Defendant Who Exploited Opioid Addictions of Young Women Convicted of Crimes Related to Drug Trafficking and Prostitution
After a three-day trial, a federal jury in Concord, New Hampshire, found Steven Tucker, 33, of Manchester, New Hampshire, guilty on March 22 of one count of sex trafficking of a minor and of using interstate facilities to promote a prostitution business enterprise and maintaining a drug-involved premise. The verdict was announced by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray for the District of New Hampshire, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Boston.
Evidence presented at trial established that, between October 2013 and June 2014, the defendant operated drug and prostitution businesses in the Manchester area. He sold heroin to numerous individuals, including young women and a minor. Witnesses described how the defendant used their addictions to cause them to prostitute for his profit. The defendant would often front heroin to the women and then arrange prostitution “dates” for them. The women were required to give the defendant half of the proceeds and then purchase heroin from him with the remainder.
On other occasions, the defendant withheld heroin from the women, causing them to suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, and then instructed them to prostitute to earn money to purchase heroin from him. The defendant’s scheme guaranteed that he had a steady source of drug customers and money. Some of the women were required to help the defendant sell his heroin and received heroin in exchange. The defendant used violence and threats to maintain control of the women. The investigation began in 2014, when the mother of one of the women called the Manchester Police Department after the defendant beat her daughter.
“Motivated by greed, the defendant preyed on young, vulnerable women, selling them heroin, exploiting their addictions, and prostituting them for his own profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division and its Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit will continue its vigorous efforts to work with our federal and state partners to hold human traffickers accountable, vindicate the rights of their victims, and eradicate this despicable and inhumane exploitation from our country.”
“This case demonstrates the power of opioids to support criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray. “This defendant took advantage of young women, using heroin and violence to induce them to commit acts of prostitution for his personal profit. His conduct was even more disturbing because he victimized a minor. We will continue to work closely with the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force and all of our law enforcement partners to identify, arrest and prosecute those who engage in this type of unlawful and exploitive activity.”
“We’re grateful that the jury has brought back this verdict.” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Boston. “This case, where the offender cruelly exploited his victims through drug addiction and violence to induce them to prostitute, was disturbing on several levels. The strong partnership among our HSI Special Agents, the Manchester Police Department, victim advocates, and the members of the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force was critical in investigating this case. We hope this verdict can serve as some small measure of healing for the victims of this dangerous threat to the community.”
This prosecution is the result of the joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Manchester Police Department, the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire, and the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU). The Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office provided victim assistance in the case.
The New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force is a multidisciplinary effort comprised of law enforcement as well as social, medical, and legal services for victims of human trafficking. The Task Force is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Programs (BJA).
The core team members of the Task Force are the Manchester Police Department, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen for the District of New Hampshire and Trial Attorney Vasantha Rao for the Civil Rights Division’s HTPU, with assistance from HTPU Trial Attorney Maryam Zhuravitsky.