Law Enforcement & Social Service Agencies Form Working Group to Combat Human Trafficking
Las Vegas, Nev. - Members of local, state and federal law enforcement and social service agencies have formed a new working group in Nevada to identify and aid the victims of human trafficking, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada. In early July, Attorney General Ashcroft announced that Nevada had been selected as one of 20 Districts to participate in a new Department of Justice initiative involving human trafficking. On July 15, 2004, a team from Nevada attended the first-ever national Department of Justice training conference on human trafficking in Tampa, Florida. They learned how to uncover and investigate cases, and how to provide services to trafficking victims. Upon returning to Nevada, the team became the foundation of a new working group to address human trafficking concerns in Nevada.
Trafficking in persons, a modern day form of slavery, involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel individuals to engage in prostitution or sex entertainment, or to work in sweatshops, as domestic labor or child soldiers, and in many forms of involuntary servitude. Traffickers prey on the poor and unemployed, and those who lack access to social safety nets, predominantly women and children in certain countries. Human trafficking is distinguished from migrant smuggling, in that it involves coercion and the exploitation of a person for labor or commercial sex and need not entail the physical movement of a person.
Human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States and throughout the world. Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked against their will across international borders. Of those, 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into America.
"Though at this time, the number of reported cases of human trafficking appears low in Nevada, all indications are that there are more victims who have not been identified," says U.S. Attorney Bogden. "The focus of this working group will be to uncover and investigate those cases, and ensure that services are provided to victims."
Tomorrow, the new working group will participate in additional human trafficking training in Las Vegas, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The training is being offered to members of Nevada law enforcement, the legal community, human service providers, educators and others. One of the topics on the training agenda is the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA), signed into law on October 28, 2000. The VTVPA supplements existing laws and establishes new tools and resources to combat trafficking in persons and to provide services and protections for victims. Prior to the enactment of the VTVPA, no comprehensive federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. Victims of human trafficking who are not U.S. citizens are now eligible for a special visa and can receive benefits and services through the VTVPA to the same extent as refugees. Victims of trafficking who are U.S. citizens may already be eligible for many benefits due to their citizenship. Other topics at the training include identifying and investigating trafficking cases and victim issues in trafficking cases.
Members of the Nevada Human Trafficking Working Group include the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, Nevada Office of the Attorney General, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County District Attorney's Office, State of Nevada Division of Child and Family Services, University of Nevada Sociology Department, University of Nevada Boyd School of Law, Shade Tree, the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence, SAFE House, and many other organizations.
You can report trafficking crimes or get help by calling the Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at (800) 428-7581. Operators have access to interpreters and can talk with callers in their own language. The service is offered on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific Time. After those hours, information is available on tape in English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin. Locally, report suspected instances of trafficking or worker exploitation to the local FBI at (702) 385-1281, or to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at (702) 388-6818.
FEDERAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROSECUTIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA
SEPTEMBER 28, 2004
United States v. Quinton Williams
On June 20, 2003, Quinton Williams was sentenced to 125 months in prison for operating an interstate prostitution business in which he transported women, including minors, from various cities to Las Vegas, Nevada, for prostitution and other illegal sexual activity. On April 3, 2003, Quinton Williams, was convicted by a jury in Las Vegas of Transporting a Minor for Prostitution, Transporting an Adult for Prostitution, Sex Trafficking of Children, Money Laundering, and Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering. During 2001, Williams transported a 16-year-old juvenile and adult prostitute by automobile from Chicago to Portage, Indiana; Houston, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; and Las Vegas, Nevada. Williams supervised their prostitution activities and kept all of their earnings. He had no legitimate source of income other than from their prostitution activity. Williams has prior felony convictions for Attempted Robbery and Narcotics Trafficking.
United States v. Cheryl Chadwick et al.
On May 26, 2004, Cheryl Chadwick, age 54, an attorney in Portland, Oregon, was indicted by the Federal Grand Jury in Las Vegas and charged with laundering money for a man who allegedly operated a prostitution business in Las Vegas. Cheryl Chadwick and two other defendants, Jonathan Duke Flake, aka Caribbean/aka Corey Robinson/aka Brandon Cashman, age 32, and Mearenet Biadegelegne, aka Katrina Scott, age 23, both of Portland, Oregon, were charged in a seven-count Superseding Indictment. Chadwick is charged with Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments and Money Laundering; Flake is charged with Transportation of Females for Prostitution, Transportation of Minors for Prostitution, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering; and Biadegelegne is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering and Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering. According to the court records, from approximately May 25, 2001, to September 30, 2002, Chadwick, Flake, and Biadegelegne allegedly conspired to conceal and disguise the source of funds used to pay Flake's personal, business and legal expenses. Chadwick allegedly maintained a bank account at U.S. Bank in Portland, Oregon, into which Flake, and prostitutes who worked for him, deposited monies they earned from prostitution in Las Vegas. Chadwick allegedly made withdrawals and wrote checks on the account for Flake's car payments and rent payments. Trial in the case is set for February 28, 2005.
United States v. Stanley Chan, et al.
On December 21, 2001, Stanley Chan, Dat Ming Leung, Yuk Ching Liu, Ru Xiang Zhao, and Dan Chau were sentenced on their convictions for conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants were involved in an international conspiracy in which they illegally smuggled Asian women into the United States and used them as prostitutes in brothels in Nevada, California, and other states. The Asian women were expected to pay the conspirators a fee for arranging their illegal entry into the United States. The women paid the fees by working as prostitutes at brothels operated by the conspirators. Typically the women worked two to three weeks at a brothel, and were then circulated to a new brothel, usually in a different state. Chan, Leung, and Liu operated the brothels in Las Vegas; Zhao operated an associated brothel; and Chau provided security for the brothels. Stanley Chan was sentenced to 52 months imprisonment; Dat Ming Leung was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment; Yuk Ching Liu was sentenced to 41 months imprisonment; Ru Xiang Zhao was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment; and Dan Chau was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment. Later, four other defendants involved in the conspiracy also entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Douglas Vinh Chau was sentenced to 30 months in prison; Tjui Ha was sentenced to 41 months in prison; Minh Buu Huynh was sentenced to 30 months in prison; and Cindy Tan was sentenced to 27 months in prison. The case arose from the FBI's and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Asian organized crime program. It represented the first significant prosecution of human trafficking and Asian organized crime elements in Las Vegas.
United States v. Dennis Obey
On January 20, 2004, Dennis Obey was indicted on two counts of Transportation of Juvenile for Prostitution for allegedly transporting a 15-year-old female runaway from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Phoenix, Arizona, and back, for the purpose of having the girl engage in prostitution. Obey allegedly threatened to kill the girl if she did not work as a prostitute for him. Obey purchased Greyhound bus tickets for himself and the girl, using an alias for the girl to conceal her identity. The girl was required to turn over all of her earnings to the defendant. If convicted, Obey is facing up to 15 years imprisonment on each count. Obey is a fugitive.