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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Niagara Falls Man Arrested, Charged With Sex Trafficking Of A Minor And Transportation Of A Minor To Engage In Criminal Sexual Activity

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:        (716) 843-5817
FAX:           (716) 551-3051


BUFFALO, N.Y.    U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Marcellus Overton, 39, of Niagara Falls, NY, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor and transportation of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. The charges carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, between December 2012 and March 2013, the defendant knowingly enticed a victim under 18 years old to engage in a commercial sex act. The complaint further states that in March 2013, Overton knowingly transported a minor under 18 years old between New York and Georgia to engage in prostitution.

The defendant made an initial appearance on January 14, 2015 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott and is being detained. A detention hearing is scheduled for January 16, 2015.

“Each year, thousands of women and men become the victims of human trafficking in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Whether forced into labor or commercial sexual exploitation, the lives of these victims are forever impacted. But our Office, working side by side with our law enforcement partners, is aggressively prosecuting all forms of trafficking wherever they occur. The Human Trafficking Task Force also includes non-government agencies who partner with us to effectively address this serious criminal activity.”

"The disturbing allegations in this case and cases like it serve to heighten the resolve of law enforcement in the effort against traffickers," said ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge Spero. " Sadly, many trafficking victims remain hidden in plain sight-- going unnoticed or unreported, which is why it is critical that we continue to raise awareness so more victims are identified and rescued and more exploiters are brought to justice."

The criminal complaint is the culmination of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. 

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.             

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Every year, thousands of vulnerable persons, including women and children, are trafficked into the United States, threatened and beaten, and forced to perform services of a sexual nature against their will. Every year, thousands of workers and laborers are exploited and abused by employers. The exploitation of vulnerable individuals is an affront to fundamental human rights, and will not and cannot be tolerated. The Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Offices are committed to the prosecution of human trafficking cases, and will continue to hold traffickers accountable for these heinous crimes.

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Updated December 18, 2015