Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Wendy A. Bashnan, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), Miami Field Office, announce the arrest of Damion St. Patrick Baston, 36, in New York City, New York, where he was ordered detained.
Baston has been charged in Miami by indictment with one count of sex trafficking a victim by means of force, fraud, and coercion, both in the Southern District of Florida and in multiple countries around the world, including Australia, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1591(a)(1) and 1596. Title 18, United States Code, Section 1596 provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction in human trafficking cases. The indictment charges a second count of forcible sex trafficking of a victim in the Southern District of Florida. If convicted on either count, Baston faces a mandatory minimum penalty of fifteen years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Baston is also charged with five counts of transporting multiple individuals for prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2421, importation of an alien for prostitution, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1328, use of a passport secured by false statement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1542, aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, and three counts of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956. Baston, who is a Jamaican national, has also been charged with illegal reentry of an alien previously ordered removed, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326.
The 14 count federal indictment was returned on December 12, 2013. Baston was located and arrested by DS and ICE-HSI agents in New York on December 17, 2013. Baston remains in custody and is expected in federal district court here in Miami soon.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Human trafficking is one the most deplorable crimes our office prosecutes. Law enforcement agencies are teaming up to identify, arrest and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of others. Working with our dedicated law enforcement partners here and abroad we will press on with efforts to reach those who are being exploited, and prosecute those who choose to engage in this inhumane practice.”
“Sex trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate, these victims are taken advantage of on a daily basis” said Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, ICE-HSI. “Investigative efforts by HSI alongside our partners at the DSS and the Australian Federal Police highlight the collaborative effort within federal and international law enforcement partners to ensure international boundaries do not hinder the enforcement of justice.”
“We are thankful for our continued partnership with the international law enforcement community. A team of Miami and international DS resources worked closely with the Australian authorities to locate and apprehend Damion Baston,” said Special Agent in Charge Wendy A. Bashnan of the DS Miami Field Office. “We hope that the long awaited prosecution of Baston will provide some satisfaction to the many individuals he victimized and their families. DS’s worldwide presence at U.S. Embassies around the world allows us to work with our host country law enforcement to track and capture fugitives who have fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and DS, as well as the Australian Federal Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olivia S. Choe and Roy K. Altman.
An indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.