ANTI-TRAFFICKING NEWS BULLETIN
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Attorney General Unveils Five-Year Report of DOJ Anti-Trafficking Efforts
- President’s Trafficking Initiative Makes Tremendous Progress in Tanzania
- 50-Year Prison Sentences for Sex Trafficking
- Justice Department to Host National Trafficking Conference in October 2006
- New Federal Task Force Initiative Launches in September 2006
- Kansas City Task Force Established in May 2006
- Specialized Training for Federal Prosecutors in August 2006
- Civil Rights Division Leads Human Trafficking Training Throughout the Country and Around the World
- Record Number of Convictions in FY 2006
- ICE Victim Witness Coordinator Susan Shriner Receives Federal Service Award
- International Victims Rescued
- President's Trafficking Initiative Breaks New Ground in Indonesia and Malaysia
- President's Trafficking Initiative Establishes Partnership with Mexico
- Case Updates
[Photo of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales] On March 15, 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced the release of a comprehensive report by the U.S. Department of Justice highlighting its work to combat human trafficking during the previous five fiscal years. He unveiled the report in Chicago during the annual meeting of the Freedom Network, a consortium of service providers who participate in anti-trafficking task forces around the nation. The report, which summarizes the Department’s accomplishments in the fight against modern-day slavery during fiscal years 2001 to 2005, reflects its victim-centered approach to investigation and prosecution by concentrating not only on prosecution statistics, but victim services and prevention programs as well. In addition to the nearly 1,000 non-U.S. citizen trafficking victims assisted by law enforcement in obtaining access to victim services under the TVPA, the report explains how the Department more than doubled its convictions, tripled its prosecutions, and quadrupled its investigations of human traffickers as compared to the previous five fiscal years. In all, the Department charged 248 defendants with human trafficking offenses, secured 140 convictions or guilty pleas, and opened 480 new investigations. The report can be accessed online.
In his most comprehensive anti-trafficking speech to date, Attorney General Gonzales strongly reiterated the Administration’s commitment to prosecute traffickers while rescuing, protecting, and rehabilitating their victims. The Attorney General called on governmental and non-governmental actors to work together to respond to the plight of the victims:
“Thanks to the Justice Department's strong working relationship with many victim-services groups, there are a number of success stories that span the universe of human trafficking victims -- migrant field workers, indentured servants, sweatshop workers, and child and adult sex slaves.... We can be proud of the state of our efforts – of the real numbers and human reality that define this struggle. But we cannot rest long on our past accomplishments.”
“As we speak, a married couple could be bringing an unsuspecting young Filipino girl to America with the promise of schooling and safety -- only to keep her locked away as a domestic servant. As we speak, an American girl could be falling for the wiles of a pimp -- only to be forced into inherently dehumanizing prostitution. As we speak, 20, or 50, or 100 victims could be locked behind the walls of an otherwise non-descript building working for pennies and hoping for some relief from their hard labor.”
“These stories are a mandate for action. They are a mandate for the dedicated investigators and prosecutors at the Justice Department and throughout the law enforcement community. They are a mandate for . . . social workers, health professionals, legal experts, law enforcement officers, and concerned citizens. . . . They are a mandate for our President, this Attorney General, and every member of a Nation committed to the ideals of liberty and freedom for all.”
The full text of the Attorney General’s speech can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/speeches/2006/ag_speech_0603151.html.
In January 2006, a DOJ assessment team undertook a comprehensive inventory of Tanzania’s criminal justice systems and its judicial capacity to better understand the nature and extent of human trafficking in Tanzania. This assessment included the areas of Mwanza and Iringa. The assessment report was reviewed by police and prosecutor experts with the Civil Rights Division, OPDAT, and ICITAP so that the details and budgets of program design could be completed. [Photo of then Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Schlozman and Senior Special Counsel for Trafficking March Bell with Tanzanian officials at a U.S. -Tanzania Trafficking Project] These were completed in record time. In May 2006, a Letter of Agreement between the United States and Tanzania was signed by both parties. Planning for deployment of the program is underway and staff are now being recruited for the Tanzania program. The new administration in Tanzania has shown active leadership in combating human trafficking and is currently drafting a new human trafficking statute.
These recent efforts build upon the initial U.S. assessment in May 2005 where it was determined that Dar es Salaam and Iringa would be the initial sites for the President’s Initiative in Tanzania. Because the Tanzanian Government expected elections in the fall of 2005, only fact finding about trafficking in Tanzania was possible until after the elections because most government officials were likely to be replaced following national elections. The U.S. team did recommend that supplemental funding for an additional site in Tanzania be made available. This was approved by the leadership of the President’s Initiative and Mwanza, which along with Iringa is an area of victim origin, is now part of the U.S./Tanzania partnership.
Mwanza is a commercial and fishing city and also a port of entry into Tanzania due to its proximity to Lake Victoria. Government officials reported that most prostitution takes place in well known bars and casinos. They indicated that underage girls work in the bars and that they must pay a bar fee when they leave with a customer. Additionally, most girls are required to return to the bar after a short time with a customer or their bar privileges will be revoked. Police reported that many girls often work in teams, living 8 to 10 in a small apartment. According to government officials, many prostitutes are from out of town and travel to mining areas by bus. This has resulted in a serious migration problem into Mwanza, as well as a dramatic crime increase in burglaries, assaults, armed robbery, and harassment of citizens by organized street gangs. These problems have diverted law enforcement resources from potential trafficking cases.
Labor officials reported that workers were unaware of their rights, were afraid to report abusive behavior, and generally accepted any terms of employment they could get. Labor officials reported offenses that appear similar to human trafficking in the fishing industry, construction industry, and domestic employment. Some believed that abuse also took place in the hotel sector. Many prosecutors said they had heard about trafficking but that police had to bring the cases first. Government officials explained that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had a greater knowledge about trafficking than they did. Government officials expressed a dependence upon and willingness to collaborate with NGOs. NGOs explained that Mwanza has street leaders and village leaders who are tasked with knowing about child and sexual abuse. NGO advocates have formed relationships with these local leaders and many are effective local “eyes and ears” that discover trafficking and abuse. NGOs reported that walk-in complaints did not receive the respect of police, but that when interviews were conducted by counsel and packaged that the police would act upon them. Lawyers with NGOs reported that there was labor abuse on the middle-sized tea plantations that met the classic definition of trafficking. NGOs also reported abusive and forced prostitution including no pay, beatings, and other forms of psychological abuse, typically by female pimps known as “sugar mommies” who take all the money from the women and girls. No police or NGOs had attempted to penetrate the relationship between bar owners and bar girl prostitution. All parties reported that the existing statutory structure was inadequate to address trafficking.
Government officials identified the area around Iringa as the poorest in Tanzania and the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. The view was expressed that people were so poor that they would tolerate any job, even an abusive one. Very few villages have secondary schools and they are not mandatory, which contributes to the trafficking of 12-year olds into domestic house work. Labor investigators report that the rural nature of abuse on tea or coffee plantations makes investigation challenging. Very often small growers hire children for work and tell investigators the children are family members. Government officials reported that many young girls had been taken from Iringa to Dar es Salaam to work as prostitutes. The trafficker receives a fee of $50 for each girl. Many villages do not have teenaged girls due to trafficking. NGOs reported police willingness to prosecute cases, but say that training is badly needed.
On April 27, 2006, the Department obtained two of the longest prison sentences ever imposed in a sex trafficking case – 50 years each for defendants Josue Flores Carreto and Gerardo Flores Carreto. A third defendant, Daniel Perez Alonso, was sentenced to 25 years on the same day. These individuals used deception, psychological manipulation, and false promises, along with physical beatings and rapes, to compel young, uneducated Mexican women from impoverished backgrounds into sexual slavery in brothels throughout the New York City metropolitan area. These three defendants had pled guilty on April 5, 2005, just prior to trial, to multiple counts of conspiring to engage in sex trafficking and conspiring to import aliens for immoral purposes, sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking, forced labor, violating the Mann Act, importation of an alien for immoral purposes, and alien smuggling. Additionally, on February 2, 2006, co-defendant Edith Mosquera de Flores was sentenced to 27 months in prison for conspiring to force the young Mexican women into prostitution. Two other co-defendants, Eloy Carreto Reyes and Eliu Carreto Fernandez, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in late 2004. On June 1, 2006, Eliu Carreto Fernandez was sentenced to 80 months in prison. Sentencing for Eloy Carreto Reyes is pending. Two more co-defendants, Consuelo Carreto Valencia and Maria De Los Angeles Velasquez Reyes, who were also indicted in the United States on charges of conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor or services, Mann Act, and immigration-related offenses, are presently incarcerated in Mexico on Mexican federal charges related to their role in this human trafficking conspiracy. The arrests of co-defendants Valencia and Reyes by Mexican authorities through the efforts of DOJ prosecutors and the President's Trafficking Initiative/U.S.-Mexico anti-trafficking partnership have formed the basis for a collaborative effort that seeks to prosecute recruiters, traffickers, and exploiters on both sides of the border. United States v. Carreto, et. al (E.D.N.Y.). Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Hilary Axam and Anne Milgram and EDNY AUSA Monica Ryan prosecuted the case. A team of ICE agents led by ICE Special Agent Keith Kolovich investigated the case.
Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Hilary Axam and Anne Milgram and EDNY AUSA Monica Ryan prosecuted the case. A team of ICE agents led by ICE Special Agent Keith Kolovich investigated the case.
The Justice Department has selected New Orleans for the first of three annual conferences designed to advance the federal government’s knowledge base about human trafficking within the United States and to improve access by practitioners to usable research about human trafficking. As Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan J. Kim explained: “We hope to take the first steps toward acquiring a broader research base that will inform law enforcement managers about where to allocate investigative resources. For example, we want to learn more about informal labor markets where some labor brokers engage in criminal exploitation of laborers.” The conference will also build on the Department’s initial national conference held in 2004 in Tampa, Florida. [Photo of Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim] That conference led to the creation of 20 multi disciplinary task forces designed to undertake proactive investigations. “By the time of the conference we will have 42 task forces, so once again we will invite key team members from each task force to participate,” said Kim. “We are expecting each participant to help us understand what they need in the area of research to do a better job of targeting our law enforcement resources.” The conference, to be held October 3-5, 2006, is the first of three congressionally funded annual conferences that the Justice Department will implement.
In September 2006, the Civil Rights Division will kickoff a new video conference training initiative designed to bring participants from all of the task forces and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country into a national discussion through the Department’s video conferencing capability. These video conferences will promote problem solving, development and presentation of anti-trafficking best practices, and collaboration on multi-district cases. “Our overall strategy is to assist and empower the task force teams in their rescue of victims and prosecution of perpetrators,” said Mr. Kim. “This will greatly expand the ability of the Department’s local U.S. Attorneys’ offices to take a proactive role in aggressively combating human trafficking.”
On May 24, 2006, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan J. Kim and United States Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman of the Western District of Missouri launched the "Human Trafficking Rescue Project" in Kansas City, Missouri. The new task force, which brings together an array of law enforcement and non-governmental organizations from throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan area, serves as just the latest example of the Department of Justice's strong commitment to rooting out modern-day slavery. The task force launch in Kansas City also coincided with a training seminar on human trafficking attended by nearly 200 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, social service providers, and community leaders throughout Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas.
Anchored by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the newest Human Trafficking Rescue Project is comprised of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General, the Department of Labor's Wage & Hour Division, the Jackson County (Mo.) Prosecuting Attorney's Office, the Independence (Mo.) Police Department, the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department, and Hope House.
Underscoring the success of the Kansas City task force, in the mere two months since this working group was formed, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri has already opened up four human trafficking investigations and indicted a sex trafficking case. "Human trafficking is an unconscionable tragedy that strikes at the core of our nation's most cherished values of human dignity and freedom," U.S. Attorney Schlozman noted. "This office, working in tandem with our coalition partners from law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, and the community as a whole, will work vigorously to protect the helpless victims in this district and prosecute the traffickers to the fullest extent of the law." [Photo of U.S. Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman]
The point of contact in the Western District of Missouri on trafficking in persons matters is Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Phillips. To report evidence of possible human trafficking in that district, please call Ms. Phillips at (816) 426-3122 or the Civil Rights Division's Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force complaint line (TPWETF) at (888) 428-7581.
On August 9-11, 2006, the Civil Rights Division will host a human trafficking seminar at the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina. The training will provide an opportunity for federal prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division, and AUSAs from around the country to better understand anti-trafficking statutes, case methods, and task force strategy. “This is the most advanced human trafficking training we have had,” said Assistant Attorney General Kim. “We will discuss the unique investigative and prosecutorial issues that arise from our victim-centered approach and feature specialized panels on large multi-victim, as well as single-victim cases. For the first time, the training will include presentations by members of the Houston and Washington, DC metropolitan area task forces.
Since October 2005, the Civil Rights Division has conducted more than 50 training sessions on how to combat human trafficking in the United States and abroad. Domestically, Civil Rights Division prosecutors and its victim witness coordinator have worked with California, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, South Carolina, and North Carolina in their efforts to establish anti-trafficking efforts. Typically, attendees include federal, state, and local law enforcement representatives, as well as service providers from non-governmental organizations in those areas. In addition, Division staff were invited to participate in conferences at both the national and local levels with members of various victim organizations, law enforcement groups, and other interested entities within and outside government to provide insight into current and future anti-trafficking efforts.
For example, on June 20, 2006, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services sponsored the first state-wide human trafficking conference in Ohio at the Columbus, Ohio, Police Academy. There were approximately 200 attendees at the conference including law enforcement officials, first responders and other medical personnel, and representatives of governmental and non-profit social service agencies. The conference focused on investigation and victim services in all aspects of human trafficking, including labor and sex trafficking. Training workshops included “Linking Federal and State Anti-Trafficking Efforts,” “Forming State Coalitions and Engaging the Community,” and “Human Trafficking for Social Service and Health Care Providers.” Special Litigation Counsel Lou de Baca and trial attorney Bharathi Venkatraman spoke on building state and local partnerships and the special challenges in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.
Another recent example of domestic training efforts by the Civil Rights Division occurred on June 28, 2006. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement hosted a human trafficking conference that day in Pittsburgh designed to help attendees identify and understand the problem of human trafficking, investigate possible trafficking crimes, and respond to the needs of victims. Presenters at the conference included U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker from the Civil Rights Division, two trial attorneys from the Civil Rights Division, two ICE agents, an FBI agent, ICE victim witness coordinator Sue Shriner, and a representative from the Special Immigrant Populations Project of Catholic Social Services. Approximately 65 people attended the conference from local law enforcement and social service provider communities.
Overseas, the Civil Rights Division sent prosecutors to Ukraine and Mexico and its victim witness coordinator to the Republic of Georgia to share the experiences of the United States in combating human trafficking and assisting victims. Several countries, such as Poland, Thailand, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Russia, China, Bhutan, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, sent representatives to the United States to learn more about this global issue through meetings with Civil Rights Division attorneys and victim staff.
During the current fiscal year, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, initiated 149 investigations, charged 58 defendants in 23 cases, and obtained 60 convictions involving human trafficking. The 60 convictions are more than any other single year on record.
During this year’s 2006 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Susan Shriner, Victim Witness Coordinator at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), received the Federal Service Award from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for her work on behalf of human trafficking and other victims. She received the special recognition during an awards ceremony hosted on April 21, 2006, by the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to honor victim advocates, organizations, and programs in the field of victim services. She was nominated for the award by Bradley J. Schlozman, then Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.
Since the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000, Sue has applied her experience in the federal victim service field to ensure that the highly vulnerable victims of human trafficking are identified and treated with the compassion they deserve. She has worked on behalf of victims of crime for almost 25 years. Sue has special expertise in working with victims of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and rape. She took on the challenge of developing an effective victim assistance program at what was then the largest law enforcement agency in the Federal Government: the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). [Photo of Susan Shriner receiving Federal Service Award from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales] With seed funding from OVC, Sue established a full-time victim assistance program at INS and then the newly formed ICE. She has coordinated and supervised the services of more than 300 victim personnel who work with victims of some of the most horrible abuses—genocide, child pornography, and human trafficking—in implementing the principles of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance and federal victim laws. She has been instrumental in training hundreds of INS and ICE personnel to treat illegal aliens as potential human trafficking victims, and to provide them with benefits and services instead of having them deported.
To date, prosecutors in the Civil Rights Division and other law enforcement personnel have sought continued presence which the Department of Homeland Security has granted to 798 victims to extend their stay in the United States to assist with law enforcement efforts. Overall, 1010 trafficking victims from 65 countries have so far been assisted by the Civil Rights Division, and other law enforcement personnel, to be eligible for refugee-type benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services under the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The Department of Justice has secured funding through the President’s Trafficking Initiative to address the trafficking of victims from Indonesia to Malaysia. Indonesia already has in place a successful anti-trafficking program and partnerships that have led to victim rescues and perpetrator prosecutions. Many of these victims are trafficked from rural areas in Indonesia into the cities. A significant number of victims also are trafficked to surrounding areas, particularly Malaysia. For example, many young girls are recruited in Indonesia to work in Malaysia through employment agencies that are unethical and exploitive. The employment agencies impose a fraudulent debt on these girls after they arrive in Indonesia that cannot be worked off, and frequently the girls run away from their employer in Malaysia. Because they have no papers or have expired papers, these young women are often detained in immigration holding facilities where corrupt prison guards allow traffickers to recruit them and then traffic them into prostitution.
To address this problem, the Department proposed and received approval for a program to rescue and interdict trafficking of Indonesian victims in Malaysia. The new United States supported program will allow Indonesian non-governmental organizations and others to go into the prisons to identify victims and perpetrators, and will promote cross-border investigations and prosecutions. In April 2006, an assessment was conducted of border and high trafficking areas between Indonesia and Malaysia to determine the best approach to combat the problem. Two locations were determined to be the best sites where an investment by the United States would rescue victims and also hold both recruiters and exploiters accountable. The next steps in the initiative are to complete the program design, to deploy cross-border training, and to facilitate the protocols for bilateral cooperation. This program will help demonstrate the efficacy of trafficking interdiction that simultaneously addresses the crime at both the origin and destination.
In September 2005, the United States and Mexico completed a formal Letter of Agreement which cleared the way for an anti-trafficking partnership to begin. Through a series of video conferences and meetings, a plan to collaborate on cross-border cases was finalized and locations were selected for task forces inside Mexico. The Mexican delegation adopted, in principle, a U.S. best practices program design presented by T. March Bell, Senior Counsel for Trafficking Issues in the Civil Rights Division. Additional action items focused on establishment of points of contact, agreement on NGO involvement, how criminal targets would be selected, method of delivery for training, and evaluation of participation by national and state law enforcement. Decision making and planning for site evaluation was discussed. Mexico took the initiative by suggesting criminal targets that both countries could investigate together. As part of the partnership, T. March Bell assisted in a San Diego training to promote identification of victims primarily from Mexico and to promote cross-border collaboration. The training included an assessment of Tijuana as a transit and destination area and the parameters for cross-border investigation.
The DOJ team next completed site evaluations in Chiapas and Cancun in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. evaluation team met with the Attorney General of the state of Chiapas, the Municipal Police in Chiapas, and NGOs and human rights organizations in the region. The U.S. team learned that the state of Chiapas recently adopted new legislation in order to strengthen the penalties for child prostitution and child pornography, and that their state code permits the seizure of assets, the use of proceeds of criminal acts, telephonic intercepts, undercover operations, payment of informants, the creation of groups dedicated to organized crime investigations, and victim assistance. There was, however, confusion between state and local law enforcement officials over who had primary responsibility for investigating trafficking cases. The U.S. team also discovered that the NGOs in Chiapas have a different understanding and opinion of the phenomenon of trafficking than did the government authorities. Based on the assessment, the United States and Mexico agreed to the following initiatives to address the trafficking situation in Chiapas:
The U.S. assessment team also conducted a site evaluation in Cancun. The U.S. team learned that Cancun and surrounding jurisdictions lack anti-trafficking laws at the state level. The U.S. team discovered that the Municipal Police are not familiar with the term trafficking in persons and had no statistics regarding the corruption of minors, child pornography, or related violations. The national government of Mexico is currently conducting a diagnostic of the area to determine the extent of the trafficking problem in Cancun. Many Cancun nightclubs have the reputation of trafficking women for commercial sexual exploitation, including women from outside the region. Some information has pointed to a possibility of sex tourism, but little concrete information exists. Based on the assessment, the United States and Mexico agreed to the following initiatives to address the trafficking situation in Cancun:
The partnership between the United States and Mexico currently is being implemented. One training session has already taken place. “The U.S./Mexico partnership gives us an opportunity to address both the origin and destination crime committed by traffickers which is the kind of progress that the President’s Trafficking Initiative has made possible, “ said Assistant Attorney General Kim. “This will result in us dismantling entire trafficking organizations and thus preventing potential victims from being exploited.”
*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 May 1, 2006, defendant Cedric Lamar Jackson entered a guilty plea to conspiring to commit forced labor, sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, peonage, obstructing enforcement of a peonage investigation, and tampering with a witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§371. On that same day, defendant Aimee Allen entered a guilty plea to conspiring to commit sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§371. Defendants Harrison Norris, Jr., Aimee Allen, and Cedric Lamar Jackson were charged with violating one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§371 and one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§1591 (sex trafficking). Defendants Norris and Allen were also charged with violating five counts each of 18 U.S.C. Â§1581 (peonage), six counts of Â§1589 (forced labor), Â§1590 (trafficking with respect to forced labor) and 18 U.S.C. Â§1591 (sex trafficking). Defendant Norris was also charged with three counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§1512 (tampering with a witness). Beginning in 2001 and continuing until August 2005, the defendants allegedly recruited and sometimes kidnapped young women and forced them to engage in prostitution in the Atlanta area. The lead defendant, Harrison Norris, is alleged to have used his notoriety as a professional wrestler to recruit some of the victims with promises of training to compete as wrestlers, only to force them into prostitution through force, threats, and a series of detailed house rules. In connection with this case, on January 25, 2006, defendant Leslie A. Smith entered a guilty plea to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§1001 (false statements to the FBI), and on February 22, 2006, defendant Michelle Achuff also pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§1001.
Beginning in 2001 and continuing until August 2005, the defendants allegedly recruited and sometimes kidnapped young women and forced them to engage in prostitution in the Atlanta area. The lead defendant, Harrison Norris, is alleged to have used his notoriety as a professional wrestler to recruit some of the victims with promises of training to compete as wrestlers, only to force them into prostitution through force, threats, and a series of detailed house rules. In connection with this case, on January 25, 2006, defendant Leslie A. Smith entered a guilty plea to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§1001 (false statements to the FBI), and on February 22, 2006, defendant Michelle Achuff also pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§1001.
Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Amy Pope and NDGA AUSAs Joe Plummer and Susan Coppedge are prosecuting the case, and FBI agents Jennifer Towns and Brett Fears are leading the investigation.
On June 28, 2006, in Brooklyn, New York, Jose Paoletti-Moreda and his son Renato Paoletti-Lemus pled guilty to extortion (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1951) for their leading role in recruiting deaf and hearing-impaired Mexicans to come to the United States with promises of good jobs, only to enslave them in the streets and subways of New York to peddle trinkets for the Paoletti family’s behalf. [Photo of a keychain that "Deaf Mexicans" were forced to peddle"] The two men were extradited to the United States from Mexico after serving prison time there for fraudulent recruitment of their victims. Paoletti-Moreda’s wife, daughter, and another son have all been previously convicted in this case, which pre-dated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Many of the survivors remain in the New York area.
Special Litigation Counsel Lou de Baca from the Civil Rights Division and EDNY Civil Rights Chief AUSA Pam Chen are prosecuting the case. The investigation was conducted by a joint ICE/FBI team led by ICE Special Agent Kevin Ryan.
On April 6, 2006, Jorge Ibanez was sentenced to 135 months in prison, having previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit forced labor, document servitude, and recruiting, harboring, transporting, and housing undocumented workers; engaging in extortionate credit transactions; and transferring false alien registration cards. In November 2005, his co-defendant and spouse, Mariluz Zavala, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Between June 1, 1999, and June 21, 2004, Zavala and Ibanez orchestrated a scheme to illegally obtain visas for Peruvian aliens seeking to come into the United States. The defendants charged the aliens a smuggling fee ranging from $6,000 to $13,000. By confiscating their passports and threatening to turn them over to authorities, the defendants compelled the aliens to perform work for them and other employers. The defendants would keep most of their paychecks, leaving the aliens with approximately $50 or less per week on which to live and support their families. More than 60 Peruvian illegal aliens, including 13 children, who were living in cramped and squalid conditions were rescued, granted continued presence, and are receiving services through a non-governmental organization. [Photo of a house where the victims of Zavala and Ibanez lived] As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants will forfeit a residence valued at $175,000 and bank accounts containing approximately $30,000 generated through their crimes. Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Adriana Vieco and Hilary Axam and EDNY AUSA Bonnie Klapper prosecuted the case, and case agent SA Leigh Senzatimore from ICE led the investigation.
Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Adriana Vieco and Hilary Axam and EDNY AUSA Bonnie Klapper prosecuted the case, and case agent SA Leigh Senzatimore from ICE led the investigation.
On January 23, 2006, Arlan Kaufman was sentenced to 30 years in prison and his wife Linda Kaufman was sentenced to 7 years in prison after being convicted by a jury on November 7, 2005, in Wichita, Kansas, of charges including conspiracy, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and multiple health care fraud counts. The defendants operated “The Kaufman House,” a residential treatment group home for mentally ill adults. For nearly 20 years, beginning in 1986 and lasting through October 2004, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to hold mentally ill residents in involuntary servitude and forced labor. [Photo of the front page of a Kansas newspaper with the headline, "Kaufman found guilty of abuse"] The defendants forced the residents to engage in nudity and sexually explicit acts, and to perform acts of labor and services for the defendants’ entertainment and benefit. Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Lisa Krigsten and Kristy Parker and AUSA Tanya Treadway of the District of Kansas prosecuted the case, and Ryan Filson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General led the investigation.
Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Lisa Krigsten and Kristy Parker and AUSA Tanya Treadway of the District of Kansas prosecuted the case, and Ryan Filson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General led the investigation.
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division