Northland man sentenced to 15 years for attempted
sex trafficking of a child
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for the attempted commercial sex trafficking of a child.
This case is the result of Operation Guardian Angel, a unique undercover law enforcement investigation targeting the demand for child prostitutes in the Kansas City metro area. As a result of this investigation, seven defendants have been convicted in the nation’s first-ever federal prosecution of the alleged customers of child prostitution under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Steven C. Albers, 42, of Kansas City-North, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Albers pleaded guilty on Sept. 16, 2009.
During the weekend of March 5 to 7, 2009, the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, led by the Independence Police Department, conducted a sting operation targeting local customers who solicit pimps to engage in commercial sex acts with children. The “children” were advertised online at Craig’s List. No real children were actually involved in the sting.
At approximately 9:33 a.m. on March 5, 2009, Albers responded via e-mail to an ad that advertised “little girls available.” The ad’s content clearly advertised the children for sex. Albers requested a lunch hour meeting so that he would have time to drive from his office near the Country Club Plaza. The undercover officer responded that he had an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl available for sex. In a follow-up e-mail, Albers said he wanted to spend an hour with an 11-year-old girl at a cost of $100. In an e-mail later that morning, Albers said he wanted to spend half an hour with the 11-year-old girl but would pay an extra $20 to go “bareback,” referring to sexual intercourse without a condom, for a total price of $80.
When Albers arrived at the undercover house for the meeting at approximately noon, he provided the cash to the undercover officer and the arrest team came out from the bedroom. Albers took off running out the front door. The arrest team chased him out the front door and caught him in the neighbor’s front yard, placing him under arrest at that time.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.
Operation Guardian Angel
Operation Guardian Angel was conducted by the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, a joint task force from the Independence Police Department, the FBI, ICE, and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department. During the undercover operation, task force officers placed Internet ads for underage prostitutes. According to court documents, the ads clearly stated that the prostitutes were “little girls” and were “young.” Those who responded to the ads were given directions to an undercover location that was outfitted with audio and video recording equipment. When they arrived at the undercover residence and paid cash for a child prostitute, they were arrested by task force officers.
This operation marks the first time that the U.S. Department of Justice has utilized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to prosecute customers who allegedly attempt to pay for sex with children. While the pimps who offer to sell children to others for prostitution have been prosecuted in the Western District and elsewhere, these indictments are the first in the nation to charge a “John” with attempting to pay for sex with a child.