House Judiciary Committee Passes H.R. 1865 to Fight Online Sex Trafficking

December 12, 2017

Today, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte, passed HR 1865, the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.” This bill amends section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that has been misinterpreted to protect websites like Backpage that sell children for sex online. The bill still needs to be passed in Congress, but this is a huge step to combatting sex trafficking online!


Pimp Sentenced to 40 Years for Sex Trafficking by Force

November 20, 2017

Here is yet another case of sex trafficking in Virginia. A 40-year-old man living in California and Virginia by the name of Naeem Lateef Odums was sentenced to 40 years for sex trafficking by force. Odums used extreme physical abuse, threats, and manipulation to force “Jane Doe 1” into sex trafficking via an online website known to promote prostitution. Jane Doe 1 was forced to engage in commercial sex acts in 7 states over 9 years, and Odums tried to trick two more women as well. Sex trafficking is happening all around us and in our own backyards. We are thankful that some pimps are receiving convictions, but there is still much work to be done.

Tenn., Va. receive human trafficking report cards

November 15, 2017

Every year, Shared Hope, a leading anti-sex trafficking organization, grades each state on the strength of its laws addressing child sex trafficking and produces legal analysis for stakeholders. On November 16, 2017, the updated report cards were released, and Virginia ranked near the bottom of the list with a score of 71 out of 100. This is an improvement from 2015 when Virginia received an ‘F’, but we still have a long way to go.

FBI Announces Results of Operation Cross Country XI

October 18, 2017

In mid-October, the FBI launched a nationwide sweep called Operation Cross Country where they have been attempting to recover children across the United States involved in sex trafficking. This operation is part of a national initiative called Innocence Lost through which the FBI was able to rescue 84 children this year alone, including a 5-year-old and a 3-month-old.

Giles County man gets 7 years for human trafficking

October 5, 2017

For over 15 years, Gary Gusler raised money for incarcerated women’s bonds so that they would be released and take them to his house to force them to have solicited sex. Gusler once told an inmate during a recorded phone call, “If you hire an escort in Roanoke for $250 you get her for a couple of hours but if you bond them out you can keep them all weekend.”

More than 1,000 arrests in sex trafficking operation

August 4, 2017

“A pastor, a state trooper and a convicted sex offender were among 1,000 people arrested in a monthlong period trying to sell or buy sex across the country…”

House passes sweeping overhaul of law to combat human trafficking

July 12, 2017

“The bill allocates $520 million over four years toward programs that aim to identify and aid victims of trafficking and prevent it from occurring.”

Man pleads guilty to sex trafficking woman in Virginia, California for 9 years

June 6, 2017

Odum is charged after forcing a woman into sexual slavery for nine years in Virginia and California. Internet evidence indicates he may have been exploiting other women. He now faces  a potential life sentence for his crime.

Experts say they’ve seen human trafficking at “every high school in Northern Va.”

June 6, 2017

Human trafficking detective debunks common misconceptions about trafficking and explains that many victims still go to school everyday and even sleep in their own beds. The truth is that every high school and many middle schools in Northern VA have been touched by human trafficking. The Department of Justice estimates “that by 2020 trafficking will surpass not only the drug trade but arms sales.”

Rescuing Sex Slaves with Soap and Paper

June 5, 2017

Group uses soap to reach out to potential trafficking victims. By simply placing bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on the wrappers in motels and hotels around DC, one girl has already been saved.

Roanoke man sentenced to 10 years on child pornography charge

May 23rd, 2017

After downloading and transferring hardcore child porngraph to another individual, Roanoke man is sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

Giles man arrested, charged with human trafficking

May 10, 2017

54 year old man arrested for one count of abduction and two counts of human trafficking in New River Valley. Gusler is accused of exploiting women, who he would bond out of jail, into sexual acts by threatening to revoke their bond if they refused to comply.

Former YMCA employee took explicit photos with children

February 17, 2017

Roanoke YMCA employee jailed for distribution of child pornography. The 22 year old woman was arrested for producing and distributing child pornography of a prepubescent boy with the intent of sharing the explicit material with those with whom she had an online relationship.

Virginia introduces new law for schools to help curb human trafficking
June 2, 2017

In response to being ranked 15th in the country for the most reported cases of human trafficking in 2016, Virginia is introducing a new law promoting education in schools about trafficking for pertinent staff members.  The implementation of House Bill 2282 into Virginia schools will help protect and educate the youngest and most vulnerable victims of this heinous crime. raided, CEO arrested for sex-trafficking
October 6, 2016

After years of Backpage profiting millions of dollars from trafficking adults and children through escort ads posted on the site, CEO Carl Ferrer was “arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.”

Six arrested in prostitution sting in Bristol
September 28, 2016

Six people from Bristol, VA, including Virginia State Trooper Randy Osborne, are charged with solicitation of prostitution after responding to a Craigslist ad.

New partnership to combat human trafficking in Virginia
July 20, 2016

“Virginia law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are teaming up to fight human trafficking.” Training sessions will educate state law enforcement, activists, and community stakeholders how to recognize a victim in need of intervention and how to respond.

Vinton man sentenced to 13 years for sex trafficking
June 29, 2016

Terrell Banker is sentenced to 13 years in federal prison, and co-defendant Laura Cook is sentenced to over four years in prison. The woman initiated contact with the 17-year-old victim, took her into her home, used illegal drugs with her, and eventually introduced her to Banker, who prostituted the runaway girl as a way to earn money.

Roanoke man pleads guilty to sex trafficking, methamphetamine, and gun charges
June 17, 2016

Sex trafficker Brandon Thomas admits to running a prostitution business that operated out of hotels in Roanoke and Charlottesville. For nearly half a year, the 25-year-old trafficker “beat and threatened to beat the women, and took advantage of their drug dependencies, to compel their prostitution services.”

Stuarts Draft student shares human trafficking experience
February 27, 2016

14-year-old Falon Smith of Stuarts Draft almost became a victim of sex trafficking when a 28-year-old man from Harrisonburg started a conversation with her over texting. After getting her parents and law enforcement involved, the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office investigated the situation and caught her predator, who planned to “abduct Smith to Mexico and make her a sex slave, or to bring her back to Harrisonburg, rape her and then kill her.”

Trucker saves tortured young woman from alleged sex trafficking couple in Virginia
February 14, 2015

In New Kent County, a couple is charged with federal crime of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. A report from a truck driver leads police to find a disheveled, malnourished 20-year-old sex trafficking victim with puncture wounds and numerous burns on her abdomen, groin and back.

Roanoke organization plans to open Street Ransom human trafficking shelter
January 26, 2015

Street Ransom’s road to opening Virginia’s first crisis shelter for sex trafficking victims under 18 years old.