Category Archives: Human Trafficking

March 7, 2021

Dismantling of a Human Trafficking Organization

Investigators identified six sex and labor trafficking businesses throughout Southern California which were owned and operated by the suspects. Additionally, investigators identified a fashion boutique which was owned by the suspects to launder the proceeds from the illicit sex businesses. Proceeds from these businesses were funneled through the fashion boutique to make the proceeds appear legal so the suspects could pay car payments, mortgages, and other expenses.  

Starting in January 2021, Human Trafficking Investigators assigned to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Special Crimes Unit received information that sex and labor trafficking was taking place at several massage parlors and skin care businesses in Ventura County.  These businesses were owned and operated by a family living in the Inland Empire.  These illicit businesses were being operated under fictitious names and were in the counties of Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino.
 
As the investigation proceeded, investigators learned suspects primarily targeted women from Mexico to work in these illicit businesses, some of whom were living in Southern California on United States Refugee Visas. Investigators also learned the suspects utilized human smugglers to recruit women in Mexico and bring them into the United States to work in these illicit businesses.  Once these women were recruited, sex advertisements were placed on various internet sites depicting them. These sex advertisements would describe pricing, the type of sexual encounter, and which illicit business the women were working.  These advertisements were updated daily, and the females were rotated throughout the Southern California businesses owned by the suspects.

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February 26, 2021

Former USA Gymnastics Coach Kills Himself After Being Charged with Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault

Former USA Gymnastics coach John Geddert committed suicide after he was charged on Thursday with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, including human trafficking and sexual assault, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.

State officials confirmed the news to WLNS CBS that the coach died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 63 years old.

Geddert coached the 2012 U.S. women’s gold-winning Olympic team and worked closely with Larry Nassar, the disgraced physician convicted of multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and child pornography that owned and operated Twistars USA Gymnastics gym near Lansing, Michigan, where Nassar also treated several gymnasts.

Geddert was charged with 14 counts of human trafficking and forced labor causing injury; six counts of human trafficking of a minor for forced labor; one count of continuing criminal enterprise; one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct; and one count of lying to a police officer during a violent crime investigation.

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February 19, 2021

Human trafficking a $150B industry; ages 11-14 highly recruited (Video)

In the midst of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, a silent epidemic rages — human trafficking. It’s a $150 billion global industry, and southeast Wisconsin is a major hub. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. 

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport features signage that asks the public to “spot the signs and break the chains,” reminding that “human trafficking can happen anywhere.”

“We have seen an increase in human trafficking, especially online,” Melissa Hoppmeyer said.

With children now spending more time on computers and devices, taking part in virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic, concerns are growing.

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August 12, 2020

‘Spa’ raids in resort towns spark outrage over Mexico’s human trafficking problem

These cases, in what are supposed to be resort paradises, highlight Mexico’s not-so-secret human trafficking issue.

It was an unusual scene, especially for two Mexican cities known more for beaches and tourism.

“We want justice!” shouted dozens of people gathered at dawn outside a state courthouse in the beach resort of Cancun on Thursday last week. The crowd, mostly activists, students and human rights attorneys, was pleasantly surprised when their numbers increased by the arrival of members of a bikers’ club.

Several hours later, the same protesters showed up at another state courthouse in the nearby beach resort of Playa del Carmen, chanting the same message and adding another one: “No more impunity!”

In both cases, judges would hear evidence about the state’s biggest human trafficking raid in years, involving women from as far as Argentina and Germany who were allegedly tricked into working as prostitutes.

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August 7, 2020

Border Patrol finds ‘most sophisticated cross-border tunnel’ in U.S. history

Pictures reveal a passageway measuring three feet wide and four feet high equipped with a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, rail system, extensive reinforcement, and shoring, commonly known used in sophisticated tunnels.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement discovered an unfinished cross-border tunnel in a residential area in San Luis, Arizona, located about 25 miles from Yuma.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl E Landrum, acting chief patrol agent, Yuma Sector. “We will continue to work closely with our partners – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and State and local agencies to provide the best National Security possible.”

The tunnel was found on Tuesday following several days excavating the Sonoran Desert. The U.S. portion of the tunnel reaches from an Arizona neighborhood extends 1,300 feet under the Mexican border fence into San Luis Rio Colorado.

Pictures reveal a passageway measuring three feet wide and four feet high equipped with a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, rail system, extensive reinforcement, and shoring, commonly known used in sophisticated tunnels.

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August 4, 2020

Fort Bragg sham marriage ring busted

A Ghanian citizen, Joshua Kwame Asane, 45,  is accused of marrying a soldier with the sole intention of gaining legal permanent residency in the U.S. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud, visa fraud, false statement in an immigration proceeding, and preventing testimony of a person in an official proceeding. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

Federal and North Carolina investigators closed the door on another sham marriage ring set up at Fort Bragg, NC. The investigation resulted in grand jury indictments for both active duty and former soldiers stationed at the base. 

The charges state that the accused were involved in a criminal organization designed to fraudulently wed foreign nationals to soldiers. The sham marriages were arranged by a middleman.

The purpose of the fake marriages was to offer foreign citizens a clear path to citizenship and soldiers the opportunity to move off base and collect thousands of dollars in Basic Allowance for Housing pay.

The Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and Homeland Security’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) were responsible for the investigation. The DBFTF, based in Raleigh, has members from several state and federal agencies.

Investigators found that this latest marriage scam involved both current and former service members in the Fort Bragg area and foreign nationals mainly from Ghana, Nigeria, and the U.K.

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January 10, 2020

Europe’s Nigerian Mafia

Italian intelligence has named the Nigerian mafia “the most structured and dynamic” of any foreign crime entity operating in Italy, according to the Washington Post…. What distinguishes the Nigerian crime networks is their severe brutality…

One of the fastest growing criminal networks in Europe is now the Nigerian mafia, which is spreading its criminal activities across the continent. It consists of rival groups such as Black Axe, Vikings and Maphite. Most recently, authorities in Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Malta conducted an international operation directed at two of the major Nigerian mafia groups. Police accused the gangs of human-trafficking, drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, sexual violence and prostitution.

According to a June 2019 report by the Washington Post on the Nigerian mafia in Italy:

“They hold territory from the north in Turin to the south in Palermo. They smuggle drugs and traffic women, deploying them as prostitutes on Italy’s streets. They find new members among the caste of wayward migrants, illicitly recruiting at Italian government-run asylum centers.”

The Nigerian mafia, according to the report, is “trafficking women by the tens of thousands”. Italian intelligence has named the group “the most structured and dynamic” of any foreign crime entity operating in Italy, according to the Washington Post.

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December 24, 2019

Cartel Money Man: “We Control All the Territory” Used to Smuggle Migrants

According to Manuel, the cartel pays $25,000 a month each to Mexico’s local, state, and federal police and to the National Guard. While the Mexican army does not accept the bribe, they allegedly turn a blind eye in exchange for favors.

The fight to protect the border, part of the greater war to preserve America’s national sovereignty, has a multi-faceted and ever-changing landscape. Criminal cartels and human smugglers have adapted to the Trump administration’s efforts to thwart illegal migration.

As part of a recent report, the Associated Press spoke with a human smuggling “money man” identified only as Manuel.

“We control all the territory” along the Arizona border he told AP, which wrote that Manuel works for the Sinaloa cartel. He claimed to handle the income from smuggling migrants along a 375-mile territory along the U.S.-Mexico border — a jurisdiction that brings in an average or $1 million a month in illegal money.

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February 1, 2018

Illegal Immigrant Crime: Another DACA Recipient Arrested For Human Smuggling

3rd DACA recipient arrested for human smuggling in less than a week …

On Monday, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested another Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, this time in Arizona, for attempting to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico.

Agents working in the Yuma Sector came across the footprints of several illegal aliens attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico and communicated the information to Targeted Enforcement Unit agents, who witnessed four subjects entering into a white truck nearby. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports:

Agents from both units intercepted the vehicle and performed a vehicle stop. The driver was identified as a 26-year-old male Mexican national DACA recipient from Salinas, California. The other four occupants were all determined to be Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States. The driver was arrested for human smuggling charges, and the four passengers were arrested for immigration violations. The vehicle was seized for forfeiture.

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Officials Announce 510 Arrests in Statewide Human Trafficking Crackdown (Video)

Last year, there were 200 human trafficking cases filed by the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office, and some resulted in life sentences for traffickers. “That would not have happened five years ago,” Lacey said.

Officials announced the results of a three-day statewide crackdown on human trafficking crimes and rescue of victims on Tuesday, saying the most recent sting netted 510 arrests.

A total of 56 trafficking victims were also rescued in the operation, which took place last week and was led by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department with the cooperations of 85 other federal, state and local agencies.

The results of the fourth-annual series of raids known as “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” — which refers to the goal of helping victims of the sex industry to reclaim and rebuild their lives — were presented by L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell during a news conference at the sheriff’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.

McDonnell described the sting as a “three-day assault on one of the most heinous crimes of modern times: the sexual exploitation of another human being for profit.”

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