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MS-13 Member Charged for Child Sex Trafficking

MS-13 Member Charged for Child Sex Trafficking

On October 5, 2012, the Eastern District of Virginia announced that Adonay Fuentes (“Cheesy or “Crazy Boy”) of Prince George’s County in Maryland was arrested for his role in a child sex trafficking ring.  The ring was run by the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) street gang.  

U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride stated, “This arrest marks the twelfth gang member we have charged with child sex trafficking.  We hope gang members and other pimps realize they face serious prison time for profiting from forcing these children in sexual slavery.”

According to the FBI and court records, Fuentes is an active member of the Normandie Locos Savatruch (NLS) branch of MS-13 and conspired with other gang members to enforce and maintain a juvenile prostitution scheme.  The scheme occurred for several months, and at least three teenage girls were recruited into the prostitution scheme during those months.  

Fuentes is suspected of recruiting different customers, speaking with continuing customers, collecting fees from prostitutes and customers, transporting the underage prostitutes to have sex with clients, and providing the underage girls with alcohol and drugs.  

One victim was a runaway between the age of 15 and 16 during the time of the crime.  According to court documents, the girl was forced into prostitution after members of the gang threatened to hurt her boyfriends is she did not cooperate.  She was then forced to have sex with clients several times a day and every day during the week for at least a month.  

James W. McJunkin, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, stated: “The sex trafficking of an individual completely against their will, by force or threat of force, is a form of modern-day slavery.  The FBI and our partners on the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force will continue our focused effort to track down and bring to justice those who exploit our children and engage in human sex trafficking.”

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Kentucky House Passes Anti-Trafficking Bill Unanimously

 Kentucky House Passes Anti-Trafficking Bill Unanimously

Victims of sex trafficking would no longer be punished and charged with prostitution, but would instead receive social services and treatment, according to the provisions of a law passed by the Kentucky House of Representatives this week.  The bill, which passed 95-0, is intended to make it easier to combat human trafficking in the state of Kentucky.

Over 150 calls reporting sex trafficking incidents in Kentucky were made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.  Over 100 victims of sex trafficking received services from a single private Catholic charity in Louisville.  Yet in spite of these numbers, fewer than 20 total cases have been filed in the state of Kentucky since 2008.  The vast majority of these cases involved women trafficked by relatives.  Women who were trafficked, instead of receiving help, were more often arrested and jailed for prostitution offenses.

Much of the problem, according to several state lawmakers, comes from a lack of education and training in police departments about how to successfully identify what sex trafficking looks like.  With so much emphasis on arresting prostitutes and their clientele, many police departments lose sight of the fact that the prostitutes being arrested may not have been selling their bodies willingly.

The new law includes provisions that would allocate funding for police training on trafficking issues.  After receiving training, police should be better able to identify trafficking victims and prosecute their traffickers.

If the bill becomes law, sex traffickers will face a $10,000 fine in addition to having to pay back any financial gains from their sex trafficking activities.  They would also be required to forfeit any houses or other property that had been used for illegal trafficking activities, from prostitution to moving trafficked women.  Any money from traffickers would be put into a fund that would benefit victims, including providing social services and assistance with re-entering normal life outside of prostitution.

While the unanimous passage of the bill in the Kentucky House gives anti-trafficking advocates a reason to be hopeful about its chances, it hasn't yet passed the last hurdle.  Last time a similar bill was passed in the House, the Kentucky Senate allowed the bill to die in committee.  Now that the House has voted in favor of the bill, the Senate will take a look over the coming weeks.  It is expected that the bill will be signed by the governor if it makes it past the state Senate.

Source: ky.gov, courier-journal.com

Defendants Added to Savannah Sex Trafficking Indictment

Defendants Added to Savannah Sex Trafficking Indictment

A sex trafficking ring that preyed on Mexican women hoping for a better life in the United States was shut down by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation.  Thirteen defendants were added to the indictment last week, bringing the total number of defendants in the case to 25.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Dark Night,” was designed to rescue women who had been targeted in a sex trafficking scheme that spanned from Mexico to the Carolinas.  A dozen women have already been freed as a result of Operation Dark Night, and others may still be freed as the investigation and arrests continue.

According to investigators, the sex trafficking ring was used to move the women around frequently—as often as once a week—to prevent them from knowing where they were or escaping.  Women were raped as often as 30 times per day during their sexual slavery, and were prostituted in mobile home parks and hotel rooms throughout the Southern United States.  This ring, specifically, focused on small towns.

Typically, the women being prostituted by the traffickers would have all their possessions in a small room, no more than 10 by 12 feet.  Usually, these possessions amounted to little more than a worn mattress, clothing, and a mirror.

The defendants in the case have also been accused of using threats and coercion to make sure that the women stayed under their control.  Some of the women reported that their children were held hostage in Mexico by the sex traffickers, and that they were told if they refused to cooperate, their children would be killed or sold into sexual slavery.

Operation Dark Night was considered particularly difficult, because the women were located in so many different locations.  The raids had to be coordinated precisely to avoid tipping off traffickers still holding women at other locations.  If one house had been raided even slightly early, alarms might have gone off, alerting people to the police and scattering them to safehouses before they could be apprehended.

In order to ensure that women's immigration status is not an issue during sex trafficking cases, women who have been the victims of sex crimes are given special temporary visas that enable them to stay in the United States without fear of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is engaged in investigations of sex trafficking rings throughout the United States, especially those that involve women being trafficked across national borders.

Source: fbi.gov

Registered Sex Offender

Registered Sex Offender

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER

WHAT IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER?

A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER is an individual who has been convicted, in a court of law, of a sex crime.  Different States have different parameters as to what is considered a "sex crime" but the usual cases include conviction of rape, statutory rape, molestation, sexual assault and production or viewing of child pornography.  This list is not exclusive and certain States have expanded the definition.  Upon re-entering society an individual convicted of a sex offense must register with his/her local law enforcement community, as per both federal and state laws, which will put that individual on "the grid" so that members of that community can be aware that someone convicted of a sex offense is living nearby.

HOW DO YOU FILE AS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER?

Since MEGAN'S LAW was put into federal law in 1994 it has continued to grow in effect.  In 2007 the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act implemented new guidelines that require sex offenders to register with police and notify them of their residence, place of work, license plate and driver's license numbers and pictures and have them available to the public.  Since the enactment of the 07' act there has been severe punishment handed down for failure to coincide with the mandate.  This has included a life sentence of one individual for failure to register a residence, even though the individual was homeless and was incapable of reporting one.  This makes clear that the law enforcement and the courts take the matter extremely serious.

In some places the lists of sex offenders are made available to the public.  These can be found in newspapers, public notices, and the internet.  In Missouri, for example, registered sex offenders are required to avoid children during Halloween.  Studies have shown that recidivism is high and most States will take all precautions when dealing with sex offenders, especially those convicted of sexual crimes against children.

HOW CAN I FIND REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS IN MY COMMUNITY?

The federal government maintains a National Sex Offender Public Website which enables all U.S. citizens to access and discover registered sex offenders in their community.  In addition to this many states and local communities maintain their own websites that divulge this information including names, addresses, photographs, descriptions, etc.  The public policy is to insure that families and children are protected from registered sex offenders.

This policy is not without its critics.  Many people assert that this form of registry only helps families of victims and those outraged by sexual crimes to plot revenge against sex offenders.  For detailed information about where sex offenders may be located in your area you may visit the FBI's Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) at www.nsopw.gov.  

 

Man Uses Sword during Arrest for Child Pornography

Man Uses Sword during Arrest for Child Pornography

On October 4, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced that Kamil Mezalka of Palm Coast pleaded guilty for receiving child pornography over the internet.  He now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prisons and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervised release.  

 
According to the FBI, the agent in Philadelphia started an undercover investigation to find people who were using file sharing programs to find child pornography.  During the investigation, the agent found a flagged IP address was for an account user in Palm Coast, Florida.  
 
The federal search warrant is where the sword comes into play.  FBI agents served the federal search warrant on May 8, 2012 and entered Mezalka’s residence.  When the federal agents entered the home, Mezalka quickly came out of the bedroom and quickly went back inside and locked the door.  FBI agents repeatedly demanded that exit from the bedroom, but Mezalka kept the door locked and used a samurai sword on his desktop computer and compact discs.  
 
In despite of the unexpected sword rampage, federal agents were still able to collect evidence.  The hard drives were damaged, but forensic investigation showed that the one hard drive was storing more than 12,000 images and over 3,000 videos.  At least 500 of these images and 100 videos were of child pornography.  
 
During questioning by authorities, Mezalka eventually admitted that he used the file sharing program to down pornography—some of which was child pornography.  
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Philadelphia and Jackson investigated this case with the help of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.  
 
This investigation was part of Project Safe Childhood.  
 
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

CBP Officer Sentenced for Sexual Assault of Women

CBP Officer Sentenced for Sexual Assault of Women

On October 4, 2012, the Department of Justice released a press release that stated Paulo Morales of Miami was sentenced to 33 months in prison and one year of supervised release.  U.S. District Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum sentenced Morales. 

 
Morales, who is a former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer, pleaded guilty in July of 2012 to three misdemeanor counts for depriving rights to several women on different occasions.  During his guilty plea, Morales admitted to his charges of sexual assault that occurred on several dates in January of 2011.  While he was working as a CBP officer at the Miami International Airport, Morales groped the breasts of at three different women while in custody of the CBP.  The women never consented and Morales violated their rights.  
 
Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated, “This officer abandoned his commitment to legitimate law enforcement and used his power to abuse women in his custody.  The Justice Department is committed to holding officers who engage in such conduct accountable.” 
 
Wifredo A. Ferrar, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, showed a similar tone of disgust for the officer’s actions: “My office and the Department of Justice are fully committed to protecting the civil rights of our citizens from all types of abuses.  In this case, the harm to the victims and the general public cut deep because it came at the very hands of someone who was sworn to serve and protect the public, and instead breached that trust.” 
 
The case was investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and the CBP Internal Affairs.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William White and Trial Attorney Henry Leventis of the Civil Rights Division.  
 
Source: Department of Justice

3 Illinois Men Indicted for Child Pornography

3 Illinois Men Indicted for Child Pornography

 

On October 5, 2012, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that three men were indicted for child pornography offenses.  The investigation was led by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the East Central Illinois Cyber Crimes Working Group, and local police departments from Champaign, Urbana, and Decatur.  
 
Erik Barthelemy of Champaign, Danny L. Smith of Georgetown, and Dustin R. Underwood of Clinton were charged for distributing and possessing child pornography in different cases.  
 
The ICE reports that Barthelemy was arrested on September 10, 2012 and detained by the U.S. Marshals Service.  He was charged with two counts of distributing child pornography in October of 2011, and he was also charged with one count of possessing child pornography.  
 
Smith was arrested on September 11 and detained by U.S. Marshals.  He is charged with three counts of distributing child pornography between May and July of 2012, and he is also charged with one count of possession of  child pornography.  
 
Underwood was arrested on August 28 and charged with three counts of distributing child pornography between February and March of 2012.  He was also charged with one count of possession of child pornography.  His trial is set for November 26, 2012.  
 
Each count of distributing child pornography has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a max penalty of 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.  If the defendant was convicted of child sex abuse or child pornography in the past, their mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years in prison and they face a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.  Possessing child pornography carries a sentence of 10 years in prison.  
 
The investigation was part of Operation Predator which targets sexual predators across the nation.  The HSI initiative targets people who travel overseas for sex with minors, criminal alien sex offenders, sex traffickers, and those distribute and download child pornography.  
 
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Operation Predator Tackles another Sexual Predator

Operation Predator Tackles another Sexual Predator

 

On October 9, 2012, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that Blayne T. Hulbert was sentenced to 100 months in prison after distributing child pornography.  The investigation was led by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Seattle Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
 
According to the court documents and the ICE, special agents under HSI in Los Angeles started following Hulbert after an investigation into the distribution of child pornography of an image hosting website based in Russia.  A person with the screen name “kiddgrimm” received videos of child sexual abuse, and HSI was then able to link the account to Hulbert.  
 
HSI Seattle and the ICAC Task Force proceeded to search the part-time residences of Hulbert in Monroe and Bellevue in November of 2011.  Authorities recovered a laptop and a digital storage device, and a forensic investigation later found thousands of images of child exploitation.  Some of videos contained violent sexual abuse.  
 
When Hulbert was arrested by HSI, he admitted that he was already part of a child molestation investigation led by local authorities.  Apart from the federal charges, he was also charged by Washington State authorities for child molestation and was sentenced to 67 months in state prison.  
 
Hulbert is ordered to serve his federal sentence after the end of his state sentence.  The judge approved the joint sentencing along with a lifetime of supervised release.  Hulbert must also register as a sex offender.  
 
Operation Predator investigated the case, which is an HSI initiative spanning across the United States to protect children from sexual predators.  If you suspect a person is a child predator or seems involved in suspicious activity, you can call the hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.  You can also complete a tip form online, and both the phone number and online form are received by investigators during any time of the day.  
 
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Jerry Sandusky Sentenced at Least 30 Years

Jerry Sandusky Sentenced at Least 30 Years

 

On October 9, 2012, Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison and no more than 60 years in prison.  He was found guilty of 45 of 48 counts that ranged from involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a minor and indecent assault to unlawful contact with minors.  
 
Jerry Sandusky was the once revered defensive coordinator the Penn State University football team, but his arrest on December 7, 2012 sent shockwaves throughout the Happy Valley community and Penn State football program.  The scandal led to the demise of Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, and the student body and football team were left with scars that will continue on for many years.  
 
Many of the victims were part of Jerry Sandusky’s charity called Second Mile.  It was found he took advantage of at-risk kids and used his status to conceal his true motives.  The sentencing of Jerry Sandusky will never be able to put an end to the suffering the victims will have to endure for their rest of their lives.  
 
The Order for Sandusky’s sentencing was released by the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County on October 9, 2012.  The minimum sentence will ensure Jerry Sandusky stays in prison for the rest of his life.  
 
Apart from the prison time, Jerry Sandusky must pay for all costs of the prosecution.  He is also ordered to pay restitution to the Pennsylvania Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program, and damages will be awarded to the victims.  
 
Sandusky will remain at the Centre County Correctional Facility for 10 more days until he is transported to the Department of Corrections, Diagnostic, and Classification Center in Camp Hill for more processing.  During his time in Camp Hill, Sandusky is ordered to submit a DNA sample, photograph, and fingerprints as required by the DNA Detection of Sexual and violent Predators Act.  
 
Source: Centre County Government, Pennsylvania

Former Church Employee Guilty of Online Child Enticement

Former Church Employee Guilty of Online Child Enticement


On November 28, 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that Jeffrey Darlin from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to trying to coerce and entice a minor over the internet.  The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  


Darlin pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Delaware on federal crimes.  


Court documents show that Darlin was the former facilities manager of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.  Darlin began an online relationship with a person in a Yahoo chat room he believed was a 14-year-old girl on January 21, 2012, but the “girl” was an undercover HSI agent.  


The undercover agent told Darlin that she was a high-school cheerleader and gymnast.  During the first couple of talks, he informed the “girl” how to delete evidence of their online communications from the computer.  Darlin also talked about teaching the “minor” how to engage in certain sex acts.  


Darlin used his computer in the church office to talk with the “girl.”  He also sent pictures of himself engaging in sexual acts and told the “girl” he would engage in the same acts if they met.  Darlin eventually arranged to meet the “girl” at Bellevue State Park and travel to a hotel on Route 202.  


HSI agents arrested Darlin at Bellevue State Park on February 10, 2012.  The Swarthmore Presbyterian Church immediately terminated Darlin and cooperated throughout the entire investigation.  


John P. Kelleghan with HSI Philadelphia stated: “Homeland Security Investigations is committed to stopping predators in their tracks. As shown here today, this defendant will no longer be a threat to our children.  This case is yet another example of the extraordinary collaborative efforts among law enforcement in Delaware, to protect the most vulnerable among us.”  


The investigation and arrest were part of Operation Predator under HSI.  


Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement