|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.|
|Arkansas: Arkansas man charged with rape, human trafficking – A 42-year-old man has been arrested for rape and sex trafficking a vulnerable victim struggling with drug addiction. The victim’s mother called police after the victim told her she was raped in exchange for drugs.|
South Carolina: RCSD: Columbia man arrested on human trafficking charges – A 21-year-old man has been arrested for sex trafficking a 15-year-old and 16-year-old, one of whom believed she was in a romantic relationship with him. The victims were being exploited in local motels.California: Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Attempted Sex Trafficking of Teenage Girl – A 35-year-old man has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for attempting to sex traffic a 16-year-old girl he met over social media. The trafficker had been released from an eight-year sentence for burglary and false imprisonment for 4-months when he began attempting to groom a 16-year-old girl on social media, telling her he would meet her in a park and then take her to another county where she would be required to provide commercial sex. However, when he arrived at the park he discovered he had been talking to an undercover officer and was arrested.
Louisiana: Bastrop man sentenced in connection to human trafficking case in Bossier City – A 38-year-old man has been sentenced for sex trafficking two adult women across at least three states, one of whom he met and groomed over Facebook. He used violence to control the victims and required one victim to post all the ads. Police uncovered the case after both victims were assaulted, and one fled for help.
Nebraska: Omaha man found guilty in child sex trafficking case, faces 15 years to life in prison – A 45-year-old man was found guilty of sexually assaulting and sex trafficking a minor and filming the exploitation. When extracted, the victim was severely malnourished and had scars, burns, and bruises. She feared the sex trafficker would kill her if she resisted or tried to get help.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania man sentenced for sex trafficking of minors – A 35-year-old Philadelphia man who sex-trafficked four victims aged 15-17 has been sentenced to 25 years in prison and lifetime supervision. Two other co-defendants are accused of assisting him.
South Carolina: Violence, drug addiction used to force women into sex trafficking in SC – A 31-year-old man pleaded guilty to sex trafficking multiple victims, using violence, threats, and access to drugs as control methods. The trafficker called one victim over 40 times from custody, demanding she say she knew nothing of his crimes and threatening her, which is a common tactic of human traffickers. He has agreed to pay restitution to his victims and register as a sex offender, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Texas: Houston man receives 25 years in prison for child trafficking – A 33-year-old man pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a 15-year-old victim who had run away from her mother. Police performed a requested welfare check at the trafficker’s home and searched the location when he claimed no one was there, finding the victim hidden in a closet. Four years later, when a search warrant was approved to search his home again, the same victim was located, now age 19, leading to a charge of continuous trafficking of a minor.Florida: Woman accused of laundering $500K from illicit Fort Lauderdale massage parlor – The Broward County Sherriff’s Office has arrested a woman for operating an IMB and laundering over $500K and one count of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution, with many payments going to a male individual. The police have shared that those working in the IMB are likely human trafficking victims, the investigation is ongoing.
Texas: Woman charged after prostitution investigation at several massage parlors, foot spas around Harris County – A woman who owns multiple IMBs has been charged with money laundering. A prosecutor working the case received an anonymous letter stating “once we are in the United States they take and keep our passports and our money, in order to force us to do prostitution.”
Indiana: Massage parlor owner gets probation for not paying taxes – An owner of a massage parlor where immigrant workers were kept at an apartment across the street and charged for their rooms will be required to pay $72,926.07 in back taxes and be on probation for 3 years.California: Founder of Sexual Wellness Company Indicted on Forced Labor Charges – A 55-year-old owner and founder of a company and commune organized around “orgasmic meditation” and her 43-year-old former Director of Sales have been indicted on labor trafficking and a range of related charges. The organization targeted vulnerable people, promising to heal them from prior abuse and sexual dysfunction, then demanded thousands of dollars in payments or debts. Many followers were offered work but not paid, worked in communal environments, and were subjected to degradation and abuse, requiring members to engage in sex acts they found repulsive.South Carolina: Man who ran Lexington agriculture company sentenced to federal prison for labor trafficking – A man who labor trafficked over 55 Mexican workers, then kept them “on lockdown” and abused them at his agricultural harvesting company has been convicted of labor trafficking. He received nearly 3.5 years in prison and will likely face deportation after serving his sentence. His daughter, a U.S. Citizen who traveled to Mexico and recruited the workers promised $11 per hour and 8-hour workdays. Instead, workers had their documents confiscated, were subjected to 12-hour days, underpaid, had exorbitant fees deducted from their paychecks for their meals, and were threatened with deportation if they resisted or complained. She was partially sentenced to three years of supervised release because she assisted with the investigation. They must pay over $500,000 in restitution to the victims.
Washington: 12 men arrested in SeaTac during undercover operation targeting sex buyers – Twelve men were arrested for attempting to buy commercial sex from undercover officers in Seattle.
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Florida: Over 20 busted in human trafficking sting – Police in Coweta County arrested 15 buyers and one sex trafficker who was exploiting 4 potential victims from Cuba. Unfortunately, police chose to also arrest 8 potential victims on prostitution charges, making them more vulnerable to exploitation.
Florida: Police: Woman flees from hospital after human trafficking bust at Miami Beach hotel – An 18-year-old woman has been arrested for sex trafficking a 17-year-old victim for posting sexually graphic ads; a 17-year-old male was also present at the time of the arrest. It is unclear if police are investigating the potential of experienced sex traffickers being involved or if the 18-year-old is also a victim.
New York: Human trafficking investigation in Frankfort – Despite performing a human trafficking investigation in Frankfort and recognizing the fraud and exploitation the potential victims may have experienced at an IMB, police have chosen to charge a potential victim with prostitution. It is unclear if a potential victim was charged with “unauthorized business practice.”
Maryland: Undercover Anne Arundel detectives bust prostitution operation after receiving massages – Two women whose papers state they are “from New York” were arrested on prostitution charges for propositioning undercover detectives. Unfortunately, despite conforming to a typical pattern of sex trafficking immigrants at IMBs, the potential victims were arrested, charged, and named. There is no indication a human trafficking investigation was attempted.
Oklahoma: 6 women arrested from Bethany massage parlors during undercover sting – Police in Bethany raided 6 massage parlors, arresting 6 potential victims for prostitution. Police claimed to “make sure they aren’t being exploited” and considered human trafficking, but criminalized potential victims.
Tennessee: 4 people kidnap woman, force victim to perform sexual acts with 1-month-old girl in room, officials say – A sex trafficker orchestrated the sexual assault and sex trafficking of a young mother while her one-month-old was in the room. He and three women sex trafficked the woman out of a hotel room. It is unclear if these women were other potential victims or if some were serving as lieutenants to avoid abuse. After the story, another woman said the sex trafficker attempted to recruit her and then experienced violence, followed by being sex trafficked after she refused.
Texas: 26 arrested in Lubbock ‘human trafficking’ operation, police said – Lubbock police arrested 17 buyers attempting to buy commercial sex and identified one potential victim. However, they arrested 7 potential victims and charged them with prostitution. In a separate article, Lubbock police discuss why they arrest so many potential victims despite a local nonprofit that serves survivors sharing victimization rates among commercial sex providers.
Global: Less than half of 1 percent of human trafficking victims are identified. That needs to change. – The State Department has released its 2022 report, ranking countries around the world for their efforts on addressing human trafficking. A senior analyst discusses why so few victims are identified and what needs to be done.
USA: 2022 Federal Human Trafficking Report Released– The 2022 Federal Human Trafficking Report has been released, detailing statistics of federal human trafficking cases across the United States.
New York: East Fishkill community rattled by sex trafficking Tiktok hoax – A community in New York experienced a panic when a gym owner received a complaint that a man had found a zip tie on the handle of his car and the owner sent out an email warning about human traffickers using zip ties as a distraction tactic. This is a known myth spread via social media, and like other elaborate, abduction-based urban legends has never been substantiated in the United States by police.
North Carolina: NC farmworkers settle human trafficking, wage-theft case against labor contractors – The labor trafficking victims who sued their traffickers for requiring them to work worse-paid cooking jobs for male laborers despite the farmwork they were hired to do through the H-2A program have successfully settled their suit for thousands.
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