Police want human traffickers in federal court

Gaithersburg man is first MCPD arrestee convicted by a federal jury

Since the Montgomery County Police Department’s vice intelligence squad was formed in 2005, only one person out of about 150 arrests has been tried in a federal court — Lloyd Mack Royal, III.

Royal, 29, of Gaithersburg, is the poster child for the future of convicted human traffickers, said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. Royal faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of life, he said.

Royal was convicted by a federal jury March 24 of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, sex trafficking by force and possession of a firearm, according to court records. At his June 11 sentencing, rescheduled from April 29, Royal could get 10 years to life for sex trafficking of a minor, 15 years to life for sex trafficking by force and five years for possession of a firearm, according to court records.

Local police agencies often try to get their human trafficking and prostitution cases heard in federal court, Rosenstein said.

“Federal penalties are tougher,” Rosenstein said. “The police want to make sure their suspects get the maximum penalty for their crimes.”

Royal is not the only person county police have tried to have prosecuted in federal court, county police spokesman Sgt. C. Thomas Jordan said Friday. The department’s vice squad has presented several human trafficking cases to federal prosecutors.

County police said they didn’t know how many human trafficking cases they have presented during the years, but Royal is the first successfully prosecuted at the federal level.

Federal prosecutors look for cases involving human trafficking of humans for sex or labor when local police agencies present their cases, Rosenstein said.

Getting more human trafficking cases heard in federal court was a goal of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force when it was created in 2007, Rosenstein said. Since 2007, six people have been convicted in federal court of human trafficking in Maryland, including Royal, said Marcia Murphy, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Most defendants in the cases do not want to draw out the process and prefer to take a lesser sentence for cooperating, Rosenstein said.

“Royal wanted to go to trial whereas others just plead out,” he said.

Rosenstein said he did not understand why Royal wanted to go to trial.

“We try to meet with the defense attorneys, and sometimes the defendant, and lay out all the evidence we have against the defendant,” he said “Sometimes that gets us a plea instead of going to trial.”

Royal opted for a trial instead of pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, sex trafficking by force and possession of a firearm, his attorney Harry Trainor said. Trainor said he will advise Royal on what steps he should take after sentencing.

Royal was arrested and charged with three counts of assault, prostitution and pandering in May 2007, months before the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force was created, according to court records. Royal is accused of giving alcohol and drugs to young girls to get them to have sex for money, according to court records.

“The vice guys present their cases and the feds decide on them,” Jordan said. “They’re looking for the person who is trafficking young girls … when they take a human trafficking case from us.”



U.S. Spends 0.1% of War on Drugs Budget Fighting Human Trafficking

If the budget of the U.S. government is a reflection of our national priorities, then our national priorities are seriously out of whack. That’s because, according to a recent special edition of Larry King Live focused on human trafficking, the U.S. government’s budget to fight trafficking of people is about 0.1% of its budget to fight trafficking of drugs. Does this mean that the government really thinks it’s 1000 times more important to find an ounce of cocaine or marijuana, than a little girl in a brothel, an immigrant being beaten in a field, or a domestic worker enslaved inside a home?

USAID esimates that the government spent around $134 million a year on programs to combat human trafficking between 2001 and 2008. That averages out to about $17 million a year. As far as congressional budgets go, this is chump change. According to the always ticking War on Drugs clock, the government has spent at least $13 billion this year, and spent $19 billion in 2003. And in case you’re wondering, that means the average annual expenditure on anti-trafficking programs is exactly 0.1307% of the estimated expenditure on the war on drug so far this year.

Given the question, I think most people would agree that it is a greater national priority to go after criminals who are enslaving, and in some case killing, innocent people, than those who are bringing in illegal drugs to make some kid’s spring break in Dayton Beach a little more interesting. So why is the financial gap so huge? Is it simply because drug trafficking and abuse is a better documented problem which has had more time to seep into the American psyche? Is it the force of inertia, that keeps multiple agencies on the trail of narcotics while human beings are smuggled across borders and from state to state with impunity? Or is it simply that drugs touch the lives of more voters and taxpayers (who doesn’t have at least one friend or family member who has struggled with addiction) than human trafficking does.


Child Trafficking Are Children Property?

Kids are great. They’re miniature versions of us, with smaller bodies, less-developed minds, and a whole lot less emotional baggage than we grown-ups have. But we decided a long time ago that kids don’t have all the fully autonomous rights that adults do until they reach a certain age.

So what are children before they are adults? Are they people? Are they the property of their parents? Are they something in between, that we don’t have a clear legal category for? While the idea of children as the property of their parents stretches back to the beginning of human history, it’s causing some very modern problems with children being sold into slavery.

The idea of children as property of the family is an old one, and not necessarily nefarious. In agricultural communities, children are an asset to the family farm, able to work it when the family can’t afford hired labor. In large families, older children will take care of the younger ones. And parents have controlled their children’s movements, speech, and general outlook on life for centuries. In fact, one of the major criticisms of modern parenting is that parents don’t treat their children enough like property; when everything is the child’s choice, that can lead to spoiled, self-centered grownups. So how can the idea of children as property be harmful?

As technology and globalization shrink the world, people are increasingly pushing the idea of children as property outside of the family and into the world. Children are being forced into marriage by their families, a concept which only exists if you first think of the child as the property of the parents, able to be controlled and compelled by them. Children are also sold by their families into forced labor, forced prostitution, and domestic servitude. How can you sell what you don’t already own? And the idea of children as property extends beyond families who treat them that way. The trafficker who buys a child from his mother now treats that child as property. And the man who buys sex from a child in a brothel or on the street treats her as an object of his pleasure, not as a human being.


Human Trafficking in Alabama

“It’s just really significant for our state to not be the last for a change.  We do not need to be the last in this one.”

Sunny Slaughter is the Education Chair of Freedom to Thrive, a group dedicated to bringing an end to human trafficking, not just in places as far away as Cambodia, but also here in Alabama.

“Oh yes, we do have human trafficking cases here in Alabama.  We have human trafficking indicators as well,” says Slaughter.

That’s why advocates, such as Slaughter, are pushing to get legislation passed which would increase prosecution of cases, stiffen penalties, and provide protection to victims.

“This is a great way to let traffickers know that Alabama is serious about prosecution.”

Slaughter also emphasizes that law enforcement and citizens need to know what human trafficking looks like.

What’s now called domestic minor sex trafficking used to be called juvenile prostitution.

With only a couple of legislative days left in the session, Slaughter says it’s absolutely ridiculous that matters such as bingo are at the forefront instead of human trafficking.

“Political posturing with bingo may cause the victimization in our state to go unnoticed…and silence the voices of victims living in crisis.”

There are two identical anti-human trafficking bills, HB 432 and SB 372.  Both have passed through committee.  Slaughter encourages you to contact your legislator to ask that the bills be passed by both houses before the session ends next Thursday, April 22.

source: http://www.cbs42.com/content/localnews/story/Human-Trafficking-in-Alabama/YEms6q8IdE6tdLX1Bp6-1A.cspx

Tour Packages Offer Hunting, Fishing, and F*cking Kids for One Low Price

What could be more relaxing than cruising down the Amazon on a boat, fishing rod in hand, bonding with other hunting, fishing, and sports enthusiasts? How about luring a 13-year-old girl onto that boat, giving her cocaine, and then having sex with her? A recent undercover investigation from ABC news has discovered that for some hunting and fishing tours, sex with children is part of the package deal.

At least three young Brazilian girls, 13 and 16, have come forward with allegations of abuse aboard hunting and fishing tour boats filled with American tourists. They were offered jobs cleaning the boats, but when they showed up for work, they were given string bikinis, cocaine, and the order to have sex with the tourists. They were also forced to pose nude for pornography. When the boat left the shore, the girls had nowhere to escape to. You may want to think the tours that abused these girls aren’t be arranged and promoted in the U.S., but they absolutely are.

Wearing hidden cameras, some undercover reporters from ABC News recently entered a convention sponsored by the Dallas Safari Club, which brought together hunting and fishing-themed tour operators from all over the world. The operators were promising what you would expect from such tours — beautiful scenery, luxury accommodations, adventure — but also had some unexpected offerings. Several tour operators promised fantastic parties with beautiful women. But how young can we get those women? the undercover reporters asked. Apparently, pretty young.


Bangladeshi Child Sex Slaves Force-Fed Bovine Steroids to Look Older

Life is getting even more dangerous for the young girls enslaved in the many, massive brothels across Bangladesh, thanks to a disturbing and growing trend: force-feeding child trafficking victims a steroid used to fatten cattle. The long-term side affects of such drugs on humans are largely unknown, but the short-term effects range from dangerous to deadly.

By law in Bangladesh, any woman working in a brothel must be 18 years or older. But in practice, that guideline is practically laughable. For decades, Bangladeshi brothels have been filled with young girls, ranging from pre-pubescents to teens, who have been sold to the brothels are are held there as slaves. Some are sold by family members to work off a family debt, others have no where else to go and become indebted to the brothel for their food and housing. Brothels use so many children because they are cheaper to feed than adults, are less likely to run away, and are more easily financially exploited. But a brothel full of 11-year-olds will draw police attention, even in Bangladesh. What’s a madam to do?

Enter, Oradexon. The Oradexon family of drugs was originally developed by farmers and the livestock industry to force cattle to produce more fleshy tissue that would sell for more money on the market. In Bangladesh, the drug is cheap and widely available. So some bright brothel owner had the idea: if it makes cattle bigger, why not the kids I enslave in my brothel. Could it make them look more like adults?


Haiti: Girls and Women, From 2 to 72 Years Old, Are Being Raped.

By now, people are aware of the earthquake’s toll in Haiti. Two months later, the smell of dead bodies trapped under the rubble still lingers in the air, and food, water, and security barely exist. On top of this devastation is a second natural disaster that followed: girls and women, from 2 to 72 years old, are being raped in their make-shift shelters.

Just as we assisted in the aftermath of the earthquake, we now need to assist in the aftermath of this new devastation. We do this by invigorating a policy already in place, called humanitarian parole, an immigration status that allows the most vulnerable to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, for an urgent, compelling reason such as life-threatening medical need, or to promote a significant public benefit.

Consider Solange, a 16-year-old straight-A student whose dream was to become a nurse. In forty seconds, her life collapsed as her parents and siblings lay under the crumbled blocks of her home. She wandered the streets alone until an elderly man offered to help. He brought two men to rape her.

Solange received no protection, and cannot find food or water. The cement wall that took her family also injured her back, but she cannot receive the urgent surgery in Haiti that is required to fix it.

The earthquake demolished safety networks of family and community. Women are fearful of going to get distributed goods protected by men who demand sex-for-aide. They have lost their husbands in the earthquake, and are forced to become financially independent without the skills or educational background. With children and orphans dependent on them, they are not free to relocate for work.

Sexual predation after societal devastation is not particular to Haiti. We tend not to think of ourselves as forces of nature, but we are. As agents of nature, when people experience acute trauma, some may multiply disaster by forcing their power onto others, out of psychological strain on the moral poise of being idle, angry at losing control, or frustrated with a lack of basic needs and uncertainty about the future. Indonesia had rape and abuse that threatened the physical and psychological safety of women and children in temporary camps after the tsunami. New Orleans endured rapes and sexual violence in the aftermath of Katrina.

Humanitarian parole has been used in the past, for Hungarians escaping communism, Cubans fleeing their country, Indochinese migrants who fled at the end of the Vietnam War, and others from China, Iraq, El Salvador, India, Iran, and Lebanon to name a few. No one disagrees that Haiti is a dire humanitarian crisis right now. As responsible neighbors, we need to act quickly to offer relief to these women and their children who are the future of Haiti.

Secretary Napolitano allowed humanitarian parole for Haitian orphans in the process of adoption, but parole should be extended to Haitians in need of emergency treatments, especially when treatment is only a short few hours away.

Haitian-Americans are weaving into the fabric of American politics and culture. Massachusetts and Florida both have Haitian-American officers in the state legislature. There are eight Haitian-Americans in elected office in South Florida and there is talk about sending a Haitian-American to Congress. New York and New Jersey also have Haitians that are running for state and local offices.

Americans are weathering difficult economic conditions ourselves. Many worry about immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) using publicly funded health-care, taking unskilled jobs away, using public resources like schools, and resisting assimilation.

But countries are becoming more dependent on each other, so it may be useful to build communities with our neighbors. Humanitarian parole would allow Solange admission to the U.S., to contribute economically to our country by finding meaningful work, to obtain health care for her life-threatening medical concerns, and to learn skills to provide a life for herself and help re-build her country.

We can help parole Solange out of the prison of human squalor that she’s wrongly been subjected to, surrounded by death, destruction, and rape. We can offer her humanitarian treatment for her potentially life-threatening medical and psychological suffering.

source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-song/haiti-addressing-atrociti_b_520353.html

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coalition Exposes Modern-Day Slavery in the U.S.

Contrary to popular belief, slavery in the U.S. has not ended.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has created the Modern Slavery Museum to travel around Florida to educate people about the horrific realities of modern-day slavery in the state.

Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation describes the many exhibits that create an interactive experience with the visitor in order to truly make an impact. For example, the majority of the museum is held inside a 24-foot box truck — similar to one used to hold twelve farmworkers captive for two years. Visitiors also see many documents or artifacts, including the bloody shirt of a 17 year old boy who was beaten for stopping to drink water.

CIW staff member Greg Asbed explains that, “when you can see the whole history and evolution of four hundred years of forced labor in Florida’s fields assembled in one place, then all the false assumptions about what drives modern-day slavery just fall away. It’s not workers’ immigration status today, or a few rogue bosses, but the fact that farmworkers have always been Florida’s poorest, most powerless workers. Poverty and powerlessness is the one constant that runs like a thread through all the history. In short, you see, it’s not about who’s on the job today. It’s about the job itself.”

CIW does not stop at awareness — the organization is actively working to end slavery. The Campaign for Fair Food was launched in 2001 to get several fast food chains to make sure its ingredients came from slavery-free farms. Currently the campaign targets major buyers and supermarkets to use their purchasing power to reward fair farms and punish “unfair” farms.

Asbed reveals, “There are no farms that you can say are good across the board yet, that could be certified as ‘fair food.’ The industry has a ways to go before it gets there. But you can encourage better behavior by moving your purchases to follow the best behavior, and you can eliminate the worst abuses by making sure growers will lose business, and maybe even lose the ability to do business, if abuses like slavery happen in their fields.”

CIW also targets the public to mobilize for change. The museum exhibit allows visitors to sign up for the CIW email list and send a postcard to Publix, a major supermarket chain in the southeast. There will also be a Farmworker Freedom March on April 16-18 from Tampa to Publix Corporate Headquarters in Lakeland, Florida.

Visit CIW’s site to learn more about its work and see photos and video of the Modern Slavery Museum by clicking here.

source: http://www.care2.com/causes/human-rights/blog/coalition-exposes-modern-day-slavery-in-the-us/

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 8:06 am  Comments (2)  
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Virginia Attorney General Proposes Re-Legalizing Slavery to Save on Healthcare Costs

In a stunning political move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, leading a coalition of Republican lawmakers and politicians, has proposed the long-awaited GOP health care option: making slavery legal in the U.S. once again. The plan was designed with the goal of saving money in the coming years of “socialized Third Reich Obamacare.” Cucinelli pointed out that if part of the U.S. population only counted as three-fifths of a person like in 1850, they would only need a portion of the medical care provided by a government bloated on the tax dollars of real Americans. Thus, “Slavery 2010: Part Deux” as the proposal is affectionately called, would save American taxpayers billions.

When asked if he would suggest legally enslaving all African-Americans as per historical practice, Cucinelli affirmed that African-American people were very important to the Republican party and would certainly not be enslaved under his new plan. He instead suggested enslaving those who have proved themselves most detrimental to the health of America. This would include, of course, gays, undocumented immigrants, professors at liberal arts colleges in the Northeast, all women who ever visited a Planned Parenthood clinic, and anyone who has ever criticized Sarah Palin on their personal blog. Under Slavery 2010, he explained from his Richmond mansion, your candidacy for enslavement won’t be based on the color of your skin, but on how well you’ve demonstrated your love for America. Colin Powell, for example, will remain free. But Barbra Streisand, Michael Moore, and anyone who bought arugula in the past two years will be sold at auction to the highest bidder. Unlike historical slavery, this version would be a meritocracy, where merit can be purchased via campaign contributions to the GOP.

As the Slavery 2010 proposal gains ground support, more and more Republican members of Congress are beginning to see it as a viable economic solution to issues other than just health care. Slave children don’t get to go to school, creating smaller class sizes for the few free children who won’t be home schooled. Re-instituting slavery would also be a big job creator, as millions of out-of-work “real Americans” could be hired to weigh, price, and process the likes of Rahm Emanuel and Barney Frank. Slavery would even solve America’s problems abroad, providing cheap, front line soldiers for Iraq and Afghanistan who aren’t entitled to any of those pesky “veterans benefits.”


Price of Human Beings Reaches Historic Low

With more and more Americans struggling to afford basics like food, housing, and health care, one globally-traded commodity is more affordable today that it’s ever been before. Unfortunately, that commodity is human beings. And it’s no coincidence that the price of a slave has significantly dropped as the price of food, medicine, and housing has increased.

At a recent panel lecture in Boston, abolitionist scholar Zoe Trodd stated that the average price of a slave in 2010 is about $40. That’s compared to the cost of a slave in 1840, which in today’s dollars would have been between $30,000 and $50,00 — as much as a brand new luxury car. Even just ten years ago, experts estimated that the global average for buying a human being was closer to $100 or $200. And, now, it’s cheaper in many parts of the world to buy a human being than it is to buy an iPod shuffle.

It’s not happenstance that the price of a slave has dropped during a global recession, nor that such a drop has coincided with more expensive food, housing, and other basic necessities in many parts of the world, including the U.S. Slavery, like other industries, follows the economic law of supply and demand. The supply of potential slaves grows when the number of people vulnerable to slavery because of desperate social or economic circumstances grows. When, during a recession like the one we are in, increased numbers of people become homeless, hungry, and otherwise in desperate need of money, the supply of potential slaves grows, driving down the price.