News Videos

The CNN Freedom Project has dedicated a full year in 2011 to exposing what human trafficking is. Below is a great video that talks about how trafficking works and what we need to do to stop it.


Largest human trafficking case ever charged in the United States according to the FBI. This is a case of labor trafficking and involves 400 Thai workers in Hawaii and California.

Largest Human Trafficking Case in the US

Oakland Police Department – Teen girls forced into prostitution by pimps in Oakland, California. Our society has created a “class of forgotten children” – with an attitude that these are the “bad” girls. Little do we know that these girls are slaves, forced to sell their bodies to get money for their pimps. (Part of the MSNBC Special “Sex Slaves in America”)

 

San Diego County Sheriff’s Office reenactment of a “routine” traffic stop. This shows how crucial it is that our law enforcement knows how to spot victims of trafficking.

There are also labor slaves like Elena. She was trafficked from Peru by an LA professor. She is free today because of a heroic college student. A majority of hidden slaves are rescued because of “nosy” neighbors. This video is Elena’s story, in her own words. (There’s a short commercial in the beginning.) – 6 min.

Shared Hope International investigates sex slaves in Las Vegas – 2 min.

This woman’s story in Detroit is the catalyst for California Against Slavery 2010. The two men who enslaved her and 15 other women got 7 years and 14 years in prison. This shows how current laws against trafficking are not commensurate with the gravity of the crime. (MSNBC Special “Sex Slaves in America”).

 

Cases

Oceanside man gets 30 years for sex trafficking 17-yr. old.
LA Times, Dec. 19, 2011

A 41-year-old Oceanside man was sentenced in federal court Monday to 30 years in prison after being convicted of forcing a 17-year-old girl into prostitution. Maurice Lerome Smith set up Internet ads offering sex with an underage female, according to testimony and made as much as $1200 a day by driving the victim to motels.

Smith first met the teen while she was walking in San Diego, forced her into his car, beat her with a belt and raped her, according to testimony at a three-day trial. –Tony Perry in San Diego

5 Men Charged With Forcing Minors Into Prostitution in North Hollywood
StudioCity.patch.com, Dec. 15, 2011

Darrius Sutton, Chad Phillips-Miller, Darius Burks, Leprinceton Burks and Edwin Franklin were arrested last week and each has been charged with two felony counts of conspiracy—for pandering, and pandering a minor. Four of the five men face additional charges. Officer Cleon Joseph of the Los Angeles Police Department said detectives believe the men transported minors from the Inland Empire area to Long Beach, then to North Hollywood, for prostitution.

Police urged anyone with information about the case to call the Innocence Lost Task Force Hotline at (800) 655-4095.

Hawaii Pimp Gets 10 Years For Child Sex-Trafficking
Honolulu Civil Beat Dec, 12 2011

On Monday, a federal judge in Hawaii sentenced a pimp to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor by force.

Quadralis Watson, 28, had five women between the ages of 14 and 20 under his employ in 2007 and 2008. He admitted to having sex with the 14-year-old and beating her multiple times, once locking her in the trunk of a car for five hours. Watson had a long history of crime in Honolulu and was arrested on drug charges in Georgia when federal agents caught up with him. He’d been arrested 73 times for theft, harassment and prostitution, among other charges.

Watson was what federal agents refer to as a “gorilla pimp,” one who used violence to keep his prostitutes in line.

Lawrence Taylor sued by girl he paid for underage sex
Reuters.com, Nov. 28, 2011

A woman paid by Lawrence Taylor for sex when she was 16 years old sued the former U.S. football star on Monday for unspecified damages, saying she wanted to stand up for victims of sex trafficking. Taylor admitted in January that he paid Cristina Fierro $300 for sex in 2010 at a Holiday Inn outside of New York City. He was sentenced to six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.

Fierro, who was a runaway, had told police that her pimp had verbally threatened her and physically assaulted her before bringing her to the hotel to meet Taylor. The pimp, Rasheed Davis, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Fierro, now 18 years old, sued the 52-year-old former New York Giants player under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Thirty-one arrested in online prostitution sting
ABC Action News, Dec. 5, 2011

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Polk County Sheriff’s deputies busted 22 for prostitution and five for pimping in a sting that netted 31 arrests.

Over the weekend, in a sting targeting online prostitution, detectives placed and answered ads found on various websites, including craigslist, Backpage, and CityVibe.
During the three-day operation, 31 suspects were arrested on a variety of charges, most of them associated with Solicitation of Prostitution, and some for drug-related charges. Several of the suspects admitted to advertising sex online as being their main source of income.

Black Women Share With Sisters and Daughters: 5 Ways Pimps Recruit Their Prey
Rollingout.com, Nov. 22, 2011

Five ways pimps recruit their prey; read, and take heed…

Hawthorne pimp pleads no contest, gets 27 years in prison
Dailybreeze.com, Oct. 18, 2011

A Hawthorne man accused last year of forcing two teenage girls to work for him as prostitutes pleaded no contest Tuesday to a kidnapping charge involving one of the teens.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner immediately sentenced 35-year-old Leroy Bragg to 27 years in state prison on the kidnapping count, along with a first-degree burglary charge on which he was convicted Sept. 16.

Leighton Buzzard ‘slave’ empire uncovered in major police raid
The Guardian, Sept. 11, 2011

Bedfordshire police uncovered a modern-day slave empire on a caravan site in Leighton Buzzard. Twenty-four modern day slaves were released from bondage on Sunday after a pre-dawn police raid found them emaciated, hungry and living in “filthy and cramped” conditions on a caravan site in Leighton Buzzard.

Child Sex Trafficking in Our Fair City? Say It Ain’t So
Palo Alto Patch, Sept. 5, 2011

Disturbing trends among teenagers reflect a growing national problem. There is a new, deeply disturbing trend we are seeing in the high schools. Upperclasswomen, typically seniors, are luring freshman girls to parties and pimping them out to the senior and junior boys.”

Fugitive Wanted on Child Porn Charges was Living in Jersey City
NJ.com, Sept. 2, 2011

Authorities in Florida say Bell, a convicted felon, had underage girls working for him from his residence since 2008, and advertised them for prostitution on the Internet. Authorities in Pinellas County, Florida, began their investigation on Dec. 1, 2009 after one of Bell’s underage sex trafficking victims told Sheriff’s Office child protection investigators her horrific story.

Alleged pimp now charged with rape
Phillyburbs.com, Sept. 1, 2011

Murray, 29, of Philadelphia, is awaiting trial in Bucks County Court for numerous charges, including promoting prostitution and drug trafficking. Alleged pimp and drug dealer Jamil Murray always carried a cell phone, witnesses said, usually dangling from a lanyard around his neck.

Prosecutors say he not only used the phone to complete crack cocaine transactions and direct his stable of prostitutes, but also to make home movies. Now those movies have been shown to a judge, and Murray is accused of even more crimes. He is now also charged with raping an unconscious person and sexually abusing children by creating and possessing child pornography.

Carol Stream man charged after cop poses as teen prostitute
The Tribune, August 26, 2011

The DuPage County Sheriff’s police have arrested a Carol Stream man who allegedly tried to arrange a tryst with a person he thought was a teenage prostitute.

A judge Friday set bail at $350,000 for Frank Descetto, 60, on charges of patronizing a minor engaged in prostitution, solicitation of a sexual act and attempted aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Scott pleads guilty in prostitution case
Foxsports.com Aug. 16, 2011

Disgraced WABC-TV sports broadcaster Marvell Scott will serve only 20 days of community service — and eventually get his record wiped clean — after pleading guilty Tuesday to a child prostitution rap. As part of the plea agreement, Scott, 36, admitted to misdemeanor injuring the welfare of a child in the case, in which the girl offered to him as a prostitute in New York City’s Times Square was only 14 years old.

In lieu of jail or probation, Scott will return to court in six months and, providing he has completed his community service, the misdemeanor will be wiped from his record.

Accused Springville pimp slapped with 12 new sex charges
Heraldextra.com, Aug. 6, 2011

Bond, the accused pimp who authorities say ran a prostitution ring in Springville, was charged Friday with 12 new counts of rape and aggravated sexual assault. According to the charging documents, Bond groomed his 2008 victim with threats and rewards. The incidents came to prosecutors’ attention after Bond was charged in July with forcing a pair of teenage girls to sell sexual favors while he made video recordings. In the case of all three girls, prosecutors believe Bond groomed his victims after they volunteered to help around his home, seeing him as a harmless old man.

Human trafficking racket busted, 13 minors rescued
Times of India, Jul. 30, 2011

The Bangalore police claimed to have recently busted a human trafficking racket with the arrest of two persons and rescued 13 children from their possession. Acting on a tip off, the police raided a luggage manufacturing unit here and rescued 13 children, including two girls and a three-year-old boy.

The police said that the two accused had been supplying minor children, mainly from Bihar, to industrial establishments.

MS-13 gang member guilty in sex-trafficking case

Washington Examiner, Jul. 28, 2011

An illegal immigrant who is a member of the MS-13 gang has been found guilty of trafficking a 12-year-old girl for sex. A federal jury in Alexandria convicted 24-year-old Jose Ciro Juarez-Santamaria of conspiracy, sex trafficking and transportation of a minor for prostitution.

He met the 12-year-old girl, who had run away from her home, at a Halloween party in 2009, prosecutors said. The girl had asked him to help her find a place to stay. Court records say Juarez-Santamaria made the girl work as a prostitute from October to December 2009 and drove her to clients in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District.

Man Charged With Trafficking 3 Texas Girl for Sex
CBS Los Angeles

Santa Ana – Samuel Martinez Gonzalez of Santa Ana lured three girls (15 to 16 years old) from Texas by offering to take them to the beach. Instead, he took them shopping for “hoochie” dresses, and told them he expected them to work as prostitutes. One of the girls was able to call home and said they were being kept in a motel and ordered to work as prostitutes. Investigators found Gonzalez, and received a call for sexual services on his cell phone. Gonzalez faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Human Trafficking Sentencing in San Diego
New Release from the Office of the United States Attorney Southern District of California, August 22, 2011

San Diego – Charles Duan Hamilton was sentenced by a federal court in San Diego to serve 141 months in custody, plus 10 years of supervised release for one count of sex trafficking of a minor. He was also ordered by pay $3,200.07 in restitution to the victim. Hamilton admitted that he recruited and transported a 16 year old female for prostitution in San Diego County and other places. He was arrested in Seattle, Washington.

Feds indict 38 in gang-run prostitution
North County Times, April 18, 2011

Oceanside, CA – A major slavery and prostitution ring was broken up by Federal officials which led to 29 arrests of gang members and the owners of a hotel. Rival gang members cooperated to run the prostitution ring, and used social networking sites to recruit young women. 30 minors, many of them runaways, were rescued.

Fremont Woman Sentenced in Human Trafficking Case
Mercury News, November 17th, 2010

Fremont, CA – A woman in Fremont, Fang Ping Ding, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison on human trafficking charges for trafficking a Chinese woman into domestic servitude. She received 37 months in prison for confiscating the woman’s passport, visa, and other documentation. The victim was held in captivity and enslavement for over a year, without pay, and was physically abused during her imprisonment.

Also convicted were Wei Wei Liang and Bo Shen; Liang was sentenced to home confinement and Shen was sentenced to probation. The court ordered the defendants to jointly pay $83,867 in restitution and Liang and Shen foreited $346,000 to the government.

“The defendants deprived the victim of her freedom through physical abuse and psychological intimidation for their own financial benefit,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Their conduct created a condition of modern-day slavery for the victim within the walls of their home.”

Beverly Hills Company behind Largest Human Trafficking Case in U.S. History
Beverly Hills Courier, September 2, 2010

Beverly Hills, CA – Senior management at a Beverly Hills-based recruitment agency have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit forced labor against 400 Thai farm workers. Mordechai Orian, along with five associates in Hawaii and Thailand, has been apprehended.

“It’s one of the largest human trafficking cases in U.S. history,” Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told the Courier. The trafficking ring was spread out from California to Hawaii to Thailand; highlighting the vast amount of networks traffickers possess. Orian lured workers with fraudulent claims of lucrative jobs, and then he confiscated their passports, threatened deportation, and did not honor their employment contracts. At press time Orian and his co-defendants are in federal custody facing up to 70 years behind bars.

Retrial in Human Trafficking Case
Daily Pilot, August 21st, 2010

Costa Mesa, CA- Two men sentenced to life in prison in 2009 will get a retrial after judges ruled lack of instruction given to the jury. Reynaldo Eid Jr. and Alaor Oliveira Jr. were convicted of kidnapping and holding an illegal immigrant mother and child in a Costa Mesa motel for ransom in 2005. The traffickers’ claimed that they were unaware that the victim wanted to leave.

Two Arrested In Human Trafficking Case
KCRA.com, March 30th, 2010

Paso Robles, CA- A Paso Robles couple was arrested on suspicion of smuggling Filipino nationals into the US and into forced servitude, a form of human trafficking. The trafficking victims were forced to work in residential care facilities by way of debt bondage, the victims were told that they would be deported or that their families would be harmed if they did not pay off their “debt.” Maximino Morales and Melina Morales are set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Santa Clara County secured its first conviction under state trafficking laws
San Mateo County Times, September 10, 2009

Timothy Richardson, 35, and Robert Hendricks, 30, pleaded guilty in mid-August to trafficking two women in their 20s for commercial sex, beginning in November, when Hendricks met the victims in Lake Tahoe. Hendricks forced the women into acts of prostitution over the next several weeks. He then sold them to Richardson (sounds like the slave trade, huh?). The women were often separated and beaten, and one woman’s life was threatened. At some point, one of them managed to reach a relative, who called the Santa Clara police.

Richardson received a sentence of 6 years and 4 months, while Hendricks received a 3-year sentence. (No typo here, they were sentenced under current California human trafficking law.)

Walnut Creek Woman Found Guilty of Trafficking Nanny from Peru
U.S. Department of State press release, October 9, 2009; Fox Reno, November 18, 2009; SF Gate, April 15, 2010

Walnut Creek, Calif. real estate agent was sentenced to five years under FEDERAL law, $123,740 in restitution and three years of supervised release for enslaving a Peruvian nanny for nearly two years.

Mabelle de la Rosa Dann, 46, also known as Mabelle Crabbe, lured the Peruvian nanny to the Bay Area with promises of a good job and living condition. The nanny, identified as Zoraida Pena Canal, said she was virtually held captive and forced to work 15 hours a day to care for Dann’s three children and household. Dann took away her passport. She barred her from Spanish-language television or communicating with her friends and family in Peru, destroyed a radio she had listened to, limited the amount of food she was allowed to eat. She verbally and physically abused by Dann. Pena Canal finally escaped on April 16, 2008 with the help of officials and parents from the elementary school.

Police find underage prostitutes online, try to lead them from life
The Modesto Bee, Updated May 29, 2008.
Though this article mislabeled the victims as “prostitutes,” it is a great article with real stories of underage sex trafficking and the internet.

Sacramento, CA – If she tried hard, 14-year-old Jasmine could have sex with nine men a day. She’d start posting ads online at 2 or 3 p.m., in time to set up appointments with early commuters…

For Jasmine, it started with a rape when she was 11. She said she confided to her mother about the attack, and her mother responded that it was the girl’s fault. Jasmine ran, first to the streets, then to a friend’s house. There, she met a man who told her all kinds of nice things, compliments she’d rarely heard. He also gave her physical affection. “In other words, sex,” she said recently, her big brown eyes unblinking as she sat in Seyffert’s office. Before long, the pimp taught Jasmine to sell her body, sometimes for $80, sometimes $300. He kept the profits, buying her cheeseburgers and sexy clothes.  From him, and the other five pimps she worked for from 11 to 14, she learned to keep her eyes trained on the ground and to shut off her mind when johns climbed on top of her.

Human trafficking case ends for 48 Thai welders
Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2006

Long Beach, CA – An immigrant welder from Thailand was forced to work 13 hour days living in poor conditions while only receiving a total of $220 dollars for working full time for three months. Sathaporn Pornsrisirisak, 43, was one of 48 Thai bonded laborers brought to California. In December 2006, federal authorities announced a $1.4 million case settlement with Trans Bay Steel Corp. of Napa to help the trafficked laborers.

Irvine pair guilty in child slave case
The Orange County Register, June 30, 2006

Santa Ana, CA - In June 2006, a couple from Egypt pleaded guilty to forcing a 10-year-old Egyptian girl to work as a domestic servant to their family of seven in Irvine. The couple had forced the girl to sleep in the garage, with no light or ventilation, and had forbidden her to attend school or see a doctor in two years.

U.S. Agents Crack West Coast Human Smuggling
America.gov, July 1, 2005

Los Angeles/San Francisco, CA - In July 2005, the federal government arrested more than 40 people in Los Angeles and San Francisco and seized more than $3 million in illicit proceeds in Operation Gilded Cage. This operation involved more than 100 Korean women, many of whom told investigators that they were taken from their country against their will and forced to work as erotic masseuses.

Modern day slave story, a common tale in Los Angeles
Santa Monica Daily Press, September 3, 2004

Los Angeles, CA – In September 2004, a financial settlement was reached on behalf of Nena Jimeno Ruiz, who was lured to Los Angeles from the Philippines under false pretenses, then forced to work 18-hour days at the home of an executive at Sony Pictures. She had to sleep on a dog bed and was threatened with never seeing her family again if she complained. Today, she publicly shares her story with the hopes of helping other human trafficking victims.

More Cases in California

From the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS) report Human Trafficking in California,” October 2007 page 18

The crime of human trafficking can involve one individual or a large group of victims. Examples of human trafficking cases in California reveal the wide variety of enterprises and situations in which individuals and groups are subjected to slave-like conditions:

In 2001, a Berkeley landlord and restaurateur, Lakireddy Bali Reddy, was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for smuggling teenage girls from India in a sex and labor exploitation ring spanning 15 years and operating in India and California. He repeatedly raped and sexually abused his victims and forced them to work in his businesses. A 17-year old girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an apartment he owned. (Human Rights Center. 2005. Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California. University of California, Berkeley.)

In December 2006, a financial settlement was reached on behalf of 48 Thai welders hired through Kota Manpower Inc. of Thailand and Los Angeles, accused of forcing them to live in squalor while working for little or no pay. (Los Angeles Times. December 8, 2006. “Human trafficking case ends for 48 Thai welders.”)

In June 2006, a couple from Egypt pleaded guilty to forcing a 10-year-old Egyptian girl to work as a domestic servant to their family of seven in Irvine. The couple had forced the girl to sleep in the garage, with no light or ventilation, and had forbidden her to attend school or see a doctor in two years. (Orange County Register. June 30, 2006. “Irvine pair guilty in child slave case ” “ Egyptian nationals plead guilty to four charges in Irvine human-trafficking cases”; United States Attorney, Central District of California, press release. February 2, 2005. “Irvine couple indicted on involuntary servitude charges for holding girl as virtual slave to serve their family.”)

In July 2005, the federal government arrested more than 40 people in Los Angeles and San Francisco and seized more than $3 million in illicit proceeds in Operation Gilded Cage. This operation involved more than 100 Korean women, many of whom told investigators that they were taken from their country against their will and forced to work as erotic masseuses. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. July 1, 2005. “U.S. Agents Crack West Coast Human Smuggling, Trafficking Ring.”)

In September 2004, a financial settlement was reached on behalf of Nena Jimeno Ruiz, who was lured to Los Angeles from the Philippines under false pretenses, then forced to work 18-hour days at the home of an executive at Sony Pictures. She had to sleep on a dog bed and was threatened with never seeing her family again if she complained. (Santa Monica Daily Press. September 3, 2004.)

In 2001, Victoria Island Farms settled a civil suit that resulted in the payment of back wages to California asparagus harvesters who were forced to harvest the high-priced vegetable in substandard conditions for virtually no pay in the San Joaquin Delta region of California. Hired by a farm labor contractor, the workers, recruited mostly from Mexico, were powerless to stop the huge deductions for transportation and other “debts” the employer took from their weekly paychecks.

In 2000, Sammy Cheung was sentenced to over 12 years in prison for leading a criminal ring in which he recruited several women and girls from Mexico to work as prostitutes in Long Beach. During this time he kept the victims under guard and forced them to work without pay until police freed the captives after raiding the brothel.

In 1999, a Thai woman, Supawan Veerapool, was sentenced to eight years in prison for bringing a domestic worker from Thailand to Los Angeles to provide household support in her home, confiscating the worker’s passport. She then forced her to work 24-hour days six days a week for nine years until the victim escaped in 1998.

In 1995, 72 Thai workers were discovered in a garment factory in the City of El Monte, Los Angeles County, in a compound surrounded by fences tipped with barbed wire. Some had been held for as long as seven years. (New York Times. August 4, 1995. “Thai Workers Are Set Free in California.”)

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