ANTI-TRAFFICKING NEWS BULLETIN
IN THIS ISSUE:
- DOJ Delegation Assesses Trafficking Partnership with UNODC in India
- Deputy Assistant Attorney General Testifies Before a Senate Subcommittee on Human Trafficking
- International Highlights
- DOJ Trafficking Team Leader is Honored Guest at International Trafficking Conference
- Victim/Witness Coordinator Travels to Russia and Malawi
- HTP Unit Director Trains Tanzanian Police and Prosecutors
- Training and Technical Assistance
- Case Updates
As part of the Department of Justice’s participation in the President’s Trafficking Initiative, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim led a delegation to India in June to conduct a management review of a United States funded anti-trafficking program that is operating in five of India’s seventeen states. The program, administered by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), was initially designed in 2004 by a team of trafficking specialists from the Civil Rights Division and UNODC criminal interdiction professionals. The DOJ delegation also included Evan Young, Counsel to the Attorney General, and T. March Bell, Civil Rights Division Senior Counsel for Human Trafficking.
“India faces serious capacity problems in its criminal justice system and is a nation in which 700 million people live on less than two dollars a day,” explained AAG Wan Kim. “We are always pleased to share the experiences of the Civil Rights Division in combating trafficking and to talk about lessons learned with people of good will who seek to combat this modern day form of slavery.” The delegation received a comprehensive briefing from the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) prior to departing and was presented with an on-the-ground analysis from the United States Embassy’s anti-trafficking team.
The formal management review yielded a professionally-administered and comprehensive anti-trafficking program that includes training for police, prosecutors, and judges. This training is combined with the formation of partnerships with non-governmental organizations that provide restorative care shelters and conduct rescue and street outreach operations. One very encouraging aspect of the program is the institutionalizing of trafficking training in the official Police Academy in Adra Pradesh. “By training all graduates of the academy in the victim-centered approach, a whole new generation of trained police is changing the culture of Hyderabad. There are already over two hundred trafficking cases,” said AAG Kim. The delegation was very encouraged by the leadership of police professional Dr. P.M Nair who has written a book length study of trafficking and best practices. Dr. Nair is the leader of the UNODC program. Especially impressive are his efforts as liaison with the judiciary that will obtain a faster court docket for trafficking cases. Completed cases are a proven way to solidify a trafficking program – police see that their rescues paid off, perpetrators are held accountable, and procedures and practices of all members of the anti-trafficking team are reinforced.
India is a land of great contrasts. The delegation was taken into a brothel area in New Delhi by two members of a non-governmental organization that conducts brothel outreach and rescues. This was an opportunity to meet several women in their twenties who explained that they entered the brothel when they were young teenagers. During the discussion, the delegation learned that the young women rarely left the building and that they were sadly reconciled to this life. “What could I do now,” one woman said, “This is what my life is.” These are haunting and heartbreaking words. We later asked Indian government officials whether the statute of limitations allowed the trafficker of these women to be prosecuted and the good news is that a recent Indian legal change has made this possible.
The delegation also visited Prajwala, a non-governmental organization that provides training and housing for former victims. The facility was buzzing with activity. Some rescued victims were learning welding, while others learned bricklaying and still others were assembling desks for local schools. Prajwala was founded by a Catholic brother and a Hindu nun and maintains a sophisticated print shop that sells its products to local business and schools. “The restorative care provides real jobs that lead to independence and economic security for the women,” explained Dr. Sunitha Krishnan. In all, the facility trains rescued trafficking victims in 14 different trades. Before leaving the facility, the team met with about 35 youthful and cheerful former victims who were just returning from a one-month home stay with families that take them in during the summer. All of the girls, some preteenagers, introduced themselves after it was explained to the delegation that all were HIV positive as a result of their abuse and are taking retro virus medication.
The UNODC program is proceeding well in Andra Pradesh and, under the supervision of Dr. Nair, has taken actions so that officials from other program states and from other Indian jurisdictions can learn from the progress being made and can duplicate the success elsewhere.
On March 26, 2007, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. The topic of the hearing was “Legal Options to Stop Human Trafficking.” Following is a summary of Ms. Becker’s remarks, which are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/speeches/crt_speech_070326.html:
The Civil Rights Division’s human trafficking efforts continue at an unprecedented pace. Working with United States Attorneys’ Offices, the Civil Rights Division has prosecuted 360 human trafficking defendants, secured almost 240 convictions and guilty pleas, and opened nearly 650 new investigations since 2001. That represents a six-fold increase in the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, quadruple the number of defendants charged, and triple the number of defendants convicted in comparison to 1995-2000.
To build on the Civil Rights Division’s success in this area, the Attorney General recently approved the formation of the Human Trafficking Prosecution (HTP) Unit in the Civil Rights Division. The HTP Unit is the Department’s specialized enforcement unit focused exclusively on combating the crime of human trafficking. The new Unit enhances the Department’s ability to investigate and prosecute significant human trafficking and slavery cases, including those that cross jurisdictional boundaries and involve complex financial crimes. The Unit also serves as a resource for training, outreach, and policy development on human trafficking and slavery issues.
The HTP Unit provides training, technical assistance, and coordination with the 42 Anti-Trafficking Task Forces. These task forces are led by United States Attorneys and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Department initiated the Task Force program in 2004, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the jurisdictions with Task Forces are the jurisdictions that have seen an increase in trafficking cases. The Task Forces are a locally based, multi-disciplinary approach to investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases. Our goal at the Civil Rights Division is to work closely with our partners in the judicial districts and at the state level.
Of course, all these efforts consume enormous resources. One complex, multiple-victim case alone can require thousands of hours of attorney time. That is why the President, in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2008, has asked Congress for additional funds to address current case demands and to further enhance the Civil Rights Division’s anti-trafficking program. With your support, we can continue to build our human trafficking program – to identify and prosecute human trafficking crimes where they occur, and to restore the victims of this terrible crime.
After arriving, the DOJ team learned that Taiwan had just completed a national executive plan with responsibilities for each appropriate cabinet agency clearly delineated. Some agencies acquired new responsibilities to identify, investigate, prosecute, and restore victims. Taiwan also made resources available to carry out the plan.
The international conference is part of the plan to raise awareness and exchange ideas on best practices. Accordingly the conference included police, prosecutors, NGOs, judges, and legislators.
In her keynote address, DAAG Grace Chung Becker congratulated Taiwanese law enforcement for a recent case success involving Indonesian women and for the commitment to work in a collaborative manner. DAAG Becker also presented U.S. best practices and explained that trafficking cases are hard work but the rescue of victims makes overcoming the obstacles worthwhile. The American Institute also arranged a series of small discussions with key leaders in the Taiwan government, including law professors and executives of the Labor and Immigration Departments. In addition, Taiwan press coverage revealed a significant amount of public opinion support for addressing human trafficking.
Taiwan places huge emphasis on the prevention of human trafficking. In reality, such crimes are complicated and fraught with countless obstacles, making the identification of victims and the investigation of facts very difficult. In recent years, counseling networks, free channels for filing legal complaints, and service centers at airports have been established. However, it is still difficult to identify foreign maids who are victimized due to the difficulties in collecting concrete evidence. In the end, the prevention of trafficking in persons requires cooperation between the nations of origin and destination.
Since the conference, the U.S. and Taiwan have continued to discuss these and other important issues through video conferencing. This fall Taiwan will host a week long table top exercise with DOJ participation that will work through practical trafficking problems.
In June 2007, Ms. Grenadier participated in a program as part of Malawi’s Millenium Challenge program to focus on how to improve coordination, networking, and delivery of effective counter trafficking services by working in partnership between law enforcement (police and immigration), prosecutors, and NGOs. The program was presented in two cities, Lilongwe (the capital) and Blantyre. Co-presenters included Resident Legal Advisor Peter Strasser, Deputy Law Commissioner Austin Msowoya, NGO CEPTRAP’s executive director Literton Ndovi, and New York Times correspondent Michael Wines. Ms. Grenadier concluded both seminars with the theme that law enforcement, prosecutors, and NGOs need to work together to establish the victim’s trust, address his/her needs, and punish the trafficker. Each of the three bodies needs the others to make this happen, so they must work in harmony. The ideal sequence of events is that the police find the victim (the trick being knowing where to look and how to identify), conduct an investigation (either reactive or proactive), interview the victim (without retraumatizing), file charges and try the case, and sentence the offender (with the victim present in the courtroom) while all along working on repatriating the victim and providing services as needed. Ms. Grenadier used actual cases to illustrate victim needs; their physical, mental, and emotional issues; and how prosecutors have dealt with all this in putting cases together for trial. The bottom line is that restoring the victim is central to prosecution and prevention.
Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit Director Robert Moossy and Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Monica Ryan traveled to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in April 2007 at the invitation of the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT). This four-day seminar in trial advocacy skills was presented as part of the ongoing OPDAT trainings in Tanzania. Forty-eight Tanzanians attended the seminar, including State’s Attorneys (serious felony prosecutors), police prosecutors (felony and misdemeanor prosecutors), police officers, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. The curriculum included a day of legal overview of both Tanzanian and international laws implicated by human trafficking, a day and a half of human trafficking investigative strategies, and a day and a half of human trafficking prosecution strategies (including developing exhibits, testimony, arguments, and trial strategies). This program was offered immediately following a week-long program that focused in detail on basic investigation strategies as applied to human trafficking cases (e.g., raid planning, collecting forensic evidence, and taking witness statements).
This program was designed to familiarize Tanzanian prosecutors, investigators, and NGOs with the methods used by U.S. trial counsel in developing a human trafficking case for prosecution and presenting that case to a fact-finder – usually a judge under Tanzanian laws. Because Tanzania is in the process of drafting a human trafficking specific law, but does not have one yet, the course focused on prosecution strategies both under existing Tanzanian laws (e.g., regarding child labor and prostitution) and international human trafficking laws (primarily the Palermo Protocol).
The Civil Rights Division continues to provide extensive training and to work with task forces and NGOs throughout the country. Division attorneys have participated in bar association meetings and served as speakers and panelists at numerous human trafficking conferences, including the Freedom Network Conference in Miami, the Pittsburgh Conference on Human Trafficking, the Florida Human Trafficking Coalition Conference in Ft. Walton Beach, the Asian Gang Investigators’ Association of California International Terrorism and Organized Crime Conference in Anaheim, and the Mountain State Victim Assistance Symposium in Charleston, West Virginia. Staff members met with NGOs and foreign visitors from such diverse countries as Brazil, Chile, Georgia, Thailand, and Turkey to discuss human trafficking issues. In addition, the Civil Rights Division organized a human trafficking seminar at the Department’s National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina, which was attended by more than one hundred federal and local law enforcement officers as well as Justice Department prosecutors. The Division also delivered a televised training broadcast to all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Human Trafficking Task Forces on methods to identify human trafficking victims.
*An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants in the cases cited in this newsletter in which convictions have not been obtained are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
On June 14, 2007, a federal jury in Hartford, Connecticut, found Dennis Paris guilty for his role in the operation of a sex-trafficking ring. The jury convicted Paris of knowingly using minors, including a 14-year-old girl, in his prostitution business and also of using force, fraud, and various coercive means to compel two adult victims to perform commercial sex acts for his financial benefit. In addition to four counts of sex-trafficking, Paris was also found guilty of conspiracy and 13 counts related to the use of interstate facilities to promote and conduct a prostitution business, as well as three counts of money laundering. The defendant faces a sentence that ranges from 360 months to life in prison, and a fine of up to $1.5 million.
Paris was charged in a 21-count indictment in December 2006 for crimes related to his role in the operation of a prostitution and sex trafficking business from 2000 through 2004 in the Hartford area. Nine co-defendants in this case have previously pleaded guilty to federal charges including the sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion.
The evidence at trial proved that the defendant preyed upon the specific vulnerabilities of his victims including age, socioeconomic status, living situations, and drug addictions. He used these vulnerabilities and whatever manipulative means necessary to cause all four victims to engage in commercial sex acts for his benefit. The victims were also forced to engage in sex acts with the defendant against their will.
“Sex trafficking is an abhorrent crime that too often occurs in our own backyards, and too often victimizes children,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is a top priority of the Justice Department to root out and prosecute those who so ruthlessly victimize others.”
“The defendant was found guilty of conduct that clearly shows that prostitution is not a victimless crime,” said Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. “The federal government is committed to 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.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hartford and Windsor Police Departments, and the Internal Revenue Service.
On August 16, 2007, Michail Aronov, age 34, was sentenced to 90 months (7 Â½ years) in prison and to pay over $1 million in restitution and forfeit $641,550 for his role as one of the ringleaders in a conspiracy to force Eastern European women to work as exotic dancers in Detroit area strip clubs. Aronov was convicted for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the dancers through involuntary servitude, as well as immigration and money laundering conspiracies.
“Human trafficking is nothing short of modern-day slavery,” said Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute and bring to justice those who victimize some of society’s most vulnerable members.”
According to court papers, Aronov and his business partners operated a human trafficking ring which exploited Eastern European women and used the guise of a legitimate business – Beauty Search Inc. – to cover their criminal conduct. Aronov and his partners smuggled women into the United States and compelled them through threats and coercion to work as dancers in strip clubs, holding them in a condition of involuntary servitude.
The court decreased Aronov’s sentence because of his extensive cooperation with investigators in dismantling the Beauty Search operation. The court had previously ordered Aronov’s henchman, Aleksandr Maksimenko, to reimburse the women a total of $1,570,450 and to forfeit $957,050 in cash, part of which is to be used to satisfy a portion of the court’s restitution award. The court held Aronov jointly and severally responsible for $1,018,450 restitution, as well as the forfeited cash proceeds.
Aronov is the last of nine convicted defendants to be sentenced for crimes associated with this slavery and trafficking conspiracy. Aronov’s co-defendant, Maksimenko, received a sentence of 14 years incarceration earlier this summer. Maksimenko’s father, Veniamin Gonikman, remains a fugitive, and the investigative team continues to work with Ukrainian and European law enforcement authorities to investigate the full scope of the conspiracy.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the State Department Diplomatic Security Service.
In May 2006, Jefferson Calimlim, Sr., and his wife, Elnora Calimlim, who are both medical doctors, were convicted by a Milwaukee federal jury of forced labor. In 1985, the defendants recruited and brought a 19-year old young woman from the Philippines to the United States to be their domestic servant. Over the next 19 years, until federal agents removed her from the house in 2004, the woman was coerced, through fear and psychological harm, into being the doctors’ domestic servant for as little as 100 dollars a month. Although the victim in this case was never beaten, these defendants used psychological coercion to instill a fear of serious harm in the victim. The Calimlims threatened the victim with imprisonment if she disobeyed them and confined her inside their home. They did not allow her to socialize, to communicate freely with the outside world, nor to leave the house unsupervised. The victim was required to hide in her basement bedroom whenever non-family members were present in the house. The defendants used fear and intimidation to make the victim believe she had no choice but to remain in their service. On November 16, 2006, the defendants were sentenced to serve four years in prison. On February 14, 2007, the court ordered the defendants to pay the victim over $900,000 in restitution, based on calculations provided by a Labor Department wage expert.
On May 31, 2007, Joseph and Evelyn Djoumessi, both Cameroonian naturalized U.S. citizens, were sentenced by a judge in Detroit, Michigan, to 218 months and 60 months, respectively, for conspiracy related to their holding a young girl from Cameroon in involuntary servitude. Judge Arthur Tarnow also ordered the defendants to pay $100,000 in restitution to the victim.
In March 2006, a jury convicted defendant Evelyn Djoumessi and a judge convicted defendant Joseph Djoumessi after the government presented evidence that between October 1996 and February 2000 the defendants forced the Cameroonian girl, whom they had brought to the United States illegally, to work against her will as a domestic servant in the Djoumessi home. The jury found that Evelyn Djoumessi forced the girl to take care of the defendants’ children and perform household chores without pay and beat her with a belt, a spoon, and a shoe in order to force her to comply with these demands. The judge found that in addition to forcing her to work as a domestic servant, Joseph Djoumessi sexually abused the victim.
“The promise of freedom has brought millions of people to these shores,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Djoumessi’s had no right to deprive their victim of that freedom. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute and bring to justice those who victimize some of society’s most vulnerable members.”
The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The defendants, prior to enactment of the TVPA, had been charged in state court with child abuse and criminal sexual conduct, and were sentenced to serve 9 - 15 years in prison (Joseph) and placed on three years probation and ordered to do housework for three years (Evelyn). The victim, who had been denied a chance to attend school, recently graduated college and has appeared on the Montel Williams program.
On August 27, 2007, Jimmie Lee Jones, also known as “Mike Spade,” 31, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking and to transporting young women across state lines for purposes of prostitution. Just after his trial began, Jones admitted to U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. that he had lured and coerced eight young women B including two juveniles B into prostitution.
“The defendant in this case took advantage of numerous young women by enticing them with promises of modeling contracts and then using force, threats, and coercion to force them to work as prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim.
Jones was charged and pled guilty to a two-count information charging that Jones conspired between 2000 and 2005 to force six victims, identified only by initials, to engage in commercial sex acts through force, fraud, and coercion and by causing two minors to engage in commercial sex acts knowing that they had not reached the age of 18 years. Jones also pled guilty to transporting, or causing young women to be transported, across state lines, namely to Florida, Alabama, and Indiana, for purposes of engaging in prostitution.
According to the evidence at trial, the charging documents and other information presented in this case, Jones would initially approach young women at colleges, stores, music events, restaurants, or nightclubs and represented himself as a successful modeling and casting agent for either Candy Girl Casting or Dime Piece Entertainment– companies the defendant claimed to own. The defendant used the presence of Michelle, a woman who had found modeling work, to recruit the women as potential models. Once the victims began socializing with him, the defendant convinced and persuaded the victims to work in strip clubs as dancers, claiming it was necessary for their modeling careers for them to be comfortable with their bodies, and that they could make large sums of money. The defendant convinced five of the victims to sign contracts whereby they agreed to pay him between $300 and $450 weekly for 52 weeks. In exchange, the defendant promised that he would get the victims modeling jobs in magazines and music videos. In connection with the contracts, the defendant required the women to provide him with their social security numbers. Jones then became physically and mentally abusive toward the victims including beating them if they challenged his authority and threatening to harm them including telling them that he would beat them unrecognizable.
Jones agreed to pay $60,600 in restitution to his victims and faces a possible sentence of 15 years in prison.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Atlanta Police Department, Human Trafficking Task Force.
In May 2007, the Department released the Attorney General’s Fiscal Year 2006 Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Report is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/annualreports/tr2006/agreporthumantrafficing2006.pdf.
In July 2007, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report titled “Human Trafficking: A Strategic Framework Could Help Enhance the Interagency Collaboration Needed to Effectively Combat Trafficking Crimes.” The report is available at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07915.pdf. GAO reports that, since 2001, DOJ has significantly increased the number of human trafficking prosecutions and investigations and has engaged in extensive outreach, training, and technical assistance to other federal and state law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and foreign governments. GAO recommends that DOJ, and its partners, further collaborate to continue the success of the government’s anti-trafficking programs.
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division