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Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Minors

Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Minors

Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Minors

The Office prioritizes the investigation and prosecution of sex trafficking, child pornography, child enticement, and child endangerment offenses.  For example:

  • Lawrence Ray Charged with Extortion, Sex Trafficking, and Other Offenses:  In February 2020, the Office charged Lawrence Ray, a/k/a “Lawrence Grecco,” with extortion, sex trafficking, forced labor, and money laundering.  As alleged, Ray used physical and psychological threats and coercion to indoctrinate and exploit a group of college students in Westchester County, as well as other victims.  Ray extorted approximately $1 million from at least five victims; forced certain victims to perform unpaid labor on a family member’s North Carolina property; and caused, through force, fraud, and coercion, at least one victim to engage in commercial sex acts.  His alleged tactics included sleep deprivation, psychological and sexual humiliation, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence, physical violence, threats of criminal legal action, alienating the victims from their families, and exploiting the victims’ mental health vulnerabilities. Victims made payments to Ray by draining their parents’ savings, opening credit lines, soliciting contributions from acquaintances, selling real estate ownership, and at Ray’s direction, performing unpaid labor for Ray and earning money through prostitution.

  • Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Sex Trafficking Offenses: In July 2019, the Office charged Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking of minors between 2002 through 2005. Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls by enticing them to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money.  Epstein allegedly worked with several employees and associates to ensure that he had a steady supply of minor victims to abuse, and paid several of those victims themselves to recruit other underage girls to engage in similar sex acts for money. The indictment against Jeffrey Epstein was vacated following his August 2019 death.
  • Prosecution of Pimps who Preyed on Social Services System: Beginning from a tip about the trafficking of minor victims in and around the New York City area, the Office has successfully investigated and prosecuted violent pimps who trafficked adults and minors—some as young as 13 years-old—who were often part of the New York City social services system.  The investigation has resulted in charges against 19 defendants in eight separate indictments; to date, 15 of the defendants have been convicted—two following jury trials and 13 by guilty pleas.  Liudji Banjamin, the first defendant to be sentenced in this matter following his May 2019 trial conviction, received a sentence of 17 years’ imprisonment.  Benjamin has appealed his conviction.  The remaining convicted defendants face substantial sentences. 
  • Sex Trafficker Convicted at Trial: In October 2018, a jury convicted Lavelleous Purcell, a/k/a “King Casino,” of five counts related to his forced prostitution of multiple adult women. Purcell was sentenced to 188 months’ imprisonment. 

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