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Connecticut Woman Sentenced for Role in Sex Trafficking Ring

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that Shanaya Hicks of Bloomfield, Conn., was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for her involvement in a prostitution ring that victimized minor girls and coerced young women to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.

Hicks and nine co-defendants were charged in a 64-count superceding indictment on August 8, 2006. Hicks pleaded guilty on March 14, 2007, to the following charges: two counts of sex trafficking of minors, two counts of sex trafficking of adult women (through force, fraud or coercion), and conspiracy. Eight other charged individuals, including co-defendant Brian Forbes, also pleaded guilty in the case. In June 2007, co-defendant Dennis Paris was convicted at trial for multiple charges including sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of adults (through force, fraud, and coercion), conspiracy, use of an interstate facility to promote prostitution, and money laundering. Co-defendant Forbes is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2008, and co-defendant Paris is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2008.

In this matter, co-defendant Forbes found and enticed young females, including minors, from states adjacent to Connecticut, and used a variety of threats to force the young women into providing sexual services to the ring’s clients in and around Hartford, Conn. Co-defendant Forbes used a variety of unlawful means to force the victims to repeatedly provide sexual services to the ring’s clients. Those means including physical threats and unlawful restraint. Defendant Hicks acted as Forbes’s assistant. Hicks’ duties included answering phones, booking prostitution calls, and driving the victims to their prostitution appointments in the Hartford-area. Hicks previously admitted knowing that Brian Forbes was using fraud and coercion to cause the victims to engage in commercial sex acts.

“These sex trafficking victims were vulnerable young women and girls,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Finding and stopping predators such as defendants Forbes and Hicks remains a top priority of the Department of Justice.”

“Federal law enforcement is committed to investigating and prosecuting sex trafficking crimes, particularly when minors are abused and women are forced to commit sexual acts against their will and under the threat of violence,” stated Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut

Human trafficking prosecutions such as this one are a top priority of the Department of Justice. In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation have increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years. In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.

This case was investigated by a law enforcement task force led by Detective Deborah Scates of the Hartford Police Department, Sergeant Chris McKee of the Windsor Police Department, Special Agent Chris Grispino of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Agent Douglas Werth of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Genco, and Special Litigation Counsel Andrew J. Kline of the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.