Human Trafficking Awareness Week in full swing

Modern day slavery exists … even in Missouri. The University of Missouri is hoping to increase awareness of the problem this week.

Stop Traffic is one of the groups hosting several events throughout the week at the University of Missouri to educate the public about labor trafficking and sex trafficking.

Movie screenings, free-trade fairs, lectures and more are happening on campus throughout the week.

Organizer Shannon Montanez says both are in Missouri, but in two different markets. While Missouri’s metro cities — St. Louis and Kansas City — are bringing in those who are victims of sex trafficking, rural areas often utilize cheap labor on farms and in factories.

Shopping from major retail stores that also take advantage of carrying products resulting from cheap labor is another way people inadvertantly support human trafficking.

Montanez says people shouldn’t solicit sex from the erotica section on Craigslist, a hotbed of illegal trafficking activity, or buy items from large retail corporations, which could be buying from labor shops where people are underpaid, under-fed and overworked.

The International Labor Organization estimates nearly 2.5 million people have been victims of human trafficking over the past ten years.

The U-S Department of Justice estimates 50 percent of victims of human trafficking are children.

The U-S Department of State estimates that 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls. While the majority of them are exploited for sex, some of them are also illegally imported for the labor market.

For a schedule of events or more information, visit


Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lucy Liu and Others Advocate Against Trafficking Sex, Domestic Workers

Angie and Melissa, both in their teens, were about to perform their duties as “truck-stop girls” one night. In addition to having sex with the driver, they were supposed to steal money from him.

Washington, D.C. – infoZine – Scripps Howard Foundation Wire – Melissa found pictures of her client’s grandchildren in his wallet.

The man could have been their grandfather. Fighting back tears and disgust as she recalls the events, Angie says to the camera, “I wanted to die.”

This is a scene from the documentary on human trafficking, “Not My Life,” directed by Robert Bilheimer, which was part of a discussion on human trafficking sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development on Wednesday at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Although “Not My Life” illustrates many instances of human trafficking across the globe, Angie’s case took place in the United States.

“I think people will be shocked to find this is happening in America, I don’t think they can comprehend it because it won’t make any sense,” said Lucy Liu, actress and UNICEF ambassador. “You don’t recognize that it is that there is a channel between poverty, trafficking and people will always take advantage of children when they can,” said the actress, who also works with MTV on its End Exploitation and Trafficking campaign and is the executive producer of another documentary, “Red Light.”

The daylong symposium looked at the causes and effects of human trafficking and solutions. About 250 guests from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector discussed partnerships for preventing and ending human trafficking.

In a speech, Liu noted that 80,000 young women are sexually violated every day. Struggling with her words as she held back tears, Liu called trafficking the “cannibalization of the planet’s youth.”

According to government figures, approximately 800,000 persons are trafficked across borders every year. In the U.S., it’s the largest trade category after drugs. In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act took effect, leading U.S. agencies start new programs to help in the fight against global trafficking.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $528 million on anti-trafficking activities worldwide and USAID alone has provided $123 million to more than 70 countries for anti-trafficking programs.

Speakers at the event discussed the causes and forms of trafficking, which include domestic work and guest worker programs.

“Trafficking goes beyond sex work,” said Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, president of Visayan Forum Foundation. “Forced labor is all around us, we just don’t see it.”

Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson Companies, said partnerships among organizations is essential to end global trafficking. She said her company is the only travel group that is part of ECPAT International, which stands for End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.

While she championed the State Department’s research on sex trafficking, Carlson Nelson said it was missing one component.

“The three Ps of prevent, protect and prosecute should also include partnership,” Carlson Nelson said. “We are dealing with a universal moral issue, and inaction in the face of this grave issue is unacceptable.”

Diep Vuong, program director of Pacific Links, a foundation that works to prevent sex trafficking of young girls on the border of Vietnam and Cambodia, spoke about prevention and reintegration.

“We target girls who are more vulnerable to traffickers and those that are most likely to drop out,” Vuong said. “We give these girls a chance to gain economic self sufficiency.”

Carol O’Laughlin, vice president of Winrock International, a global non-profit organization, discussed reintegration of victims from Moldova through vocational education.

“We prepare them for the real world by training them in skills development and job attainment,” said O’Laughlin, adding that her organization could use more support from USAID.

Liu said that people can do a lot to fight trafficking, simply by doing research and volunteering.

“There are so many ways to participate if you want – monetarily and financially – and once you do, you can start spreading the word on your own and its kind of amazing what you can learn and you can make a difference,” she said.


Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A means to an end

sex trafficking
Girls and women are kept in steel cages in dark back alley slums until eager men are escorted in, pick one out and then give money to have sex with them on tattered cots.

This is reality for over 55,000 young women in Cambodia that are trapped in sexual slavery. It is estimated that 35 percent of those girls are younger than 16 years old.

Vintage On Campus, a student Christian group, is trying to end sex trafficking in Cambodia. They are teaming with Agape International Missions, which has a station in Asia where sex trafficking is most prevalent.

On Sept. 16, VOC held an event in the Student Union to raise awareness and money to help stop human sex trafficking in Cambodia. Members of VOC also rocked on a giant seesaw for one-hour timeslots.

“The seesaw was mainly to catch people’s eyes and have them come over,” said Jay Perillo, VOC’s campus minister. “But we also wanted to get the message across that we were ‘tipping the scales of injustice.’”

Many students milled around the event last Wednesday, where there were plenty of brochures, pamphlets and literature to read about the event. VOC also offered Web sites, like Agape International Mission’s Web site,, where people can make donations.

VOC also supplied orange bracelets, claiming that orange is the color of freedom. The group encouraged students to wear the color to show that they are a part of finding an end to sex trafficking.

“We need to do whatever we can to stop human trafficking,” Perillo said.

Along with the money raised by the VOC members and their sponsors, Perillo estimates that donations brought in over $1,000. All of the proceeds will go directly to AIM’s site to help rescue young girls who are sex slaves.

According to Perillo, AIM helps those who are enslaved by pulling them out of the alleys, educating them, and giving them food, shelter and safety in its Restoration Center in Cambodia. The program also provides therapy and spiritual guidance to the traumatized victims.

“[AIM] is a great organization and we want to help them in whatever way we can,” Perillo said.

According to its Web site, AIM has helped thousands of people and has opened over 600 churches in Cambodia since its inception in 1988 in California.

AIM also provides financial support, disaster relief, medical supplies and personnel.

The VOC is relatively new to UB. It was started in the spring 2009 semester. Dave Ashby, a UB alumnus and head of the set-up and teardown team, hopes that the VOC will make a difference with the sex trafficking in Cambodia.

“The VOC would like to eventually expand and do mission trips and raise more money,” Ashby said.

Ashby raised money and sat on the seesaw for an hour with a fellow member of the VOC.

“I wish I could have raised more, but I’m glad that I was able to help,” he said.

VOC would like to put together more events to help end sex trafficking not only in Cambodia, but also all over the world.

“I hope that VOC will expand over the next few years so that we can have more support on campus and so that we can raise more money for all the people that we want to help,” Ashby said.


Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Shared Hope: Repairing the damage of nation’s sex trafficking

Linda Smith
For more than a decade, Linda Smith’s Shared Hope International organization has rescued thousands of women and children around the world from the sordid world of prostitution. But the discovery of the extent of the sexual exploitation of teen and preteen girls in the United States almost made her walk away.

“I was shocked and then thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do this. They look too much like my granddaughters,’ ” Smith said Tuesday. “It’s too hard, but yet, it’s helped me see how others might see it. I was having a hard time believing it, and I was seeing it.”

In 2006, Shared Hope International received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to research the sex trafficking of American children. Investigation was made in 10 targeted locations — Dallas; San Antonio, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; Salt Lake City; Buffalo, N.Y.; New Orleans, Independence, Mo.; Las Vegas, Clearwater, Fla.; and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory.

A private grant allowed further investigation in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Smith presented the results, “The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children,” to Congress in July. She also wrote a book, “Renting Lacy,” which was published last month.

Shared Hope’s investigation revealed there are at least 100,000 American children being sexually exploited by pimps and traffickers and the “johns” who pay for them. The average “recruitment” age for the girls is 12 to 13 years of age.

“By the time we got done, between undercover footage and interviews, we pretty well had the nation,” Smith said. “What we found is I can go to craigslist or a strip club or an adult shop anywhere and find a minor for sex. There’s no town, I don’t care where; if there’s buyers, there’s sellers. Pornography is driving the sex train for younger and younger girls.”

Shared Hope’s national report found that too often, the trafficked children were treated more like criminals than victims.

Pimps and traffickers, while grooming their girls for sexual acts, teach them to lie about their identity, their age and information about who they work for if the police pick them up for prostitution, Smith said.

“These girls have so little trust because nearly every adult in their lives has been untrustworthy, and her pimp tells her that if she gets picked up by law enforcement then she will go to jail. And that is often what happens” Smith says in the report. “So, as far as this child sees it, the only adult who has told her the truth is the pimp.”

But those arrests and rap sheets also are making it easier for organizations like Shared Hope to identify the children to possibly get them away from their traffickers, Smith said.

“That’s how we figure out where they are,” she said. “In Las Vegas, we were able to pull up records and find out where the kids came from. There were three from Vancouver and at least one from Longview they had brought down there. And most likely these girls had been moved all around the country at one time or another.”

Smith said traffickers look for girls they identify as being vulnerable, either luring them with flattery, buying them presents or outright kidnapping them. About half are in the foster care system and have fallen through the cracks, Smith said.

“If no one is looking for them, they’re going to stay in the system,” she said. “One girl finally was able to get to a phone, then she realized she had no one to call.”

While federal law says a minor can’t be charged with prostitution, state laws aren’t quite so clear, Smith said.

“We didn’t know it was here until about five or six years ago. Now that I’ve done the research, we’re taking a look at key states, looking at everything we can to make it work,” she said. “Once communities know, they’ll take action. They’re taking it serious and looking at the law. We found the most common thing was we go ahead when we realize what is in front of us.”

Smith to speak at CAP dinner

Linda Smith, former Republican congresswoman and founder of Shared hope International, will be the guest speaker for the “One Person Can Make A Difference” dinner and celebration, sponsored by Lower Columbia CAP. Smith will speak about her new book, “Renting Lacy” and the national report she presented to Congress on sexual exploitation of children in the United States.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Red Lion Hotel in Kelso. Cost is $50 per person, which includes dinner. Tickets are available online at or at the CAP office, 1526 Commerce Ave., Longview. All proceeds go to the CAP Foundation.

Learn more

To learn more about Shared Hope International’s work as well as the report on the sex trafficking of children in the United States, go to


Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Changing Lives “Half the Sky”

An ancient Chinese proverb goes that women hold up half the sky. Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn want that to be appreciated — on the ground. In the opening pages of this gripping call to conscience, the husband-and-wife team come out swinging: “Gendercide,” the daily slaughter of girls in the developing world, steals more lives in any given decade “than all the genocides of the 20th century.” No wonder Kristof and WuDunn, whose coverage of China for The New York Times won them a Pulitzer Prize, declare the global struggle for women’s equality “the paramount moral challenge” of our era.

Their stories in “Half the Sky” bear witness to that bold claim. Kristof and WuDunn describe Dalit women, Indian untouchables, who swarmed, stabbed and emasculated a serial torturer and murderer — in a courtroom. Further north, Mukhtar Mai, the victim of a Pakistani gang-rape, did the unthinkable for a Muslim village woman. Not only did she expose her assailants, but she incurred the wrath of her country’s president, Pervez Musharraf, endured abduction by his henchmen, started a school and even made an ally of her resentful older brother.

“Half the Sky” tackles atrocities and indignities from sex trafficking to maternal mortality, from obstetric fistulas to acid attacks, and absorbing the fusillade of horrors can feel like an assault of its own. But the poignant portraits of survivors humanize the issues, divulging facts that moral outrage might otherwise eclipse.

Men, for example, aren’t always the culprits. “In Meena’s brothel,” Kristof and WuDunn report of an Indian girl forced into prostitution, “the tyrant was the family matriarch, Ainul Bibi. Sometimes Ainul would beat the girls herself, and sometimes she would delegate the task to her daughter-in-law or to her sons.” The narratives respect nuance, revealing both the range of barriers and the possibility for solutions.

Throughout, Kristof and WuDunn show faith in the capacity of ordinary citizens, including Americans, to initiate change — gutsy at a time when many Westerners who voice concern are ritually accused of interfering. Mingling tales of woe with testimonials to people power, the authors explain how tragedy can spawn opportunity. Their hope: “To recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women.”

Little-known Westerners — doctors, teachers and students — serve as role models. Harper McConnell is a University of Minnesota graduate. Fresh out of college, she broke up with her boyfriend and entered the dating desert of Congo to oversee her church’s relationship with a hospital for women. “At the age of 23, Harper became the principal of her own school,” Kristof and WuDunn write about this young American who “jabbers away in Swahili.”

But “Half the Sky” prescribes some tough medicine: To be effective on behalf of invisible women overseas, Americans must “bridge the God Gulf.” That is, secular humanists will have to forge common cause with religious believers, emulating an era “when liberal deists and conservative evangelicals joined forces to overthrow slavery.”

Kristof and WuDunn repeatedly invoke the abolitionist project. Besides stirring emotions, the antislavery lens permits Americans to see an urgent obligation. When the West cares as much about sex slavery as it does about pirated DVDs, India “will dispatch people to the borders to stop traffickers,” they predict. “We single out the West because, even though we’re peripheral to the slavery, our action is necessary to overcome a horrific evil.” As proof, they detail how American diplomats and Congress spurred the Cambodian police to crack down on brothel owners. “Simply asking questions put the issue on the agenda.”

So it comes as a disappointment when Kristof and WuDunn seem to cut short their own questions. They entitle one of their chapters “Is Islam Misogynistic?” Their answer: Because ultraconservative Saudi Arabia has outlawed slaves, the Koran must be open to progressive interpretations on other human rights issues, like women’s equality.

The trouble is, laws ring hollow if they’re not enforced, something Kristof and WuDunn robustly recognize about female genital mutilation in Africa. Why not acknowledge the same about Saudi Arabia’s often appalling treatment of female domestic workers, whose condition Human Rights Watch has deemed ­“slavery-like”? Could their silence be traced to the “scolding” that Kristof received from a group of Muslim women in Riyadh?

One of them insists to him that Saudi Arabia’s ban on female drivers, and the related effects of a profoundly patriarchal culture, “are our problems, not yours.” Kristof doesn’t appear to question her. Yet later, he and WuDunn link “the boom in Muslim terrorists” to “the broader marginalization of women,” recalling that the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers cited a teaching about well-endowed virgins awaiting male martyrs in heaven.

Clearly, a connection can be drawn between global security and certain cultural customs in the Middle East. In that case, Muslim women’s problems are everyone’s problems. Despite all their reminders of our interdependence as humans, Kristof and WuDunn miss an excellent chance to help fellow progressives build backbone.

Perhaps a different encounter should be arranged for the two authors — with a Muslim woman in Sweden who hides immigrant Arab girls threatened by honor killings. She told me that many Western feminists condemn her because, she believes, they care more about looking tolerant than about saving lives. In confronting the failings of multiculturalism, secularists could move forward with evangelicals, as abolitionists did almost 200 years ago. Imagine the potential for progress.


Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)  
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Sex Trafficking Worldwide

sex trade
Tanya was a regular kid. Just like any other 12-year-old in your neighborhood. Smart, taking classes for talented and gifted children.

Tanya’s “sin:” she walked home from school every day. One day a young man pulled his car over and said she was very pretty. He seemed sincere and had a genuine smile. He met her everyday and began giving her small tokens of his affection, just a small gift here and there. He was making an investment. Six months after their first meeting, Tanya agreed to get into his car, and her life changed forever.

After beating her physically to establish his “ownership” of her, the man revealed his true intentions and became her pimp. He prostituted her out to over 100 men per month for over five years. She was arrested 17 times in almost as many states.

Finally, a police officer took notice of her situation and rescued her. Tanya’s story is the story of thousands of girls walking the streets of suburbia today (

This is slavery, and it’s happening in your backyard.

Imagine you are too poor to feed your daughter. A man comes from two towns over telling you about a job cleaning a nice family’s house. The family promises to take care of your daughter with three meals a day and take her to the doctor if she gets sick. You send her away.

When you hear nothing from her, you get worried, as any parent would. You go into the town only to find there is no family. The man has taken your innocent daughter to another country.

You search for her and find her selling her body on a street corner across the border. She has been forced to take drugs until she is addicted and now sells herself as a way to keep up the addiction. This is slavery, and it is happening in Asia.

The word “slavery” doesn’t appear much in the news today, but “human trafficking” does. “Slave owners” are now “human traffickers.” These slave traders don’t use wooden shipschildren not for sale or muskets, but they are certainly as ruthless and evil as the slave traders of old.

What is human trafficking? The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons defines it as “the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a person for profit.”

This definition does not limit itself to moving someone across a town, state, or country. A young girl can be trafficked in her own home or neighborhood. In fact, many immigrant women and children working in a job they voluntarily accepted find themselves trafficked by the employer holding their papers. They can’t leave for fear of imprisonment for being an illegal alien.

How does trafficking happen?

Human trafficking is the result of poverty and vulnerability. Across the world in times of crisis, children are seen as either a financial burden or source of income in many cultures.

Seventeen-year-old Ma Suu was from a poor family in Myanmar, a small country between India and Thailand. She paid a transporter to help her cross the border in 2001. The same person found her a job as a domestic worker in Thailand. In July of 2002 she was accused of stealing. After refusing to confess to a crime she did not commit, her “owners” severely beat her, set her on fire, and left her for dead in a ditch.

Someone found her charred body and transported her to a nearby hospital where she stayed alive only long enough to tell her story. Her “employers,” a Thai air force officer, his wife, and an unnamed accomplice, were not charged until 2004. They were able to put off trial until March of 2007. The officer was convicted of murder, and the wife was given five years for hiring an illegal immigrant (

In most cases, the abusers of immigrants can get away with murder because governments often turn a blind eye to trafficking. Even the U.S. government is, at times, guilty. This only serves to make the problem more widespread.

In northern Uganda, human trafficking wears a different mask. Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), raids villages at night to kidnap children. Children go into towns to sleep at bus depots or under houses for protection from LRA soldiers. It is futile.

A few people stand guard over the children, but LRA soldiers sneak in, taking children without detection. Once abducted, these children, some as young as six, are forced to fight, murder, and mutilate their own people, or they are forced to watch others killed until they are desensitized and brainwashed. Forcing a child to commit murder shows what will happen should he attempt an escape.

Some of these children are afraid to go home because they have been LRA soldiers for so long and feel responsible for hurting so many. They fear repercussions from their own village upon returning. Some have a fear their people will not welcome them; but the greater fear is that the children will be judged, banished, rejected, or tracked down by the LRA.

How widespread is human trafficking?

According to World Vision, estimates of worldwide trafficking range from 12 million to 30 million. The numbers grow everyday.
World Globe
It is widely accepted by all who study human trafficking that there are more slaves today than there were during the three centuries of TransAtlantic slave trade combined. Of today’s slaves, it is believed that approximately 50 percent are children under the age of 18.

There are probably 800,000 people trafficked across international borders each year. That number is a fraction of those trafficked within borders.

While women and girls make up the majority of slaves, boys and men form a third of the number. Unfortunately, boys and men rarely speak up because they are too ashamed of their forced homosexual prostitution, they are worked to death before they have the chance to speak up, or they are killed in battle.

What is being done?

Many ministries and organizations are engaged in this war. Some focus on education. Through World Vision sponsorship, families learn that their children are not property to be sold. They also learn that the child, at a reasonable age, can earn income for the family and make more revenue than a one-time sale to a trafficker.

World Vision recently ended a campaign using commercials, billboards, and posters in countries where human trafficking is rampant. Outside an international airport in Phnom Penh, Vietnam, an area of high child-sex trafficking, was a billboard with a picture of a man behind bars. The caption read, “Abuse a child in this country; go to jail in yours.”

Another billboard had a black and white photo of a child, and superimposed on the picture was, “I am not a tourist attraction.”

Others use the weapons of policy and prosecution. In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which aims to make the U.S. a leader in stopping and prosecuting traffickers. It also makes abusing a child in any country illegal for any citizen of the U.S. The TVPA produces an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (

Invisible Children, a secular organization working in northern Uganda, petitions people to demonstrate and demand the U.S. government get more involved, thus using policy and demonstrations to raise public awareness.

Invisible Children uses donations and items made by war-stricken and impoverished people to provide much needed income for Ugandan victims of war.

Shared Hope International (SHI) goes after those who seek out prostituted trafficking victims, especially prostituted children, through the Demand program.

The Demand program offers a 45-minute video showing the nature of sex trafficking, including graphic sexual material and nudity. A 16-minute condensed version contains no graphic material and is appropriate for churches and youth groups.
poor children
Linda Smith, president of SHI, said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, “If you’ll go all over the U.S., you’ll find that most cities [have many underage prostitute arrests and no adult arrests]. They are arresting the trafficked victims.”

What can we do?

Perhaps the most important action anyone can take is pray. Pray for people who are at high risk for being trafficked. Pray for those who are guilty of owning people. Pray for those who create the demand.

Stop pretending that this is someone else’s problem. Every slave is a soul. We have stared at victims, and rather than hearing their cries for help, we turn the channel, turn the page, or simply turn off their voices. Stop turning. Start embracing.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked who is the neighbor of the “man who fell among the robbers? The expert of the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37)

What are we waiting for?

Fighting the good fight

▶ World Vision has been known for years to help children and families fight human trafficking. The Christian group offers a program that asks for $20 a month to sponsor a single child. That money is used to rescue or prevent the trafficking of your sponsored child. That child will be given food, clothing, and an education. He will also know that someone in America cares for him (

▶ Shared Hope International leads a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery through education and public awareness. The secular group offers six steps on how the individual can take action. The steps are to know your enemy, identify trafficking and spread the word, allow your money to follow your heart, take the pledge, become a defender, sign a petition and inform your legislators, and most importantly, pray (

▶ A secular organization, Invisible Children, was started by three young men who went to northern Uganda and made a movie. The graphic film is not family friendly, but it shows the true nature of what children go through.

The group offers the opportunity to support a mentor for children, a teacher, or even a school. It also urges people to be active in getting legislation passed that will help fight Joseph Kony and his LRA (


Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 8:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sex with 3 orphans costs Andrew Mogilyansky 8 years

Andrew_MogilyanskyA wealthy Russian-American businessman who traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, in December 2003 and in January 2004 to have sex with three underage orphan girls was sentenced yesterday to eight years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin also ordered that Andrew Mogilyansky, 39, of Richboro, Bucks County, spend 15 years on supervised release when his prison term is completed and that he register as a sex offender. She also fined him $12,500 and ordered him to pay $15,000 to his victims.

Mogilyansky, a car exporter and owner of a company that distributes fire-extinguishing equipment, said he had made a “disastrous decision” to go to Russia and have sex with the girls, two of whom were 13 and the other 14.

He said that it was “by far the worst thing” he had ever done and that “no words can express my sorrow” for the victims.

McLaughlin said Mogilyansky was truly remorseful but had committed a “grave criminal act.”

“[The victims’] lives will be different because they were harmed by Mr. Mogilyansky,” she said.

“Wealthy Americans who think they can shortcut child-sex laws by traveling overseas need to take note of this sentence,” U.S. Attorney Michael Levy said.

Federal authorities have prosecuted more than 50 sex-tourism cases since passage of a law in 2003 that makes it a crime to travel overseas to have sex with underage children.

Mogilyansky, a father of three, has been in federal custody since his bail was revoked after his arrest last December. He pleaded guilty in April to traveling overseas for the purpose of engaging in illicit sex and engaging in illegal sex.

The feds and Mogilyansky agreed as part of his plea to a prison term of 78 to 97 months, within the sentencing range.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan-Kelly argued for a 97-month sentence, noting that Mogilyansky had “devastated” the lives of his victims and had robbed them of their dignity. (One of the victims said in a letter to the court that her encounter with Mogilyansky had been her first sexual experience.)

Morgan-Kelly said Mogilyansky thought that Russia was a “free zone” for his illicit sexual encounters and that he would not be caught by the authorities.

Defense attorney John J. McMahon Jr., who argued for a 78-month sentence, said Mogilyansky’s criminal behavior was an “aberration in an otherwise remarkable life.”

Mogilyansky’s wife said he was a caring father and husband. A psychologist hired by the defense said Mogilyansky was not a sexual predator or pedophile.

A friend testified yesterday how Mogilyansky had founded a now-dormant charity that raised $1.2 million to help survivors of the bloody 2004 school-hostage crisis in the Russian province of North Ossetia and arranged for some of the injured children to come to the U.S. for medical care.

That charitable work caused McLaughlin to wonder how Mogilyansky could harm children.

Authorities alleged in an indictment unsealed last December that Mogilyansky had conspired with a Russian national, Andrei Tarasov, and three others to create a prostitution business in Russia known as “Berenika” that advertised women and girls for sex and that Mogilyansky was an investor in the business, charges he did not admit to in his plea.

An investigation begun by Russian authorities in 2004 led to the convictions of Tarasov and the three others on child-sex trafficking charges in 2005.

Federal agents also arrested Natalya Goretska, described by prosecutors in court papers as “a close associate” of Mogilyansky’s who was involved in Berenika.

Goretska, a Ukraine national, pleaded guilty in April to lying to immigration authorities about her involvement in prostitution and was sentenced to 21 months by U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel in July.


Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking of a Child

Kansas City, MO -Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to the attempted commercial sex trafficking of a child.

This conviction is the result of Operation Guardian Angel, a unique undercover law enforcement investigation targeting the demand for child prostitutes in the Kansas City metro area. As a result of this investigation, a total of seven defendants were indicted in the nation’s first-ever federal prosecution of the alleged customers of child prostitution under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Steven C. Albers, 40, of Kansas City-North, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan this afternoon to the charge contained in a March 10, 2009, federal indictment.

During the weekend of March 5 to 7, 2009, the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, led by the Independence Police Department, conducted a sting operation targeting local customers who solicit pimps to engage in commercial sex acts with children. The “children” were advertised online at Craig’s List. No real children were actually involved in the sting.

At approximately 9:33 a.m. on March 5, 2009, Albers responded via e-mail to an ad that advertised “little girls available.” The ad’s content clearly advertised the children for sex. Albers requested a lunch hour meeting so that he would have time to drive from his office near the Country Club Plaza. The undercover officer responded that he had an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl available for sex. In a follow-up e-mail, Albers said he wanted to spend an hour with an 11-year-old girl at a cost of $100. In an e-mail later that morning, Albers said he wanted to spend half an hour with the 11-year-old girl but would pay an extra $20 to go “bareback,” referring to sexual intercourse without a condom, for a total price of $80.

When Albers arrived at the undercover house for the meeting at approximately noon, he provided the cash to the undercover officer and the arrest team came out from the bedroom. Albers took off running out the front door. The arrest team chased him out the front door and caught him in the neighbor’s front yard, placing him under arrest at that time.

Albers also admitted that he had responded earlier to the undercover advertisements that were part of Operation Guardian Angel on three separate occasions in January and February, in which he also tried to arrange a meeting to pay for sexual activity with the child being sold as a prostitute by her pimp.

By pleading guilty today, Albers also agreed to forfeit his 2002 Volkswagen Jetta, which was used to commit the offense.

Under federal statutes, Albers is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.


Women the new pimps in human sex trafficking trade

Pimp___WomanWOMEN are emerging as the pimps of the global trade in humans with a third of countries reporting more female traffickers than male, a United Nations study shows.

The first international report into the scope of human trafficking, published yesterday, found a disproportionate number of female perpetrators, more than in any other crime, selling other women into slavery in countries including Australia.

With demand for cheap goods and services rising with the fall of the world economy, experts fear labour exploitation will grow.

Sex slavery accounts for 79 per cent of all human trafficking, most victims being women and girls, says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Report On Trafficking In Persons.

It used data from 155 countries to establish patterns in trafficking and what individual nations were doing to fight it.

The office’s executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, was alarmed by cases in which victims went on to become ringleaders in the trade. “We need to understand the psychological, financial and coercive reasons why women recruit other women into slavery,” he said.

After sex, the second most common trade was in forced labour. These victims were harder to identify than sex slaves, whose work was highly visible and concentrated in cities and along major roads, the report said. By contrast, forced labourers worked in mines, factories and in private homes as domestic slaves.

“Their numbers will surely swell as the economic crisis deepens the pool of potential victims,” Mr Costa said.

The view was echoed by Jennifer Burn, the director of the Anti-Slavery Project at the University of Technology, Sydney. She said Australia’s visa system was open to exploitation. “We have a visa system built around the idea that we have a skills shortage,” Professor Burn said.

Trafficked people could arrive as students and temporary skilled workers, and more sophisticated methods of protecting and detecting these people were needed, she said. Increased public awareness of modern-day slavery was necessary to snuff out the demand for it, she said. Instances of trafficking were under-reported, and often victims did not identify as such.

“They know they’ve been held in an exploitative and harsh work environment, but they don’t put that into the legal definition of trafficking,” Professor Burn said. Most reported cases were of women from Thailand, South Korea and China, she said.

In Australia, the UN report found eight people were convicted from the 34 charged with trafficking-related offences in the five years to 2008. According to the Department of Immigration, 17 trafficking victims had been granted three-year temporary witness protection visas. To date, none have qualified for a permanent version of that visa. No trafficked children had been detected since 2003, the department said.

Yesterday the Federal Government proposed new obligations for employers of temporary skilled overseas workers on 457 visas. These included market pay rates and co-operation with inspectors.


81 Web Sites Busted for Alleged Sex Trafficking

The Korea Communications Commission said yesterday that it caught 81 Web sites that brokered and induced sex trafficking.

The commission ordered the deletion of harmful information and denial of service for Web users who uploaded such materials in a crackdown conducted Aug. 19-26.

The Web sites caught allegedly used secret language implying sex trafficking, and presented men and women’s sexual images while promoting bars and entertainment establishments.

The commission ordered 37 (46 percent) of the 81 sites to deny service to illicit users, and instructed Internet service providers to block access by domestic users to 25 (31 percent) that provide illegal Korean-language content from overseas.

Nineteen Web sites were also ordered to delete problematic information.


Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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