February 26, 2019
Last week, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was accused of soliciting a prostitute at a “spa” in Jupiter, Florida. He along with two dozen other men were charged for soliciting prostitution, which was a part of a human trafficking sting that nabbed massage parlors in Florida. And while this story generated national news headlines, it brought awareness to the deeper issue of sex and human trafficking at massage parlors across the United States.
February 15, 2019
This past Friday, a 13 year old victim courageously testified against her pimp. The man posed as a mother on Facebook advertising a babysitting job. When the girl arrived at his Brooklyn apartment, he held her at gunpoint, sexually assaulted her, and then pimped her out. He then trafficked the girl over the course of 11 months. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
January 9, 2019
On Tuesday, President Trump signed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act.The law provides many things including resources for trafficking prevention education for children, shelters and therapies, the facilitation of trafficking-free supply chains in the United States, training of government officials as well as airline industry employees, and oversight to ensure government purchases are not employing traffickers.
February 13, 2019
The Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, started just over 2 years ago, has been very busy and is not slowing down. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Lamonea says there have been more and more tips. In 2018 alone there were 89 new investigations.
February 6, 2019
Rebekah Marquez and Keith Farmer had a wonderful interview with Leanna Scachetti from WDBJ7 this past Wednesday! They talked about the mission and goals of Street Ransom, our shelter and fundraising costs associated with it, and the facts behind the blaring issue of sex trafficking in the area.
February 5, 2019
AI technology is being used by engineers and researchers to help combat sex trafficking happening in hotels. “Traffickers often take photos of their victims in hotel rooms to use in online escort ads. Now, boffins are trying to use machine-learning software to help cops and non-profits identify where these victims are being held based on patterns discerned from the ad images.”
January 31, 2019
Authorities in Atlanta have arrested 33 people on sex trafficking charges and have rescued four victims ahead of the Super Bowl. Although sex trafficking is an everyday occurrence and the Super Bowl is not an isolated event for trafficking, it is encouraging to see law enforcement take action before this event where many women and children have a potential to be trafficked.
January 29, 2019
A second of three Ohio ministers accused of enticing teen girls to have sex with them pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges that include child sex trafficking.Cordell Jenkins pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Another minister has already pleaded guilty, and the third is scheduled to go on trial next week.
January 23, 2019
In exciting news, the Mississippi House passed a bill that prevents victims of sex trafficking who are under the age of 18 from having charges filed against them. Instead, these victims would be taken into protective custody and counseling would be provided for them.
January 17, 2019
Google engineers are working with nonprofits to combat sex trafficking that is happening online. One of organizations they worked with is Thorn, a nonprofit founded by Ashton Kutcher that seeks to protect children from child abuse and sex trafficking. These engineers set out to make online advertisements exploiting young women for sex more easily available to law enforcement in order to facilitate the recovery of these victims.
January 16, 2019
A raid by Florida cops on a squalid mobile home revealed two teenage boys — one of whom had been repeatedly sexually abused — who had been lured from their families via an online gaming app, police said Monday.
January 8, 2019
A Mexia Independent School District teacher was arrested Wednesday on a human trafficking charge after she tried to sell a minor child to multiple men online in Morocco, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.
January 7, 2019
Gov. Bill Haslam announced his decision to grant executive clemency to Nashville inmate Cyntoia Brown on Monday. Brown will be released on parole supervision on Aug. 7, 2019, after serving 15 years in prison.
October 3, 2018
A new report that is the first of its kind shows the statistics on the number of federal human trafficking cases across the country over the past decade. Out of all states and U.S. territories, Virginia ranks 6th for the most human trafficking cases on federal court dockets. The hope is that the data found can be used to help policy makers across the country.
July 20, 2018
Abdul Karim Bangura Jr. aka “AJ”, 22, of Triangle, Virginia pleaded guilty in August 2017 to all counts of an indictment charging him with sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a 15-year-old minor, interstate transportation of a minor for the purposes of prostitution, and production of child pornography. He was sentenced today to 186 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release.
July 17, 2018
Two Virginia men are charged in an alleged prostitution ring in which authorities say women were driven to clients’ doors and replaced with new women weekly. Luis Bonilla-Hernandez, 32, ran the operation out of his Sterling home. Also arrested was 22-year-old Eliazar Duran-Mota of Herndon, who is accused of being a driver in the operation.
July 17, 2018
Ramon Raudel Campos Murillo, an associate of the brutal international gang MS-13, is wanted for his role in operating an interstate prostitution ring, which also included the trafficking of a known minor across state lines in the Eastern District of Virginia.
June 1, 2018
“Three people are accused of being in a sex trafficking ring that could extend from Virginia Beach to Alabama… At this point, none of the suspects have asked for bond hearings. They are scheduled to have preliminary hearings on July 26.”
May 11, 2018
Two Maryland men are heading to prison for the next 26 years after they were convicted for sex trafficking three minors throughout the East Coast in areas including Richmond, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia.
May 2, 2018
An investigation following reports of a sex trafficking ring in the Manassas area revealed that a victim, an adult woman, was lured to the Northern Virginia region from Florida by a man later identified as Jovan Hibberts and turned over to Amber McMains, an associate under Hibberts’ control.
April 24, 2018
As part of an ongoing investigation by the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, authorities arrested two Virginia men. The two men were Jason Marquis, 39, of Coleman Falls, VA, and Timothy Clark, 23, of Buena Vista, VA.
April 16, 2018
A five-day jury trial began Monday in Albemarle County for a man accused of engaging in commercial sex trafficking in the late summer and early fall of 2015, when he forced a woman to work as a prostitute throughout Virginia, including Roanoke, Lynchburg and Charlottesville. In what prosecutors call a high-level sex trafficking case, 34-year-old Quincy M. Edwards is accused of holding a woman against her will, using a gun to intimidate her and placing advertisements on Backpage.
April 11, 2018
On April 10, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the FOSTA/SESTA package into law, with immediate effect. This law weakens a legal shield for online services that host abusive content, including sex trafficking.
April 5, 2018
On March 27th, Virginia State Police arrested Jarrett D. Henshaw, a 35-year-old Roanoke native, on three felony counts of online solicitation of a minor. Henshaw is infamous for being at the center of a 2003 controversy at Virginia Tech surrounding “Sex Talk Live” — a live show broadcast on Virginia Tech’s student-run campus television station VTTV that covered a variety of sexual topics.
March 28, 2018
36-year-old Erin Graham Jr. has been charged with sex trafficking charges for taking two women from Wisconsin to Virginia and forcing them into sex trafficking in June of 2016. If he is charged, he faces 15 years to life in prison.
March 26, 2018
Keith Raniere, also known as “The Vanguard” to members within the organization, was charged today in Brooklyn federal court with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit forced labor. The charges arise from Raniere’s alleged role as the leader of a secret society within NXIVM.
March 8, 2018
Yesterday, Governor Ralph Northam signed into law a bill (HB 1260) that will make it more difficult for people charged with human trafficking crimes to post bail. It will take effect on July 1.
March 7, 2018
Shawn Paul Paisley, a 48-year-old resident of Salem, pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Paisley admitted that he helped run an escort service in Roanoke, which involved recruiting females to engage in sex for pay, including at least two 17-years-old girls.
February 6, 2018
Justin Shayne Robinson, 26, of Washington DC and accomplice Markus Jakeem Plummer, 27, of Woodbridge pleaded guilty to sex trafficking a 16-year-old girl in Springfield, VA. She was held in a motel by means of violence and forced to service about 5 clients per day for a week before she escaped.
January 30, 2018
In Richmond, House Bill 1592 is passing through Virginia’s General Assembly and seeks to prevent trafficking by making pornography less accessible on the internet. There is also a new shelter opening up in Richmond that will be a transitional shelter for survivors.
January 11, 2018
This morning, people rallied on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass SESTA (The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act). Legislatures and survivors also met together to discuss this critical piece that will close the legal loophole that allows exploiters to escape liability for knowingly facilitating trafficking.
December 19, 2017
On Monday December 18th, two men were found guilty of running a sex trafficking ring that spanned Washington D.C. and 6 states (including Virginia). The girls and women that they sold were advertised on Backpage and were ages 13-21. The men ran the sex trafficking ring from July 2012 until January 2015.
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!
December 5, 2017
On December 1, New Jersey Police announced the arrests of 77 men and 2 teenage boys during a 9-month long investigation to find child predators and child pornography offenders. Among the men arrested, there was a complete diversity of race, age, and occupation. The offenders ranged from the ages of 14 to 75 and included a youth pastor, a swim coach, a police officer, a piano teacher, and a juvenile filming other students in the bathroom. The youngest victim was 2 years old.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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…”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
May 23rd, 2017
After downloading and transferring hardcore child porngraph to another individual, Roanoke man is sentenced to ten years in federal prison.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
January 26, 2015
Street Ransom’s road to opening Virginia’s first crisis shelter for sex trafficking victims under 18 years old.