Not In Our Own Backyard

william-wilberforce

Human trafficking in the United States is an exponentially growing problem. It is the second largest criminal global enterprise right behind the drug trade. Public awareness exists, but it isn’t a sufficiently talked about topic. We in the US tend to think this is a problem limited to other countries. The usual suspects being asian, balkan, and african countries. The problem is globally systemic and the US is just as complicit in this growing sickness.

Part of my mission as a human being is to help spread awareness and fight to end human trafficking and child slavery. The following is an excerpt list of United States case law concerning domestic acts of human trafficking:

Read, learn, understand, fight!

– Pugilist Rabbit

[The full United Nations source list can be found here: Full List]

  • USA142 United States v. Franklin Bryant
  • Defendant Bryant pleaded guilty to transporting females for the purposes of prostitution. In August 2005, Defendant Bryant travelled with a 17-year-old girl from California to Arizona for purposes of prostitution, and then returned to California with the 17-year-old girl and another 19-year-old woman with the intent that both would engage in prostitution in the Bay Area of California. Bryant advertised the victims’ as escorts over the Internet.
  • USA143 United States v. Greg Parsons
  • Defendant Parsons was one of 18 individuals charged after a child prostitution investigation called “Stormy Nights,” as a part of “loose affiliation” of child traffickers. All of the child victims were United States citizens. Defendant Parsons pleaded guilty to transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
  • USA144 United States v. John Lee Geiler Jr. and Darrill Gray
  • Geiler took a minor to a motel and gave her crack cocaine. He later told her that she would have to pay off the debt for the cocaine she used. He took the victim to his co-defendant Darrill Gray so she could work off her drug debt by working as a prostitute. She was given more crack by Gray who also used violence to stop her from leaving his house. She left with a client who promised to give Gray crack cocaine and instead was taken to a shelter. Gray pled guilty to child trafficking and was sentenced to 60 months. Geiler pled guilty to child trafficking and sentenced to 45 months.
  • USA035 United States v. Jacobo Dominguez Vazquez
  • All three defendants pleaded guilty to smuggling a 13 year-old girl into the United States from Mexico for the purpose of prostituting the victim. The men coerced the girl into prostituting herself to repay her “smuggling” fee, which was upwards of $2000. The defendants solicited their business in Jackson, Wyoming, operating out of motels in the area. The three defendants kept all the money earned by the victim. The defendants fled with the girl to Phoenix, Arizona, after an altercation between the defendants and customer resulted in a call to the police. The defendants remained in Arizona for eighteen months before returning to Jackson; however, police were not able to track down the defendants until a year after their return to Jackson.
  • USA127 United States v. Domingo Gonzalez-Garcia
  • All three defendants were undocumented immigrants from Mexico who pled guilty to sex trafficking and smuggling charges.  Defendant Domingo Gonzalez-Garcia smuggled his wife from Mexico into the United States in 2001 for the purposes of prostituting her.  He and his co-defendants conducted this scheme in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. His brother, Defendant Evodio Gonzalez-Garcia, and his nephew, Defendant Oscar Romero-Gonzalez, also pled guilty to the same charges.
  • USA042 United States v. Delicia Suyapa Aguilar-Galindo, Criminal Case No. 4:02-CR-114
  • The defendants trafficked more than 30 young women, some of them under the age of 18, from Honduras into the United States to work in bars owned by the defendants. The defendants lured the victims to the United States with promises of employment in restaurants and as domestic help. After being smuggled into the United States under horrendous conditions, the women were forced to work at nightclubs to pay off significant debts to their smugglers. According to media report, deferral investigators testified that several victims were forced into prostitution, but the defendants were not indicated on charges related to sex trafficking.
  • USA049 United States v. Louisa Satia, Criminal Case No. 00-590
  • The defendants brought two girls (age 14 and age 17), to the United States from Cameroon, in the mid-1990s. The defendants told the girls and their families that, in exchange for performing light housework, the girls would have the opportunity to attend school in the United States. Once in the United States, the defendants used threats and physical violence, including sexual abuse, to force the victims to work long days as domestic servants and nannies. The defendants also controlled and manipulated the girls by threatening to deport them. The victims received no compensation, and were not permitted to attend school.
  • USA028 United States v. Booker
  • Two of the defendants picked up three migrant workers under false promises of providing steady work and free transportation to the work site. In reality, the defendants delivered the workers to the labor camp operated by the third defendant, Booker. The defendants forced the individuals to work by use of constant threats of physical violence. Employment was intermittent and the defendants informed the workers that they would have to work to pay off the transportation to the work site as well as the meals they consumed while they remained idle. The workers were forbidden to leave, and were required to make all retail purchases at the campsite. When two of the workers attempted to leave to go to a nearby store, two of the defendants physically beat them, forced them into a van, and returned them to the labor camp.
  • USA056 United States v. John Lester Harris
  • Dennis Warren provided migrant farm workers for the farm of Cecil Williams in Nash County, North Carolina, during the summer of 1981, and also supervised the workers. Dennis assisted in running the crew with his brother, Richard Warren, John Harris, and Halsey Norwood. Many of the workers were recruited by methods ranging from deception to kidnapping. The workers were charged for their consumption in the camp where they lived, and the costs were deducted from their wages. The workers were guarded at night, and anyone who tried to flee would be picked up and returned by Harris or others. Both physical and threatened violence were used to prevent workers from leaving, and to force them to work faster. Workers who complained of illness or injuries were denied medical assistance. On September 13, 1981, R.A., a migrant worker from Philadelphia, died on a bus he had been placed in after collapsing in the fields. Two autopsies established that the primary cause of death was heat stroke. His death and reports of civil rights violations at the farm precipitated an investigation of the camp by the FBI.
  • USA147 United States v Marcus Sewell
  • Defendant Sewell, age 34 at the time he was arrested, advertised two minor girls as escorts on internet sites, including Craigslist. Between April 2005 and June 2006, he acted as the girls’ pimp and transported them between California, Nevada, and Florida, for the purpose of prostituting themselves. He was arrested in 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada, after a foot chase.
  • USA132 United States v Brandon Keith Hill
  • In 2005, Hill was arrested for a prostitution scheme involving both adult and minor females. Hill operated this scheme along with several individuals, who are unidentified in the court documents, and across multiple states. This sex trafficking ring operated mainly at truck and highway rest stops, and as noted above involved several minors who Hill would transport to each location in order to prostitute them. In 2006, Hill was found guilty. Hill later appealed his sentence based on the court’s departure from the applicable sentencing guidelines and his sentence was remanded, with a slight downward departure (from 210 months to 174 months).
  • USA025 United States v. Salazar
  • The defendants allegedly lured young Mexican girls and women into the United States under false pretences, then forced them into prostitution, using physical violence, and threats to maintain strict control over them. Four of the six defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit sex trafficking. Ivan Salazar and his co-conspirators also instructed the women on how to service the clients and prohibited the women from conversing with each other or their clients. The conspirators required the Mexican girls and women to turn over their prostitution proceeds to the conspirators for the financial benefit of the conspirators.The evidence demonstrated that, in order to achieve the women and girls’ compliance, Ivan Salazar, along with his co-conspirators, threatened the women and girls and created a climate of fear to compel and maintain their prostitution.
  • USA101 United States v Mammedov et al
  • In 2005, Defendants Alex Babaev and his partner, Asker Mammedov, plead guilty to charges of sex trafficking.  Between 2003 and  2004 the defendants brought women to the United States from Azerbaijan, using promises, threats and violence to coerce the women into coming with them.  The women were openly recruited to work as prostitutes in the United States, however after arriving the defendants took all of the victims’ money instead of the 50% agreed upon. The defendants maintained control over the victims by threats, force and confiscation of identification such as passports.  Babaev was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Mammedov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and $325,000 restitution. The restitution order was vacated and remanded for further proceedings (record did not show District Court judge considered mandatory factors set out in U.S. v. Walker, required to vacate restitution order).
  • USA146 United States v Kyongja Kang
  • Husband and wife defendants Wun Hee Kang and Kyongja Kang owned nail salons and a bar called Renaissance in Queens, New York. They convinced young women from South Korea to come to the US to work for them, based on promises of a $40/day wage, plus tips. When the women arrived in the United States, they were brought to a house in Flushing and forced to give over their passports and other travel documents. They were also forced to sign a promissory note, promising to pay back $20,000 to the Kangs for their smuggling. The women worked at Renaissance 6 days a week, in approximately 6.5 hour shifts—for $30/day, not the promised $40/day. Furthermore, they were required to turn over all their wages and tips over to the Kangs in repayment of their $20,000 smuggling debt. The women were told that they were not paying off their debt quickly enough, and should start having sex with clients to make more money, as the other workers did. When they refused, the women were threatened with violence. Mr. Kang also raped them, beat them, and locked them up in a basement during this time. In September of 2003, one victim left the house in Flushing and went to a police station to report what was happening. The police came and interviewed the Kangs, who denied any wrongdoing. The Defendants then sought out Defendant Yushuvayev, an Inspector for Customs and Border Protection, and Defendant Koo, an Air Marshall for the US, to help them “deport” the cooperating witnesses. Yushuvayev impersonated an INS agent and attempted to force one of the cooperating victims to board an airplane back to South Korea—she became suspicious and escaped from him.
  • USA024 United States v. Okhotina
  • In January 2003, Alana Okhotina 35, a Russian national of West Hollywood, a city in the county of Los Angeles, smuggled her eighteen year old niece from a small town near St. Petersburg into the United States from Russia and forced her to work as a prostitute to repay her smuggling debt. Investigators said Okhotina paid $6,000 to obtain a fraudulent visa for her niece and then forced her to have sex with men in February 2003 in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Okhotina took the money that her niece received for prostituting herself. Her niece, told investigators that Okhotina hid her passport, destroyed her plane ticket home, and subjected her to regular beatings, threats and rape by strangers. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The defendant threatened to kill the victim and her family if she did not comply, and told her that she would be arrested if she went to the police because she was here in the United States illegally. The younger woman, who has since returned to Russia, was freed after she called police.
  • USA084 United States v. Zheng et al
  • Zheng and Liu opened a brothel in Saipan, CNMI, called the Tea House. They advertised for waitresses, performers, and service workers with a Chinese recruiting company.The ads suggested the women would earn $3,000-4,000 per month and would have to pay a $6,000 fee for transport to the CNMI from China. The victims saw the ads and agreed to be waitresses. When they arrived in the CNMI, they learned they would be involved with prostitution. Although the women protested, they were forced to work as prostitutes from October 2004 to June 2005 when they went to the FBI. The FBI conducted an investigation that led to the conviction of the two defendants.
  • USA063 United States v. Mario Weicks
  • On two occasions, the defendant Mario Weicks took a 15-year-old girl from Sacramento, California to Las Vegas, Nevada to engage her in prostitution. The proceeds of which Weicks took from the girl, and he also engaged in sexual activity with the girl.
  • USA070 United States v. Mariece Sims
  • The defendants Mariece Sims and Dwayne B. Thigpen abducted a 16-year-old girl from Arkansas and prostituted her at locations in the Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi. According to testimony at the Sims’ trial, the defendants used physical violence, including at least in one incident of sexual assault, and threats to force the victim into prostitution. At point, the victim attempted to seek help at an Atlanta police station, but she testified that she left without making a report after tiring of waiting. When she emerged from the police station, she was physically assaulted by Sims.The defendant Thigpen pleaded guilty to transporting the victim with intent that she engage in criminal sexual activity. He was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment with 5 years of supervised release. A federal jury found Sims guilty of kidnapping, forced labor, sex trafficking of children, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He was sentenced to life in prison – reduced to 28 years on appeal – with an additional five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.
  • USA022 United States v. Maksimenko and United States v. Prokopenko
  • Following the escape of several exotic dancers who sought the assistance of federal law enforcement, Aleksandr Maksimenko and Michail Aronov were indicted in February 2005 on charges of forced labor. Aleksandr Masimenko, 26, is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Ukraine, who resided in Livonia, Michigan. Michail Aronov is a Lithuanian citizen from the Chicago area and associate of Masimenko. The defendants recruited Russian and Ukrainian women to travel to the United States and held them in a condition of servitude in strip clubs in south-eastern Michigan. At least nine women were held by the defendants since 2001 by confiscating the dancers’ passports, imposing large debts, enforcing rules designed to isolate the dancers from potential rescuers through interrogations, monetary penalties, physical violence, and threats, searching the dancers’ apartments, and threatening to turn the dancers in to authorities because of their illegal immigration status. On September 8, 2005, Aronov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit slavery, immigration violations, and money laundering. As part of his guilty plea, Aronov agreed to forfeit more than $500,000 in proceeds of his crimes. Maksimenko’s wife, mother, and stepmother pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice in the wake of the men’s arrest. According to Aronov’s plea agreement, Maksimenko forced the dancers to engage in sexual relations with him, regardless of their desires or consent, by intimidating and threatening them with arrest and deportation, and by reminding them that they owed him a debt for employing them.
  • USA082 United States v. Don L. Elbert II
  • The defendant Don Elbert trafficked three sisters, a 15-year old, and two 14-year old twins, in Kansas City, Missouri. According to information provided by the victims to law enforcement, Elbert picked up the victims shortly after meeting them outside of a liquor store. Elbert then coerced the victims – who lived with him – into engaging in commercial sex acts. Elbert demanded that each child earn a minimum of $60 each night. The girls were not permitted to leave the streets until Elbert was satisfied that they had earned enough money. Elbert warned the children they he was monitoring them at all times, and had sexually assaulted all three victims.
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2 thoughts on “Not In Our Own Backyard

  1. Thank you so much for being an ally and enlightening people on these injustices. I’ve been working closely with the community through my involvement with AF3IRM, a transnational feminst orginazation that works on social justice issues including human trafficking and anti-militarism. Thanks again for posting this information and helping spread the word about these crimes.

    Like

    • You’re very welcome!

      We should get together and talk sometime about this. I’d love to hear your thoughts on solutions and additional work that can be done. Human trafficking is an issue that needs more of a spotlight shown on it. There are great organizations fighting hard against a growing problem and they need all the help we can give to bring increase awareness in the sociopolitical consciousness.

      Like

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