, saying that its operator Polaris has focused primarily on providing support resources to victims and often does not share tips unless they have explicit consent from the potential victim or if a confirmed minor is being trafficked.
USA: Child marriage in U.S. leaving children vulnerable to abuse – Freedom United releases a report on U.S. laws that allow children to be married to adults in 43 states, and 7 states have no minimum age requirement. An estimated 300,000 girls, some as young as 10, were married to older men in the US between 2000 and 2018.
California: San Diego police chief calls for repeal of loitering law to help fight sex trafficking – A police chief calls for California to once again allow arrests of people suspected of loitering for the purposes of providing commercial sex. Collective Liberty opposes these laws, which are used to criminalize the most vulnerable victimswhile not holding traffickers accountable.
Delaware: Zuckerberg, Meta are sued for failing to address sex trafficking, child exploitation – Meta, the corporate owner of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a lawsuit from investors that Meta’s leadership turned a blind eye to systemic evidence of human trafficking. 
Florida: Armed man accused of barging into massage parlor, demanding sex act – A 35-year-old man has been arrested after entering a Florida massage parlor and holding a massage therapist at gun-point, demanding she provide oral sex. She told him repeatedly that that is not provided and was able to escape after fighting back. The man fled, returned the getaway vehicle to a family member, and was eventually located hiding in a wooded area. He has been charged with “attempted sexual battery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.” After his arrest, police revealed he was a known violent felon with 25 arrests and 9 prior felony convictions.
Georgia: Events planned to mark anniversary of spa shootings – This March marks the second anniversary of shootings at massage parlors where seven women and one man were targeted and killed by Robert Aaron Long, who was age 21 at the time of the mass shooting. Six of the victims were Asian American. He pled guilty to killing eight and wounding one, claiming that he was “addicted” to buying commercial sex and had purchased sex acts at those IMBs previously. He said his time at an evangelical Christian treatment clinic had failed to fix his urges, and he decided to shoot his victims after a “relapse” and being evicted from his parents’ home.
Louisiana: DCFS has received 78 reports of child trafficking since Jan. 1 –  A Louisiana law that required suspected human trafficking cases at the state’s Department of Children and Family to be reported has identified 78 calls about the trafficking of children. The calls, involving 89 potential victims, included 69  child sex trafficking cases and 9 child labor trafficking cases. Of those cases, 39 investigations of parents or caregivers were launched. Another 9 cases that were not ongoing were also reported.
Maryland: Opinion: Why Maryland’s sex trafficked children need a Safe Harbor law – An op-ed discussing Maryland’s unusual lack of safe harbor laws and why they are so vital to protect underage victims of human trafficking. Collective Liberty has addressed this issue, saying that this approach to policing harms vulnerable people and is not effective at stopping sex traffickers.

Copyright © *2023* *Collective Liberty*, All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: