Recently-Freed Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein May Face Child Trafficking Charges

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire Bill Clinton pal who just left jail after completing a sentence for soliciting sex with a minor, may be headed back soon: The Daily Beast reports that the Justice Department is investigating him for child trafficking.

Epstein, famous for being rich, being friends with Bill Clinton, having an egg-shaped penis, and being a vindictive pervert, can’t be prosecuted again for the charges he copped to in his plea deal. But according to The Daily Beast’s Conchita Sarnoff, new charges might be coming:

Federal investigators continue to investigate Epstein’s activities, to see whether there is evidence of child trafficking-a far more serious charge than the two in his non-prosecution agreement, the arrangement between Epstein and the Department of Justice allowing him to plead guilty to lower-level state crimes. Trafficking can carry a 20-year sentence.

Since there’s no statute of limitations for sex-trafficking, and Epstein’s predatory adventures apparently date back more than a few years, it’s likely there’s more women who could come forward. (Apparently some have contacted a lawyer, but nothing’s been filed yet.)

It’s not just Epstein, either—his buddy Jean Luc Brunel, head of the MC2 modeling agency, is also being investigated, and some of the models he represented (many from overseas) may have been enlisted as companions on Epstein’s private jet.

source: http://gawker.com/5600294/recently+freed-sex-offender-jeffrey-epstein-may-face-child-trafficking-charges

Charges filed in ‘Nice Guys’ sex ring

Ex-assistant county attorney is accused of importing high-dollar prostitutes for Minnesota johns.

A former assistant Hennepin County attorney was accused in charges filed Thursday of running a high-dollar online prostitution ring that connected women from other countries with regular customers dubbed “Minnesota Nice Guys.”

It’s been more than two years since Minneapolis police started looking at alleged ringleader John St. Marie and a customer list of 30 business owners, lawyers, accountants and mortgage bankers in their early 40s to mid-60s who allegedly met the women at some of Minneapolis’ finest hotels.

The group got its name because members had clean backgrounds, regarded themselves as above mistreating the women and paid well, investigators said. One women charged her clients $500 an hour.

St. Marie, 66, was charged with six felony counts of promoting prostitution, but none of the Nice Guys has yet to be charged. Police presented cases to the Minneapolis city attorney’s office, which is reviewing them for possible misdemeanor prostitution charges.

Jim Dahlquist, St. Marie’s attorney, said that although a long time elapsed between the start of the investigation and the charges, “I’m sure they [authorities] will have an explanation that will be somewhat plausible.”

The accusations against St. Marie became public in a Star Tribune article more than a year ago. St. Marie declined to comment Thursday.

The charges were filed in neighboring Ramsey County to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. County Attorney Susan Gaertner said the charging delay was due to the case’s complexity and her office’s need to place a higher priority on cases with a higher public safety concern.

The year-long Nice Guys investigation, headed by the police department’s Violent Offender Task Force, also helped bring down MyFastPass.com, the Twin Cities’ largest locally owned prostitution website. The site was started in 2005 by a 47-year-old Woodbury woman who ran an illicit massage business in downtown Minneapolis for several years. Investigators discovered a database of more than 350 prostitutes and johns using her site, according to documents. The woman hasn’t been charged.

Investigators said the Nice Guys ring was one of the most unusual they’ve seen in Minnesota and that its activities show just how sophisticated sex-trafficking networks have become. The group operated for three years, its members getting weekly e-mails advertising women who flew into town from Florida.

The investigation started in July 2008 after Sgt. Matt Wente and his partner, Sgt. Grant Snyder, got an anonymous e-mail from a john who said St. Marie was supplying illegal immigrants for prostitution. According to police, the e-mailer made contact with St. Marie at the Erotic Review, an international website for self-described “hobbyists” looking for high-dollar escorts.

On the site, St. Marie had “high status” because he was frequently praised in reviews for the quality of women he lured to Minnesota, police said.

St. Marie booked the women’s flights and rooms and scheduled trysts between them and the other Nice Guys, the charges said. None of the women was forced into prostitution, but police said many fell into the business because they needed money. None is from the United States.

Police did surveillance in hotel rooms of several johns who were set up by women who worked for St. Marie but cooperated with police once the investigation began. The women shared customer lists with investigators and at their direction scheduled more appointments with the Nice Guys, the charges said.

One time, police said, they saw a man drive to his son’s baseball game after a hotel rendezvous St. Marie arranged.

Police recorded a conversation between St. Marie and a prostitute about her appointments at a townhouse in Chaska, the charges said. The woman told police that in exchange for sex, St. Marie paid for her airline tickets and hotel stays, the charges said. Investigators posed as Nice Guys online and had conversations in which St. Marie admitted “that he was a pimp,” the charges said.

At various times, investigators detained, interviewed and released at least six Nice Guys. Police found one of the women’s appointment schedules during a search of St. Marie’s computer. St. Marie has never been arrested in connection with the case, and his attorney said Thursday he has cooperated with authorities. St. Marie, who uses a wheelchair because of childhood polio, started the Nice Guys ring shortly after he retired from the Hennepin County attorney’s office in 2003, police say. St. Marie didn’t prosecute cases, but spent most of his 28-year career representing social service agencies and approving or revoking family foster care licenses.

He also worked in the office’s Human Services Division, civilly committing mentally ill and chemically dependent people.

St. Marie can move only his neck and the fingers of his left hand. He said he feels relatively healthy but as a child never expected to make it to 66. Gaertner said his health would be most relevant if the case “gets to sentencing or the disposition phase.”

source: http://www.startribune.com/local/99596299.html?page=3&c=y

The World’s Oldest Oppression

The trafficking of women and children for purposes of sex has grown exponentially to become a major criminal activity—generating funds of around $12 billion a year, just behind the criminal funds generated by illegal drug and arms sales. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines trafficking as follows: “The recruitment, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, or abduction or fraud or deception, or the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of person having control of another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others, or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Because it is usually clandestine, precise statistics on sexual trafficking world-wide can be hard to estimate. The United States State Department reckons the number to run, minimally, to about 800,000 yearly. Other estimates (for example, by the Human Rights Law Group) run into the millions annually. Moreover, it seems to be growing apace. In 1996 at the First World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm, the issue was raised as a growing phenomenon. The International Labor Organization in 1998 saw it as an issue of global concern on the rise. The Second World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in 2001 estimated that the situation had worsened since 1996.

I first became aware and interested in this horrendous criminal violation of human rights and dignity issue when I began teaching and writing about globalization a decade or so ago. I wanted also to know how criminal elements used the new tools of globalization ( the internet, world travel and banking etc) to further criminal activities such as smuggling, arms and drugs sales and prostitution. I chanced upon a 2005 book by a Canadian journalist, Victor Malarek, The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade. Malarak recounted in that book the tales of numerous Eastern European women from the old Soviet bloc countries who were promised jobs in western Europe as nannies or maids only to find themselves, first, brutally raped by the criminals who contacted them, having their passports removed and kept under guard in the bordellos across Europe where they were whisked. The portrait was one not of happy hookers or the world’s oldest profession but rather of the world’s oldest oppression.

Prostitution, to be sure, is not a new phenomenon. But the global reach of transporting women from Eastern Europe or South Asia to cities such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Melbourne is something new. Much of the trafficking in Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Columbia and Eastern Europe is controlled by large criminal organizations.

They target certain key countries (Moldavia, Ukraine, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia) to recruit young women ( sometimes they are sold by their parents) who are, then, sent, first, to some key transit countries (Austria, Israel, Mexico) and then to their final destination countries (Australia, The United States, Japan, Korea being major receiving countries). Key traffickers target also places with a lot of United States troops ( e.g. Korea) or where there are UN Peace keepers. One Ukrainian trafficked woman, Olega recognized eight of her former clients (UN Peacekeepers) when the bar she was forced to work out of in Bosnia was raided.

Over the past decade, words of concern about the phenomenon of sex trafficking have proliferated but to little effect. Laws are weak (and often punish the prostitute but not “ the john”); governments are corrupt; many of the economies from which the women are snatched into sex slavery are in shambles and national and international resolve is shaky.

A year ago in Rome, at a remarkable congress organized by the International Union of Superiors General and the International Organization for Migration, dozens of women religious spoke to the issue. “Human trafficking is one of the effects of the globalization of poverty and hunger against which governments are only engaged in a war of words.” The statement from the congress complained that national policies were ineffective in getting women who were forced into prostitution off the street. They saw the phenomenon of sex slavery as not only a violation of human rights but “an embarrassment for all humanity.”

Trafficking feeds on the three famous P’s: Patriarchy (men’s sense of entitlement over women), poverty and powerlessness. Many prostitutes freed from their slavery return because of the lack of economic alternatives. Most studies of prostitutes, however, show high rates of physical assault and rape. One study of 207 trafficked women, conducted by the London School of Health and Tropical Hygiene, found that 8 out of the ten women had been physically beaten or assaulted. 61% had been threatened with a gun.

One of the difficulties in addressing the issue of global prostitution is the different stance of those who want to right the wrongs. There are abolitionists versus reformists. Abolitionists, such as in a 2003 statement by the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women, oppose any legalization of prostitution. They see prostitution as an inherently degrading profession for the women and a violation of human dignity to see sex and a woman’s body as an item to bought and sold. An alternative NGO, The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, rejoins that abolition of prostitution is doomed. They seek its legalization and a renaming of prostitutes as ‘ sex workers’, with all the labor rights of any worker. Places which have legalized prostitution ( e.g. Amsterdam, Melbourne), however, have seen little diminution of a criminal element or of the influx of sex trafficked slaves. Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam rued the impact of legalization in his city. In Melbourne, for the 100 legal bordellos there are 400 underground, illegal brothels, many of which employ trafficked women from Indonesia or Thailand.

In a new book, The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It, Victor Malarek takes the position of the abolitionists. He champions a stringent newish law in Sweden which targets the johns. In Sweden, selling sex is de-criminalized (giving the woman some leeway). But buying sex is a crime. Middlemen who purchase a sexual service for someone else face a fine and a possible jail term of up to six months. Anyone who has sex with a trafficked woman or with a woman who has bruises on her body gets a specially heavy fine or jail sentence. Norway has followed Sweden’s law. Norway’s justice minister explained the rationale: “People are not merchandise. By criminalizing the purchase of sexual favors, Norway will become less attractive in the eye of human traffickers.” Norway also has initiatives to help women leave prostitution.

source: http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=3148

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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YWCA gets federal funds to shelter sex trafficking victims

The YWCA of Greater Portland will use $900,000 in federal money to help establish a shelter for victims of human sex trafficking, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden plans to announce in Portland on Saturday.

The funds come after a U.S. Department of Justice study ranked Portland and Seattle among 12 hub cities where traffickers recruit teenagers for sex work and move them around the country.

“One of the problems police have is these girls, when they’re arrested or turn themselves in or want to get out of the life, they have no place to go,” says Tom Towslee, a spokesman for Wyden. “It takes time for police to develop the evidence and case they need against the traffickers. With no place to go, all too often they end up going back into the shadows and often return to the men who abused them in the first place.

“These women are not criminals. They need someplace they can be safe, not in a jail, and can get services like counseling, which they need to turn their lives around.”

Saltzman efforts

The YWCA initiative is just one of a few underway to help get sex trafficking victims and prostitutes off the street and into safe houses.

Wyden’s office is also co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would bring a federal grant of $2.5 million per year for three years, to create six safe houses around the country for girls 12 to 18 years old. Towslee says that Wyden hopes Portland would receive one of those grants, since it is recognized as a major hub for underage sex trafficking. The funds would support a safe house as well as boost law enforcement resources toward combating the crime.

The third effort under way is led by City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who is working on a pilot program that would begin this fall. The program would place women seeking to escape their life on the street into private-market units around the city, rather than in one central “safe house.”

Offering support

The nonprofit Join, which already works with the city’s housing efforts, uses a “housing-first” model that places people in housing and then gives them the social, financial and other support they need to maintain that housing. Join will provide the up-front rent and moving costs, work with the landlord and supply other help as needed.

LifeWorks Northwest, the nonprofit treatment center that already provides many services to these women, will supply the counseling, addiction treatment, employment assistance and any other help they may need.

If the woman relapses and returns to the street for a short time, she will not lose their housing, since that’s one of the philosophies of the housing-first model, says Amy Trieu, a policy coordinator for Saltzman: “The purpose is to build that trust.”

The city plans to start with a small group of four to six women this fall, then expand later.

Wyden will announce the funds for the YWCA at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the facility, 1111 S.W. 10th Ave. Other leaders joining him include Saltzman, County Commissioner Diane McKeel, State Rep. Carolyn Tomei and Eric Brown, executive director of the YWCA of Greater Portland.

source:http://portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=128044540611027200

VICTIMS OF MURDER

VICTIMS OF MURDER, Unfortunetly this murder was my father.   June 11,1986 My father was murdered. No one has ever been arrested in the case. The state police consider his case an accident. I had proof that my father was working on a case against his astranged wife’s father. A murder for hire case that a local Fire Department was working in Bell’s junk yard. Bell is my father’s astranged wife’s father. Funny he’s the one that gave my dad the car that he died in. Bell stated in Interrogatories “He would kill anyone who knew too much about his business”. My father owned a biker’s bar and was a Chief with the Fire Department. Respect is what my father gave and is what is got in return. I worked in my fathers bars and when he was missing I had all the love honor and repect from only the bikers. I wondered where all the family friends where when I needed then the most. The only people who came through for me were the guys from the bars. They were there in full force at my fathers funeral. His murderer was there as well, The guys came to protect me and my family. I have only the most LOVE, HONOR & RESPECT I want all of you guys to to know this. You were there for us when we needed you. Thank you Jimmy Regan for all your help with the bar when dad died. I know how much my dad respected you.

HE’S A LADIES MAN
Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 9:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Sex Offender Volunteered For High Football Team

In Seattle a Level III sex offender was allowed to work as a volunteer with the Evergreen High School football team, according to school officials. It was the head coach’s responsibility to see that the volunteer passed a background check before having contact with students.

Two female students who serve as managers with the football team alerted authorities after the volunteer made comments that made them feel uncomfortable. He was subsequently arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.

Sex offenders are “offensive” because of their nature. It’s how they are wired. They simply don’t know any better. Even if they know right from wrong, they can’t help themselves; it’s their “way”. Pit-bulls are often aggressive dogs that attack for no reason. It’s their nature. Golden Retrievers are big dopey dogs who just want to play and show affection. It’s their nature.

It’s disappointing that the coach didn’t do his job properly. What may have happened is the coach took a liking to the volunteer and “trusted” that he didn’t have a record. The coach like most people didn’t want to believe he was in the presence of a bad egg. None of us want to admit we are in the presence of evil.

His denial and lack of accountability put his students at risk. Those days should be over because we live in such a litigious society. However our “niceness” often makes us stupid. The girls on the other hand who spoke up were immediately listened to and were taken seriously. Good for them. 10 years ago, and even today sexual harassment of this nature would be blamed on the women and swept under the rug. Fortunately we are becoming more civilized.

Robert Siciliano is a Personal Security Expert and Adviser to Intelius.com. For more information see Intelius at Sex Offender Check to reduce your chances of encountering a bad guy. See him discussing Sex Offenders on Fox Boston.

source: http://www.bloggernews.net/124945

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm  Comments (4)  
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Slavery in Our Time

For the first time, the U.S. government acknowledges modern-day slavery in the United States.

 

One-hundred-and-fifty years after the abolition of slavery, the State Department has acknowledged that people in the United States continue to be bought and sold as property.

 The department’s 2010 “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report, a global review of human trafficking and civic and legal responses to it, lists the United States for the first time among the nations that harbor modern-day slavery.

The report was a long time in coming. In 2001, when Washington was rolling out landmark anti-trafficking legislation, Maria, a Mexican woman, testified before the House Committee on International Relations on her experience with sex slavery in Florida. “If any of the girls refused to be with a customer, we were beaten. If we adamantly refused, the bosses would show us a lesson by raping us brutally. We worked six days a week, twelve hours a day. Our bodies were sore and swollen. If anyone became pregnant we were forced to have abortions. The cost of the abortion was added to the smuggling debt,” she said.

The report gives the United States high marks for its efforts to combat trafficking, but victims remain scattered throughout the workforce, hidden from view: the captive migrant tomato picker, the prostitute bonded by a smuggling debt, the domestic servant working without pay.

The media often focus on stories of young girls lured into prostitution rings. But government data suggest that “more foreign victims are found in labor trafficking than sex trafficking,” particularly in “above ground” sectors like hotel work and home healthcare. Estimates vary, but the number of victims worldwide could be more than 12 million children and adults.

Today’s slave trade capitalizes on vast inequalities, sharpened by economic globalization, that spur migration across national borders. Many governments have instituted anti-trafficking policies, but with uneven success. The TIP report states that 23 countries got an “upgrade” in the ranking of their anti-trafficking programs. But 19 countries were “downgraded” due to “sparse victim protections, desultory implementation, or inadequate legal structures.”

Despite the country’s relative wealth and sophisticated legal system, slavery trickles into the United States through deep cracks in labor and immigration laws.

Victims often remain hidden because they depend on their bosses not only for their livelihoods but for protection from immigration authorities. Even for documented workers, legal status is not a safeguard, and precarious temporary worker visas may even facilitate trafficking.

Stephanie Richard, director of policy with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), told In These Times: “We’re actually seeing an increase in the number of cases of people coming in on lawful visas, and then ending up in human trafficking … because people are using those visas as one of the forms of coercion for keeping people working for them against their will.”

To its credit, the State Department’s report stresses that anti-trafficking measures should not just emphasize cracking down on trafficking crimes, and that a comprehensive “victim-centered” approach should “focus on all victims, offering them the opportunity to access shelter, comprehensive services, and in certain cases, immigration relief.”

To qualify for special immigration relief­-the T visa­-trafficking survivors must cooperate with law enforcement investigations—a process advocates say can be humiliating and traumatic. That may be why the number of T visas granted each year is far smaller than the estimated number of survivors. And despite pressure to bring survivors into the criminal process, the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit reported only 47 convictions in 43 human trafficking prosecutions in fiscal year 2009.

This year’s report glosses over the systemic failures that fuel the thirst for cheap labor—or even free labor. Sienna Baskin, an attorney with the Sex Workers Project—which campaigns for legislation to protect the rights of trafficked sex workers in New York—sees a correlation between the trafficking epidemic and immigration and law enforcement policies that criminalize victims. Baskin told In These Times, “The growing problem of labor exploitation could be lessened by comprehensive immigration reform that provides visas and fair wages to all workers.”

The Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers merges anti-trafficking, immigration reform and labor activism in its campaigns for farm workers’ rights. The group was recently honored by the White House for its Campaign for Fair Food, which has successfully pressured corporations to adjust their labor policies across the supply chain, from the tomato farms all the way up to restaurants like Taco Bell.

At the D.C. event announcing the new TIP report, Laura Germino, coordinator of the Coalition’s Anti-Slavery Campaign, said that 20 years ago the United States refused to acknowledge “that the unbroken threat of slavery that has so tragically woven through our history … was a constant.” She added, “But here’s the good part. There was nowhere to go but up.”

source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/6192/slavery_in_our_time

Sex Trafficking Investigation Focuses on van der Sloot

 Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch native charged with killing a Peruvian woman and extorting money from the mother of missing U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, may have even more legal problems ahead.

Earlier this month, the National Enquirer reported on van der Sloot’s alleged involvement in sex trafficking in Thailand. Now Peru’s minister of justice has confirmed that Thai authorities are pursuing criminal charges against van der Sloot, according to CBS News.

 

AP
Thai authorities are pursuing criminal charges against Joran van der Sloot for his alleged involvement with sex trafficking in the country, officials say.
Holloway, an 18-year-old from Alabama, disappeared on a trip to Aruba in 2005. She was last seen leaving a nightclub with van der Sloot, who was then living in Aruba. Following Holloway’s disappearance, van der Sloot reportedly traveled to Bangkok, where he posed as a modeling agency consultant, the tabloid reports.

Some of the girls he allegedly approached have disappeared and have never been found, according to the Enquirer.

Though cautioning that it’s only supposition until Thai authorities finish their investigation, Harold Copus — a former FBI agent who was once hired to investigate the Holloway case by the “Dr. Phil” show — said van der Sloot is believed to have been a middle man.

“In the sex slave industry, the middle man would get a fee for getting the girls and moving them around,” said Copus, now head of Copus Security Consultants in Atlanta.

During his own investigation in Aruba, Copus heard rumors that “girls were taken out of Aruba to be used in the sex trade,” he said. “There was supposedly a guy from Chicago there, a reputed mobster, who has been quoted as saying that a good [sex slave] is worth a quarter of a million dollars.”

Copus told AOL News that while there is a possibility that Holloway, if kidnapped, was sold into slavery, he doubts she would still be alive today.

“Usually they’ll dope the girls up so they have no concept of what they are doing,” Copus explained, adding that once the women are deemed no longer useful, they often are killed.

“There is another seedy business out there called the snuff trade, where they sell or trade recordings of actual murders,” he said. “That’s the final exploitation.”

The National Enquirer’s report is not the first time van der Sloot’s name has come up during investigations into the illegal sex trade industry.

In 2008, Dutch journalist Peter de Vries secretly videotaped van der Sloot inside a Bangkok room with two young Thai women and two men who were posing as Dutch sex trade bosses. According to de Vries’ expose, van der Sloot told the women they would be working as models in Holland, but in actuality they would be delivered to the Dutch prostitution market and he would make several thousand dollars for each woman he delivered.

“He was in the process of recruiting girls for prostitution … that is what we saw [in the video],” Copus said. “What we didn’t see was what was going to happen if the girls didn’t want to be a prostitute. There’s a lot of concern here as to what his intentions were.”

Not long after the video aired, van der Sloot appeared on the Fox News program “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren.” During the interview, he told Van Susteren he had sold Holloway to a mysterious stranger on a boat for $9,600.

“He just handed me a bag, grabbed [Natalee] by the arm and he went to the boat that he had in the water,” van der Sloot said.

But like other confessions he allegedly has made, van der Sloot later contacted Van Susteren and said the story was a lie.

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2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Police in Peru said Joran van der Sloot confessed to the May 30 killing of a 21-year-old Peruvian woman in his Lima hotel room. He retracted the statement, but a Peruvian judge upheld it and his attorney has promised to appeal. Van der Sloot has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in 2005.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Stephany Flores was reportedly seen with van der Sloot on May 29 at a Lima, Peru, casino, where he was said to have been participating in a poker tournament, and on May 30, at the hotel, where her body was found. Reports say the suspect became enraged after discovering Flores used his laptop and found he was connected to Holloway’s disappearance.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Hotel security camera footage released by Peruvian police showed van der Sloot leaving his hotel room alone on May 30. Earlier footage showed him arriving at the hotel with Flores. Van der Sloot faces charges of first-degree murder and robbery in Flores’ death. He is currently being held in Miguel Castro Castro, a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Lima.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Van der Sloot said he took cash from Flores’ wallet and went south to Chile, where he was later arrested. Here, Chilean police escort him out of a police station to be flown back to Peru on June 4.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Maria Elena Ramirez attends the funeral of her 21-year-old daughter, Stephany Flores, in Lima, Peru, on June 3.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Holloway was 18 when she disappeared while vacationing with friends in Aruba. She was last seen with van der Sloot, who made multiple, varying confessions in the case that prosecutors said were a mixture of “lies and fantasy.” Authorities believe Holloway is dead, but her body has not been found.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Van der Sloot, center, and brothers Satish Kalpoe, left, and Deepak Kalpoe, right, were seen leaving a nightclub with Holloway. All three were arrested but not charged in the case. Van der Sloot reportedly told Peruvian authorities he would discuss the location of Holloway’s body with Aruban officials, but only if he gets a transfer to a prison in the Caribbean island.

2 Cases, 1 Suspect

Holloway, left, poses with friends on May 29, 2005, just hours before her disappearance. The young women were on the trip to celebrate their high school graduation and were due to return to the U.S. the next day. (Sources: AP, ABC News, CNN)

2 Cases, 1 Suspect


If charges are filed against van der Sloot in Thailand, authorities there will have to wait until Peruvian officials wrap up their case against him. The Dutchman is being held there on charges of first-degree murder and robbery in the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, who was found dead in van der Sloot’s Lima hotel room on June 2.

If convicted of Flores’ murder, van der Sloot faces 15 to 35 years in prison.

Van der Sloot has also been indicted by U.S. authorities for his alleged involvement in a plot to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s family for information on her death and the location of her body.

There has been some concern that a conviction in Peru could mean that van der Sloot won’t face charges in the U.S. or Thailand — in the event charges are also filed there — because of the statute of limitations. But that won’t be an issue, said Steve Cron, a veteran criminal defense attorney in Santa Monica, Calif.

“Assuming he is convicted [in Peru], these other countries are going to make arrangements to have him flown [in] to stand trial, with the understanding that he’ll be returned to Peru once the trials are over,” Cron told AOL News. “Then, once Peru is done with him, he’ll have to go serve out any other remaining sentences in the other countries.”

While van der Sloot’s freedom continues to remain in question, Cron believes one thing is certain: “This kid’s going to be facing a lot of legal battles in the coming years.”

The New Hotbed of Human Trafficking Is … Ohio

Those of you who thought Ohio was all about rock n’ roll, amazing chili, and a seriously unhealthy football obsession may want to think again. A new report conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission found that 1800 people are trafficked in Ohio every year. This includes 800 immigrants who are exploited in commercial sex and factory work, as well as about 1000 American-born children who are forced into prostitution. Who would have thought that Ohio would be such a hotebed of human trafficking?

But why Ohio, whose largest city, Columbus, is dwarfed by neighboring Chicago? How can a place that sounds and appears so wholesome be responsible for forcing a thousand children into sexual slavery each year? The report cites weak laws on human trafficking, a growing demand for cheap labor, and Ohio’s proximity to the Canadian border as the key reasons modern-day slavery thrives in the state. I’m going to take a metaphorical highlighter to that word “demand,” because that is the key to the human trafficking crisis.

Like many other places in the U.S., Ohio has a growing immigrant population, including those who have migrated legally, illegally but voluntarily, and involuntarily. Undocumented migrants are at increased risk for trafficking and exploitation, and in Ohio about 800 of them were found exploited in factories, agriculture, constriction sites, and brothels. Often, migrants are trafficked by high organized criminal networks who transport the victims into and around the U.S. They are the criminals, but it’s the demand for cheap goods and food and for commercial sex that create an industry for trafficked immigrant workers.

(more…)

Why Is Thailand a Hub for Child Sex Tourism?

The city of Pattaya, Thailand, never intended for a pillar of their economy to be foreign men buying sex with children. Nor did they intended to become world-famous as a playground for pedophiles. And they certainly didn’t expect to see celebrities arrested on their streets for sex crimes. So how, then, did this small Thai city become the world capitol of child sex trafficking?

In Pattaya alone, there are an estimated 2,000 children involved in the prostitution industry year round, with an additional 900 or so traveling to the area for tourist season each year. These children are, for the most part, controlled by someone else, like a family member, a brothel owner, or a pimp. In addition to being deprived of an education, children in the sex industry are at increased risk for contracting HIV and other STDs, rape, and physical assault. Survivors of child sex trafficking are marred for years by the physical and emotional scars of their abuse.

Thailand, in general, and Pattaya specifically have become notorious for their child sex tourism industry through a combination of social, political, and economic circumstances. In Thailand, there is a massive wealth gap between the elite of the country and the populous, many of whom are very poor. The lack of social services and support for poor families and homeless children means there are few ways to get extra money other than prostitution. There has also been a long tradition of political corruption in Thailand, making it easy for pedophiles to buy their way out of trouble when caught with a child. As the availability of children and the laxity of law enforcement became known, Thailand grew as a destination for men seeking sex, and the child sex tourism industry grew in response.

Now, especially in areas like Pattaya, the money (spent at hotels, bars, restaurants, etc.) brought in by people traveling to Thailand for sex with children is a major component of the local economy. These factors can lead to a culture of tolerance for child sex tourism, which exists in many parts of Thailand.

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