Problem once thought dire hasn’t been confirmed

Millions spent to fight human trafficking; few examples found

It sounded like a script of an international spy thriller: lies, border-crossings, violence, sex.

Except Metro Police Sgt. Gil Shannon was describing the scene he and his officers encountered at dozens of Las Vegas Valley massage parlors every week: women speaking foreign languages, bags barely unpacked, practically imprisoned.

It was nothing less than “sex slavery.”

The audience of academics, police, lawyers and social workers gathered at UNLV listened intently as Shannon spoke about human trafficking, a scourge that was doubtless spreading across the valley. The theory, said Shannon and others, was simple: with sex for sale on the streets of Las Vegas, bad guys around the world must be bringing women here with lies or against their will to meet the demand. All the people sitting there had to do was work together to bust the traffickers and rescue the victims.

The date was Sept. 19, 2003.

Within two years, the federal government delivered more than a million dollars to help search for trafficking victims in the region. The fight was a top priority of the Bush administration, which would pour more than $150 million into similar efforts nationwide.

Today, however, despite the time and money invested, Southern Nevada is no closer to understanding the problem — or more important, even proving that there is a problem, say top officials at Metro Police and at the Salvation Army. The two agencies are the main players on a task force funded by most of the federal money.

No traffickers have been caught.

The number of victims has barely reached double digits.

What’s more, the Health and Human Services Department, one source of the federal money, has no records of the results of its grants and the other federal agency funding the effort, the Justice Department, would not provide records to the Las Vegas Sun.

Similar outcomes have been seen nationwide, with few victims and fewer traffickers identified since Congress passed a law to attack the problem in 2000. That law laid out conditions for the “T” visa, which gives trafficking victims the right to live in the United States.

As of November, only 1,318 such visas had been granted nationwide.

Federal estimates of the number of victims have ranged from 14,500 a year up to 50,000, the number cited in the 2000 law.

Sharon Neville is a lawyer with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles who was at the 2003 UNLV meeting. She trains attorneys and workers for nonprofit groups on the issue nationwide. Neville said she has stopped citing government estimates because she doesn’t think they’re reliable, and instead quotes the number of visas issued — “that’s the only thing you can point to.”

As for the results seen so far in Las Vegas and elsewhere, she doesn’t think it’s a sign that there is no problem, but rather that the federal money is being poorly spent. Task forces and other projects overlook basic but vital assets such as people who speak the language and understand the culture of the victims. She also thinks there has been a tendency to focus on trafficking for sex, ignoring large numbers of victims brought into the country to work in such industries as farming.

“Unfortunately, if you’re looking for headlines, sex trafficking sells,” she said.

Lt. Raymond Steiber, who in May became the point man at Metro Police for a $492,000 Justice Department grant on human trafficking, acknowledged that the August 2006 grant had not led to the prosecution of a single trafficker. He also said he did not have information readily available on how many victims the task force had helped.

“We really don’t know if there’s a problem, or how big it is,” Steiber said. But he cautioned that the absence of data should not be read as an indication the problem does not exist.

Steiber said the first year-plus of the grant suffered from a lack of organization, with little understanding about the different roles of policing, social services and immigration law.

Protocols are now in place, with Metro at the helm and other agencies providing support.

The Justice Department also gave $450,000 to the Salvation Army of Clark County in late 2006.

Maj. William Raihl, coordinator of the Salvation Army, said 12 people have been identified as victims of trafficking and are seeking permission to stay in the United States.

“If you look at the number of victims we’ve helped, we’re falling short,” he said. “That’s been the most disappointing thing.”

In 2005 and 2006, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department awarded $150,000 to WestCare, another local nonprofit, to find and help trafficking victims. The plan was to troll streets and massage parlors for women brought from foreign countries by deception or against their will. But social workers at the agency ran across few trafficking victims, instead finding that at least 90 percent of the women had other troubles, such as being underage runaways.

At the time, Metro Police Capt. Terry Lesney said she was “looking for that perfect test case, to set a precedent … like a minor who comes here thinking she’s going to be a star and then she’s forced into prostitution.”

That case never came.

Attorney David Thronson, one of the founders of UNLV’s immigration law clinic, was tapped to provide legal assistance to victims in the Metro-led task force. But in April 2007, when the task force faced its first big test, Thronson found he was left out of the loop.

A two-year federal and local investigation had uncovered a prostitution ring involving seven men and about 25 women, mostly from Asia. The idea was to interview the women, determine where they were from and whether they were brought here by deception or against their will. They were to be advised of the protections available to them under federal law.

But Thronson learned about the case from a newspaper. By the time he contacted Metro and the Salvation Army, most of the women had been let go.

The attorney said the case showed the task force “had a lot of room for improvement.” He hopes Steiber’s efforts to get agencies on the same page will yield better results.

Thronson also wonders whether the lack of results so far reflects a tendency to focus too much on sex. The few trafficking cases he knew of to date mostly involved men and women brought to Las Vegas to work in other areas, including housekeeping.

Thronson said more effort should be made to gain the trust of potential victims, because many have not only been deceived, but also brutalized physically and psychologically.

Raihl, of the Salvation Army, said finding and helping victims has been more difficult than he thought. Obtaining the “T” visa alone takes up to a year, Raihl said, though he was told going into the grant that the process would take less than six months.

Turnover on the task force has made the job even harder, he added. Both Metro and the Salvation Army are on their second director, the person who handles day-to-day work.

Under the terms of its grant, the Salvation Army cannot help victims obtain government services once the federal government determines they have been trafficked into the country. Raihl said he was confused about whom to “hand off” clients to once they reach that point.

The federal government has given about $8.5 million since 2006 for such services to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference contracts with local agencies. But only $9,000 has come into Las Vegas so far, according to Nyssa Mestas, associate director for anti-trafficking in migration and refugee services at the conference.

Mestas said she couldn’t reveal how many victims had been helped with that money, but it was “a very small number.”

“I’m going, ‘Where are the cases?’ I don’t know what’s going on in Vegas,” she said from her Washington office.

Mestas said recently she has been unable to find a Southern Nevada agency to work with.

But, she said, the valley’s task force isn’t the only one to take some time getting off the ground. It’s a problem she attributes to different worldviews of law enforcement and social service providers.

As for the Washington agencies with their hands on the purse strings, the attitude seems to be one of detached patience when it comes to the meager results from Southern Nevada.

Justice Department officials said reports on the local task force’s performance were not available without a Freedom of Information Act request.

Joye Frost, with the department’s office for victims of crime, said both the issue and the task forces need more time. “It’s an emerging issue … and just giving folks money doesn’t mean there’s an expertise,” she said.

Arne Owens, spokesman at Health and Human Services, said “there are no reports that can provide any information on outcomes” from grants to Las Vegas, adding that any money spent helping victims is “wisely spent.”

The Department of Justice grants are set to expire in August.

Thronson noted that if Las Vegas is a target for traffickers, as federal and local officials have claimed, then, “we reach one of two conclusions: Either the numbers are wrong or we’ve reached a crisis and we’re not doing anything to effectively address it.

“The truth is probably somewhere in between.”

This article is a year old but I want people to see how hard Las Vegas is denying their problem with Human Sex Trafficking. As you go into the City now there is a sign asking about human sex trafficking. If you suspect anyone or thing involved in sex trafficking to call the police. So within one year or less I guess the city noticed the problem was bigger than the article written in the paper.


Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 8:13 am  Comments (11)  
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  1. Discussion: 9 comments so far…


    By pmmart
    12/8/08 at 6:59 a.m.
    Suggest removal

    Seems I have been reading of a case in Iowa where a company has been hiring illegal immigrants, charging them 100 dollars [each] per week to share an apt. with 14 other migrants, paying less than state mandated minimum wage and not paying overtime.

    Wouldn’t this at least resemble human trafficing …or does the importance of delivering cheap food to our tables outweigh the methods used in assuring the end results?

    By azsk8fan
    12/8/08 at 2:27 p.m.
    Suggest removal

    No sympathy for illegals who come here knowingly breaking the law – I don’t care if they wind up working for free much less for less than minimum wage – they don’t belong here to begin with so they don’t have a leg to stand on. If they want to come to this country then do it legally and please, learn to speak OUR language.

    By johnevegas
    12/8/08 at 2:50 p.m.
    Suggest removal

    “No sympathy for illegals…”

    Then none for you. No compassion gets no compassion. Enjoy your karma.

    Do you have this feeling for Canadians and Europeans as well? Or is it just brownies who speak the wrong language that you hate?

    By LasVegas2009
    12/8/08 at 4:38 p.m.
    Suggest removal

    Well you are right azsk8fan if they cant respect the laws on the way in then they should not benefit from them once they are here. And it doesnt matter where they come from last I checked 1000’s of asians are showing up illegal each year as well as our neighbors to the south. If you break our laws to come in then you should be punished by them for doing so. If you not a citizen then you have no rights. Try breaking the boarder laws in Peru and you are shot on site. Most country’s have laws that are enforced. All we get is hot air and more illegals each year.

    By azsk8fan
    12/9/08 at 6:22 a.m.
    Suggest removal

    I’m not asking for nor looking for sympathy – I am born and raised here – I speak English – I work every day – in other words I pull my own weight – I don’t break the law, I abide by the rules – and I don’t hire Mexicans to cut my grass, clean my house etc etc etc – I also don’t use the self-check-out lanes at stores, put in place by greedy stores who want to save the price of a cashier by having the customer do the job for free – if you notice the store doesn’t even offer any kind of ‘discount’ for checking out and bagging your own groceries. Karma will take care of my ass because I look out for Americans – I try to do whatever I can do to preserve their jobs, and as for karma maybe those who don’t do all they can to preserve jobs for LEGAL AMERICAN CITIZENS are the ones who should be looking over their shoulder – karma’s not gonna be too kind when it catches up to those people –

    By azsk8fan
    12/9/08 at 6:24 a.m.
    Suggest removal

    Yes, LasVegas – that’s all we get because we have namby-pamby politicians who owe so many ‘favors’ to big business – and who benefits most by all the illegals if not big business. This country needs to toughen up on this whole issue – and yes, it’s not just Mexicans – there are a whole lot of people coming from places besides Mexico – and I feel exactly the same about all of them, regardless of their skin color and regardless of whatever language they’re spouting.

    By johnevegas
    12/9/08 at 6:40 a.m.
    Suggest removal

    “Karma will take care of my ass because I look out for Americans…”

    Huh? Karma does not deal in preferences or borders. It deals with balance and applies universally. Your argument leaves out that these “criminals” you talk about are already running from repression and poverty.

    If you want to improve your Karma, worry about your own compassion or lack thereof. Serving others and having compassion is the best way to do that. Americans are not your only brothers on this planet. Take that inscription on the statue of Liberty seriously. That’s really all you have to do.

    By CJaye
    12/9/08 at 5:46 p.m.
    Suggest removal

    Being one who networks against human sex trafficking and has been involved in the search for Jessica Foster from the beginning practically.I have to say with the undercover work I’ve done The stories these girls have to tell,there is a serious problem. You just aren’t looking in the right places & not looking at the right people.

    “despite the time and money invested, Southern Nevada is no closer to understanding the problem or more important, even proving that there is a problem”.

    Most of the women that are trafficked in & out of Las Vegas are prostitutes. The police are all overworked and can’t stop to look for every prostitute. That’s their mind set. The Government writes papers,takes survey’s,do stats,on all of the prostitution, forced prostitution, and human sex trafficking but they will never have true figures.If this is the # 2 illegal crime in the world now soon it will be #1 over drugs. Drugs can’t be re-sold. Sex can over and over some children up to 30 a day.

    It can be in your backyard your next door neighbor. Jessie Foster is just one of many thousands of adults and children sold every year. People like Peter Todd, Donald Vaz, Trish Van Arsdale,Yvonne Hubrectsen need to be stopped from this awful crime.

    These are some of the people you need to looking at. People like these pimps who sell girls when they are done with them. When the girl becomes too much trouble. Like Jessica she had been arrest for prostitution become too much trouble for Peter Todd. He told me he got stuck with her.

    “if Las Vegas is a target for traffickers, as federal and local officials have claimed,then,we reach one of two conclusions:numbers are wrong or we’ve reached a crisis and we’re not doing anything to effectively address it.
    The truth is probably somewhere in between.”

    Well let me tell you the numbers are wrong and your not doing enough to effectively address it.
    Effectively addressing it is being on the streets and watching this girls. Not as watch dogs but just watching Truck stops, Hotels, Brothels. This is how your going to see forced sex trafficking, sex trafficking rings.

    Do you know there are girls that come back and forth from Mexico sex trafficked. But some are allowed to travel back and forth to recruit. If you just talked to some of the mothers of these trafficked daughters you would learn so much.

    Glendene Grant would blow you mind with the information she has learned in the time Jessica has been missing. ATLAS is working Jessie case as well, another great source if in need of. NCMLO another great source,Frank Mahoney. Alot of sources not enough people to get out and go look!!!

    By CJaye
    2/11/09 at 10:09 a.m.
    Suggest removal

    The bickering is totally out of line here. You guys don’t get the big picture. It’s really not about illegals. IT’S ABOUT HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING!The sell of a human being. You guys sound like children fighting over a to

  2. Please remove my “Welcome To Las Vegas Sign” from this web page You did not seek permission to use this clearly copyrighted image so you are violating US copyright law!

    IF you need further verification that I am actually the web site owner for that image then please go to and click on “Contact Us” to reach me and I will respond back to you from there.

    Fail to respond in a timely manner and I will contact for a copyright violation and they will FORCE you to remove the image. Get too many such complaints and they will delete your account! I’m giving you the chance here to avoid a bad mark upon your record with wordpress. Best to take it. Either way I can guarantee you my image will be removed.

    For what its worth had you of asked permission first, I most likely would have given it in exchange for a link to my web site. Steal from me and I will chase you down.

    I suggest you go read up on Copyright law next time before using another person picture without permission. I could just as easily sue you and easily win!
    Consider this an official notification that you are in violation of US copyright law and are being asked to cease and desist. Evidence has been saved should it be needed.

    Please either delete it or contact me, don’t make me have to go to wordpress, its a pain in the @$$ for us both

  3. comments from Comet

    On Sat, Feb 20, 2010 at 3:13 AM, wrote:

    DO NOT ever threaten me with your crap!! I took your picture down and put another up. In the future stay off my site I can track you too!


    Trust me dick head it wasn’t a threat. With that attitude … you ever fuck with my stuff again and I will sue your sorry ass. Damn I should have reported you to wordpress Actually think i still will. I do have screenshots and all. Go fuck yourself silly bitch.

    Expect to hear from soon! And since your being since a dickhead I won’t even bother telling you something else, but you will find out soon enough. You really fucked yourself this time. I hope you was wearing protection. Last thing the world needs is more assholes like you running around. lmao

    While you may be able to track me its just a crappy ass wordpress subdomain woo weee.

  4. COMET – you know, I can see you getting pissed at CJ for using your LAS VEGAS picture for financial gain, but there is none. Plus there are so many out there that look almost exactly like yours, you should have been honoured she picked yours. Not offended.

    Now, unlike others, I have no knowledge of copyright laws. I do not have a lawyer, I just have a missing daughter, Jessie Foster.

    We are not professional webmasters. We are bloggers or wordpressers or forum writers (I wish I was a webmaster, I get our website handed over in April and I have no clue about web design at all) so we do not have our own photographers and we are not out to hurt anyone and we do not make a red cent off using the pictures we use in our writings or our writings for that matters. We do it to spread awareness about Jessie, other missing people and human trafficking.

    All we are trying to do is make the world aware of my missing daughter, JESSIE FOSTER. She is an international endangered missing woman and the victim of a human trafficking ring. Jessie was kidnapped on March 29, 2006 – nearly 4 years ago.

    CJ did not mean to get so mad, or to get you so mad. CJ is just a huge supporter in the search for my missing daughter, Jessie. We have never met, but we are very close. CJ has won an award for this very blog. CJ is using it to bring awareness to others about Jessie and human trafficking. CJ is trying to help others and is trying to help me and my missing daughter.

    So, I am sure this message will mean less to the ‘business’ side of you than it will to the ‘human’ or ‘parent’ side of you. So, please know this – CJ is also the victim of a crime, and is only there to help. That’s it. HELP OTHERS.

    Take care, take a chill pill and remember – there are worse things than someone ‘stealing’ your picture. Someone stole my daughter. At least your picture was being used for good – my daughter is held captive as a sex slave. Try going to sleep with that on your mind – hell, try going to sleep!

    Sincerely, Jessie’s mom Glendene.
    ADDITIONAL INFO FOR YOU ABOUT JESSIE: My Canadian daughter JESSIE FOSTER is an international endangered missing person and a human trafficking victim.

    There have been thoughts that perhaps Jessie was the victim of the truck driver / highway / serial killer scenarios that the FBI is working on, but there is one huge point that was overlooked when this was discussed: “If Jessie was kidnapped and murdered by a truck driver, where did her belongings go? Jessie had all her things packed because she was planning on coming home to Canada when she mysteriously vanished – all of her belongings went missing with Jessie, except her hairdryer and makeup, which was left in the bathroom of her home. Did the truck driver go to Jessie’s house in North Las Vegas and take her things (not likely)? Or did the actual person who kidnapped her (possibly her ‘fiancé’) Peter Todd, who she was living with at the time of her disappearance) take her PACKED belongings with her…because everything was packed and easy to take – but forgetting she had a few personal belongings in the bathroom?” Jessie has been missing from Las Vegas, NV for almost 4 years (since March 29, 2006) and is most likely a human trafficking victim. There have been many human trafficking task forces and experts who agree and have told me it looks to be a classic case, with the places Jessie was taken to being hubs for human trafficking and things like her phone bills (which I have), most of them were up to 25 pages and $2500 to $3000 each month, another prime sign of what was happening to her.

    Official Website for Missing Jessie Foster –
    Facebook Glendene Grant –
    Facebook MissingJessie Foster –
    MySpace –
    NowPublic –
    Jessie Blog –
    News Articles Blog –
    Newsletter Blog –
    Jessie Forum –
    Twitter ~ Regular –
    TwitPics ~ Pictures –
    YouTube ~ Videos –
    Jessie’s AMW Page –
    ABC NIGHTLINE: Hunting Humans on the Highways:
    Jessie’s Posters in 12 Different Languages:
    ID – Investigative Discovery:

  5. Please remove my private email from this public web page.

    You are exposing my email to spam bots that gather up email addresses to send tons of spam to.

    wtf is up with publishing my email on here? OMH ya’ll are fucking internet clueless

  6. Better yet I just go back and complain to and let them sort this out.

    I’m sure if i have to keep complaining to WP they will get sick of this eventually.

  7. ok you have been reported once again to

    I’m sick of ya’ll wasting my time. From now on i just sue everyone who takes my pictures to pay for my lost time that could be used for more constructive things.

    Fuck all of you clueless dumbasses

  8. Goddamn you motherfuckers. Who gave you permission to post my fucking picture here.
    I’m gonig to go complain on you fuckers again

  9. you stupid fuckers you keep posting copyrighted pictures and wordpress is going to eventually shut you down. You do deserve this you know. STOP Fucking with me die you stupid fuckers. I really wish you would fucking die. You sorry ass pieces of shit

  10. To:
    New comment on your post #2958 “Problem once thought dire hasn’t been confirmed ”
    Author : Tony Goodley (IP: ,
    E-mail :
    URL :
    Whois :
    you stupid fuckers you keep posting copyrighted pictures and wordpress is going to eventually shut you down. You do deserve this you know. STOP Fucking with me die you stupid fuckers. I really wish you would fucking die. You sorry ass pieces of shit

    You can see all comments on this post here:

  11. Flag this message
    [Cjaye57’s Weblog] Please moderate: “Problem once thought dire hasn’t been confirmed ”
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7:49 AM
    This sender is DomainKeys verified
    Add sender to Contacts

    A new comment on the post #2958 “Problem once thought dire hasn’t been confirmed ” is waiting for your approval

    Author :Tony Goodley CJ IS A WHORE WHO NEEDS A GANGBANG (IP: ,
    E-mail :
    URL :
    Whois :
    Complaint filed again with This is becoming harassment at this point. And could be held legally liable if they do nothing. You should have stopped while you was ahead. But no you had to violate my privacy in multiple ways and yes once again post a copyrighted picture. Thats the 3 copyright violation within a week! Do you really expect to keep letting you get away with this. Now I am threatening for negligence. GO FUCKING LOOK THAT UP ON WIKIPEDIA YOU STUPID FUCKERS

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