Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Jersey pimped sentenced to 18 years for human trafficking

A pimp known as "Prince" received an 18-year prison sentence today for leading a Jersey City prostitution ring built on human trafficking, sex slavery and illegal drug use, New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow said.

For more than two decades, police say, Allen Brown lured girls into the sex trades with a mix of narcotics and, at times, pure coercion. The houses of prostitution he established in Jersey City were "stables" of strung-out girls, often locked into rooms and stripped of keys, cell phones and all forms of identity.

Brown, who in April pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion, ran his operation with scores of girls he had brought from Camden, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and other communities.
“Allen Brown exploited vulnerable young women, imprisoning them in a life of prostitution and narcotics addiction,” said Dow.

“Now it is his turn to face prison, where he will not be able to harm any more women.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

FBI and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute fighting human trafficking

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There are children in Birmingham right now who are being forced into prostitution and even sex slavery.
That's the message the FBI and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are trying to spread during a 2-day conference on human trafficking that started Sunday.

"We realized there were a lot of myths around human trafficking, the biggest being that it really doesn't affect people in Birmingham and Alabama," said Patricia Cooper, a staff member at the BCRI.

FBI agents at the Institute Sunday said not only is human trafficking a problem in Birmingham and the state, it's one that is growing by the week.

"Agricultural regions are another area where labor trafficking is starting to raise its head," said FBI Special Agent Dana Gillis. "And you see a lot of trafficking in the sex industry in areas both rural and in the city."

Whether it's migrant workers in the country illegally or children forced to work as prostitutes, the FBI and Civil Rights Institute are trying to shine a light on the problem in the hope that more attention can get more action from the community.

"One of them is being aware and sensitive of the situation," Cooper said. "Does it seem right if someone seems as if they're being coerced, for young people if they're not living at home. Just those telltale signs and for us to at least be willing to inquire."

Here are some more warning signs that the FBI says could mean there is human trafficking going on in your neighborhood:
-If you see an unusually large number of people living in a single-family home
-If you see individuals who go from home to work and straight back with no signs of any kind of social life
-Frequent police activity at the home

Cooper says those could all be signs that it is time to answer both of these questions: "What does it look like and then what do we do about it?"
If you see signs that someone in your area could be running a human trafficking ring, the FBI wants to hear from you at (205)326-6166.

A new state law was signed 2 weeks ago that makes human trafficking a felony in Alabama.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Human Trafficking in America: a different kind of “drug war”

By Sheryl Young

It’s something Americans associate with a few European or third world countries. But the U.S. State Department’s 2009 “Trafficking in Humans” Report documents problems in 175 nations.
Girls, women, children and even teen boys are being deceived, kidnapped, trapped and shipped everywhere from America to Africa.
And it could be happening at our neighborhood mini-market.

From California to New England, the problem is spreading within the United States. It’s becoming as uncontrollable as the drug war that has raged for decades, despite the government’s best efforts.

The estimated FBI numbers from sources as varied as ABC Primetime in 2006 to Christianity Today in 2010 show 100,000-300,000 teens and children under the age of 18 have been trafficked within the states per year.

It is harder to obtain statistics for adult victims, because of a finer line between “voluntary” and forced prostitution or sexual slavery.

In April 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s office brought sex trafficking charges against the Gambino family, notoriously reputed to be part of the elusive “mob” in America.

With the arrest of 14 people, the charges include trapping girls to sell for sex at high stakes poker games in the middle of busy Manhattan.

Engaging in human trafficking is a new low even for the mob, U.S. Attorney’s office representatives stated in a press conference covered by MSNBC.

Also in April, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that human trafficking has become the biggest “invisible” crime in the state. Florida House Bill 633 and Senate Bill 966 are currently being proposed to help law enforcement push back against the sex slavery trade.
How can this happen in America?

The massive amounts of money to be made through human trafficking is a powerful aphrodisiac that has enticed more people, even women, to deal in such crimes. In the Gambino case, one of the people arrested was a woman known to be involved in luring the victims.

The process of obtaining victims for human trafficking:
For most teen girls and women, if they are not outright kidnapped, they’re being enticed by the possibility of modeling or acting jobs. The Hollywood dream of obtaining fame and fortune at a young age through television and movies has become an obsession.

When they get to their destination, they are thrown into vehicles or locked in back bedrooms and sold to countless customers for sex acts, sexual abuse, and to appear in pornographic movies against their will.

They may be starved, drugged, verbally abused to the point of having no self-esteem, and threatened with death if they attempt to escape.

For girls and boys who do run away from home, criminals recognize their vulnerability, hunger and brokenness and are able to entice them into prostitution and porn films with the promise of money. The victim may receive tiny payments to keep them involved.

For children, it often starts with simple nabbing from neighborhoods.

A U.S. Government grant helped reveal the child trafficking problem:
In 2008, an organization called Shared Hope International (SHI) applied for and received a government grant to study the suspected nationwide crisis of child trafficking between states. Their resulting survey revealed that many of the children were often being misidentified as delinquents, and punished for crimes when they were actually victims.

Since then, the FBI and agencies such as the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families have started training personnel to recognize when a person is a human trafficking victim instead of a runaway or criminal themselves (HHS Fact Sheet here).