Sex Trafficking Bust

It was hell on earth just a few feet away from well kept homes and legitimate businesses. Young women and girls locked away in rooms above cantina forced to have sex with strangers.

“They were hiding in plain sight.” Says Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

Cell phone video captured the opening phases of the raid.. The task force alleges that pimps trafficked in the women from Mexico. The girls and young women were rented out for fifteen minute intervals. They were beaten if they failed to satisfy and then after the place closed.. they were taken to other places to have sex until dawn. Three of the businesses occupied one building.. Ironically one has a sign reading “not minors” in Spanish. Another one, Las Palmas., was right down Telephone road.

It was all under the control of a the family’s 66 year old matriarch named Hortencia Medeles Arguello. nicknamed Tencha. Most of the people indicted are related. The fourteen people indicted face a variety of charges, from prostitution to money laundering.. A family member who was not indicted says they are innocent.

“These are hardworking people. they are innocent. they go to church. they just have the wrong information and wrong people.” Says Maine Arroyo Rodriguez.

Attorney Todd Dupont might represent some of the indicted.. he says because they are related the state could have a rough time of it.

“History tells us that it’s very uncommon but it happens that family is going to want to cooperate against other family members.”

Over the course of the two and a half year investigation they rescued twelve women, five of them under fifteen. The task force knows there are more victims out there and they want to hear from them.. They say the victims don’t have to fear deportation.. They’d also like to hear about one of the accused pimps. .a Mexican national named Alfonso Diaz-Juarez.. He is on the run but has a reward on his head… But as sad as this story is.. it gets worse.. here’s why.. Those on the front likes of the human trafficking problem think the fight is far from over.

“Unfortunately I’m not sure we made a huge dent. Like the sheriff alluded to there are other businesses out there doing this and there are other victims out there. This is one case. This is one investigation.” Said Special Agent In Charge Stephen Morris with the FBI.

Thursday night’s raid netted twenty-two women. The task force doesn’t’ know yet ifd they are part of the conspiracy, are innocent employees, or more victims.

Published in: on October 16, 2013 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Three girls arrested in local sex trade sweep

Three girls were arrested on charges of prostitution during a four-day roundup of those involved in the sex trade industry in the valley, Las Vegas police said Thursday.

Sgt. Gil Shannon with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Vice Section said the sweep, which took place June 19-22, was intended to rescue children caught in the sex trade.

“Even one is successful when you’re taking children off streets who are engaging in prostitution,” Shannon said.

In addition, 61 adult prostitutes and five pimps were arrested locally during the sweep, dubbed “Operation Cross Country.”

Shannon wouldn’t disclose where the three girls were taken, saying only, “We have them in a safe location.”

He also wouldn’t specify the girls’ ages other than to say they were younger than 18.

Shannon said the arrests made only a small dent in the local prostitution market. He estimated that thousands of prostitutes work throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

Shannon said 37 agents with the FBI and Las Vegas police collaborated to make the local arrests.

Nationally, 345 people, including 290 adult prostitutes, were arrested in the sweep in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and other cities.

In Reno, agents arrested 13 adults.




this is an older post


Prostitution – The World’s Oldest Profession

Prostitution – the world’s oldest profession . . . and the only profession to allow its workers to be KIDNAPPED &/or KILLED by Glendene Grant
 I read an article online the other day about prostitution and cracking down harder on organized crime, specifically drugs and prostitution, and it got me thinking.
When it comes to prostitution, people generally think that the women . . . the prostitutes are the problem. THEY ARE NOT! They are the pawns.
D*E*M*A*N*D gets a reaction ~ it brings forth a S*U*P*P*L*Y
If you remove the demand for sex from prostitutes, then there won’t be a bunch of pimps (and human traffickers) beating and forcing woman into it.
I mean, really and truly – tell me how it is that a woman, ANY WOMAN would CHOOSE to stand on the streets and get into a STRANGER’S car, or being sent to a hotel room with a person you DO NOT KNOW, over being safe at home or at a job where she won’t possibly be raped or beaten to death?
If (or should I say, when) a prostitute gets arrested and then released in the morning – they are going back to the pimp to get beat and forced to work harder, because they actually had the NERVE TO GET ARRESTED!!! The pimp seriously feel as if their prostitute owes them the amount of money they DID NOT earn while behind bars.
And of course, the police become part of the problem when they do not recognize the women as victims. Police need to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking. So do all front-line workers. People who are with all the different organizations that work with victims; the media; and citizens alike, all need training to spot the signs of human trafficking. Because there are signs . . . lots of them.
YES, I KNOW – (“blah, blah, blah” – that’s all the people that say “NOT ALL WOMEN ARE FORCED“)!!!! I agree, there are some women who do choose this occupation, but in comparison to those who don’t – they are few and far between.
However, I don’t call a woman who is prostituting herself to feed a drug habit as CHOOSING THIS LIFE, she is choosing to feed her drug habit and that is much different.
I am sure, given a chance, they would get off the drugs and the streets. Something, somewhere lead these women to the streets and to the drugs . . . whether it was from something that happened in their childhood home; in school; or something as an adult (such as rape or date rape or some other crime, unsolved or solved); or an abusive husband. Whatever it was, something made them say, “I want to use heroin . . . pass the crack pipe . . . where’s the crystal meth, I want to pick my face apart“.
As a woman who was a little girl who played with her Barbie toys, I know for a fact there was no HOOKER Barbie, or DRUGGIE Barbie and not one of my friends ever said, “I want to live on the streets or be beaten & raped every day when I grow up!” As a matter of fact, I am sure there are no little boys who wanted to grow up and be a pimp or kidnap women. Something happens to them, or something goes wrong in this person’s life for them to end up this way.
No one asks to be born, and no one deserves to be neglected, abused or worse at anytime during their lives. We are all human and we are all equal in our rights. IT IS TOO BAD THAT SOME PEOPLE DON’T AGREE AND ACCEPT THAT.
I am not trying to say that prostitution needs to be abolished. I am not against it at all. I do believe that if it was treated like an ‘occupation’, ensuring those working are safe from all harm, and of course taxed like all other income, then it very likely could work in our society. Sorry to all you who think I am (hmmm, I can’t even think of the word), I am not. I am just trying to think realistically.
Think back to part of my title: THE WORLD’S OLDEST PROFESSION. Obviously prostitution is not going away. So why not make is safe for those CHOOSING it as a job? Why not allow them to not EVER risk being raped and/or murdered?
Also, there are times when it PREVENTS rape. Sex will never GO OUT OF STYLE, it can’t. Sex is not just something to do, it is a biological need, and sometimes paying a prostitute for it is the only way some people ever have sex. And, if not for prostitution, some of those people would take it by force from someone else.
Most people probably would think I would be completely against prostitution in all shapes and forms, after all, my daughter JESSIE FOSTER has been an international endangered missing person for four and a half years, and she is the victim of human trafficking.
Jessie was lured to the USA from her home in Canada and was forced to work for an escort agency in Las Vegas.
When Jessie went missing we hired a private investigator who found proof that Jessie was beaten and hospitalized. He also found out that she was also arrested twice. Once for one count of solicitation for the purpose of prostitution and once for four counts of solicitation for the purpose of prostitution. Jessie was either trying to get arrested in hopes of being sent back to Canada, or she was the dumbest prostitute in Las Vegas.
Jessie had already been to court for the first charge, she got a fine and it was paid for her right away. The second court date was set for several months after Jessie disappearance. As a matter of fact, when the bail bonds company had their bounty hunter search for Jessie, he found a missing person’s poster, got my number from it and called me. They wanted to pull a ‘DOG the BOUNTY HUNTER’ with her. In other words, they wanted to find her and bring her back so they did not loose the money they put up for her bail. I told him I would be happy if found Jessie and took her to jail. It would have been better than any other place that she would be in.
That bounty hunter told me that when a certain date came and the bail bonds company lost their money to the courts, he would be able to help me find Jessie without it being a conflict of interest, and he did. Unfortunately, even though we communicated for a long time, he was not able to find my daughter.
I have got this type of offers of help from many, many people since Jessie has been missing.
We know that when Jessie tried to leave the situation she had found herself in since May 2005, when she tried to come back home, she was kidnapped. Or killed.
We don’t truly know what happened to Jessie on the night of March 29, 2006, but we do know something happened. What we do know is that Jessie has not been seen or heard from since then, and we know that Jessie did not choose to stop contact. She is either not allowed to because of conditions and/or threats or she is not able to because she is not alive.
Since Jessie has been missing we have all been through a lot, but the hardest things is to continue living life so it is fair to our family. There are many young members of our family and they need . . . they deserve to have a chance at life. Jessie has 3 sisters, 2 stepsisters, a mom & stepdad and a dad & stepmom. She has 2 step-nephews and 2 step-nieces, with 2 more on the way. And since she has been missing, Jessie’s two younger sisters have both become mommies, giving her 2 nieces and 1 nephew.

Sex trafficking traps Portland teens

An effective strategy effort must be marshaled to address the problem

This being Portland, if you spotlight a shocking problem, like the sexual trafficking of teenagers, and don’t allow the community to look away, eventually you’ll galvanize people. Portlanders will shed their “can’t happen here” mentality and rally round.

But once you have their attention, the question turns to harnessing their energy. We don’t just need a lot of people upset about trafficking of young people. We need an effective strategy to combat the problem.

This is an important question for Police Chief Mike Reese to answer. We got to thinking about this last week, after Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., went on a ride-along with the Portland police. There’s been a lot of publicity of late about how Portland may be one of the top-ranked cities in the nation for underage prostitution. And Wyden, in a sense, was standing in for the rest of the community on a recent weekend, when he took a look for himself.

To be sure, Wyden has been working on the issue for months. He’s pushing legislation to help Portland and other cities provide safe houses for prostitutes, where they can be separated from their pimps. Yet even though the senator was well aware of the problem, the ride-along came as a shock.

It’s one thing to see photos of 13-, 14- and 15-year-old girls on X-rated websites. Or to hear how Portland police are encountering these girls, all dolled-up and walking on 82nd Avenue late at night.

It’s another thing to see a 15-year-old at 11 p.m, looking for customers. The girl Wyden saw had a regulation kit of sorts — a butcher knife, three condoms and a cell phone. As The Oregonian’s Allan Brettman reported last week, text messages on the phone linked the girl to someone believed to be her pimp.

“If there is even one youngster … out there like that 15-year-old girl I saw last night,” Wyden said, afterwards, “we’ve got to reach (her).”

Once young girls develop a bond with a pimp, however, it’s difficult to retrieve them. A police officer swooping in can make a difference, but only if he or she has the legal authority to help the girl and a safe place to lodge her, away from her pimp. Getting her to testify against him is another battle. If the girl is just returned “home” (often to foster care), she is almost certain to return to prostitution.

Strengthening state laws that allow young people to be taken into protective custody would help, says Sgt. Mike Geiger, in charge of the bureau’s sex crimes unit. Support services, counseling and housing are also needed.

Thus, nonprofits involved with runaways, deputy district attorneys, legislators, the FBI, Multnomah County, the state Department of Human Services, the Portland Police Bureau and other police agencies — all have an important role to play in extricating young girls from sex traffickers. That’s why so many agencies are getting involved. Yet, ultimately, someone needs to take charge. Otherwise, the community’s energy could be wasted.

Geiger, by the way, isn’t sure that Portland is the No. 2 city in the country for teenage sexual trafficking, as has been claimed. “I’m not even sure that’s the issue,” he says. “Whether we’re No. 1 or No. 4 or No. 15, the question is: Do we have a problem? And the answer is that we absolutely do.”

By working with the state Department of Human Services, Geiger’s unit has identified 105 girls in the area, ages 12 to 17, who are likely involved in trafficking or at risk of it. (Once a girl has run away three or four times, she is very vulnerable.) The problem is serious, but solving it is not beyond our power.

As long as we don’t look away.


Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 6:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Human trafficking victim graduates high school as valedictorian

On a chilly, rainy April night on Hudson Street, Rosita Curry was ready to give up. She had no money or food, no place to go. Her left leg had gone numb from the cold.

On the streets for seven years, Curry, just 19, was tired of having to sell her body, being abused by pimps, feeding her insatiable need for drugs, sleeping in a cardboard box instead of a bed.

“I don’t want to die out here!” she recalls thinking. “God, won’t you please give me just one person that will stick with me?”

It seems that God was listening.

Just 15 months after that night of despair, Curry found herself walking across a stage at Columbus State Community College, dressed in a spotless white graduation cap and gown with a bright yellow sash that proudly told the world that the girl from the streets who nobody wanted was valedictorian of her high-school class.

Lynn Kee, Curry’s probation officer for several years, was in the audience at the June 13 graduation, tears of joy rolling down her cheeks.

“Her turnaround was about as dramatic as you get,” said Kee, now retired. “This is the first real success in her life. It shows that even under the worst of circumstances, you can excel.”

Just a year ago, Curry was one of several young women profiled in a Dispatch package about human sex and labor trafficking, a festering problem in Ohio that is no longer confined to foreign countries.

Curry’s story began when she was 13 and wandered E. Main Street looking for the two brothers she hadn’t seen since their parents died several years earlier.

Eventually, the fragile teenager was taken in by an older man who clothed, fed and cared for her. However, he soon sold her to a pimp who began prostituting her.

Nearly seven years later, on that rainy April night in 2009 when she cried out to God, Curry was arrested and charged with offering oral sex to an undercover police officer for $20.

At her lowest point, lost and bewildered in the Franklin County Jail on Jackson Pike, the “one person” Curry prayed for showed up.

Marlene Carson, the founder of Rahab’s Hideaway, a small local shelter for human-trafficking victims, had been asked to visit Curry by both Kee and the Columbus police officer who arrested her.

“Oh, she was a mess,” Carson said. “I saw somebody that had been very abused and very neglected. It was looking in a mirror from my own younger days.”

“I just started crying,” Curry said. “I felt like she was an angel.”

Carson gave Curry a place to live, helped get her in drug rehabilitation and encouraged her interest in enrolling in Youth Build Columbus Community School, 1183 Essex Ave. The school is a place for troubled youth dropouts ages 17 to 21.

Curry buckled down to study for the first time in her life. She found math hard but English easier. She did well in all her classes, focusing on nursing-assistant training. Toward the end of the school year, she was surprised to hear her grades had earned her the honor of valedictorian in her small graduating class of 15 students.

“They surprised me,” she said. “I didn’t even know what a valedictorian was.”

Curry is considering going to college, or taking more training as a nurse or a cosmetologist.

While she’s come a long way in 15 months, some of the street still clings to Curry. She doesn’t like crowded rooms because she said you always have to “watch your back.” Sometimes, while watching television, something will jog a suppressed memory and she will blurt out a sad story from her past.

But Curry plans to move forward, not backward.

“I already know how to do bad,” she said. “Now, I want to learn how to do good.”

For more information about Rehab’s Hideaway, visit:




Beaten and sold

Small-town women were lured into sex slavery by their neighbors, four smooth-talking men led by a soldier who promised fun times in the big city.

Robert Harris II
Robert Harris II

Jacob Tyler

Jacob Tyler

Richard Johnson II

Ross County Sheriff
Richard Johnson II

The conspiracy to enslave and sell women for sex began at the Matchbox, a hard-edged tavern wedged against the railroad tracks along S. Washington Street in Circleville.

Army Spc. Craig Allen Corey II was on leave back home in Chillicothe. Over beers at the Circleville bar, he talked to a pair of childhood buddies about his plan to pad his soldier’s wages. And there would be good money in it for them, too.

Corey had been a customer of illicit massage services advertised on the Internet, and he proposed to do the same out of his apartment more than 300 miles away in Millersville, Md., near his post as a supply specialist at Fort Meade. With some risque photos of the offerings and some explicit erotic-services listings on craigslist, Corey calculated he could pocket $150,000 a year on top of his drug-dealing income.

That night in late 2008 in Circleville marked the origin of Corey as “Pimp C.” His drinking mates – Jacob Tyler and Robert “Little Rob” Harris II – would act as enforcers to keep the women and johns in line while he played Army. The men added another hometown friend and drug dealer – Richard “Little Richy”Johnson II – to the operation and set out to stock their brothel.

The young men did most of their shopping for women – both willing and not – on the turf where they already peddled drugs: Chillicothe.

Human trafficking, mostly associated with big cities, suddenly had come to small-city Appalachia, about 45 miles south of Columbus. Corey and his gang would travel regularly from Maryland to Chillicothe to obtain and sell drugs and, as he told an acquaintance, “recruit some bitches.”

Corey also used MySpace, YouTube and Web ads to recruit a few women from Virginia, and he imported a woman from Watertown, N.Y., where he once was stationed at Fort Drum. But most of the women – and a 16-year-old girl – came from Chillicothe and surrounding Ross County.

“I don’t think any area is immune,” said William Winter, special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which built a case against the men that sent them to prison for a combined 57 years. “A lot of the women had not traveled much and were low on the socio-economic scale. They were ripe to be exploited by someone with strong personalities like these guys.

“They would recruit these women by saying … ‘Come to the big city of Baltimore and bring your friends. Come party with us,’ basically. ‘We have a lot of money,'” Winter said.

Nearly nude photos of the women soon were posted on craigslist, with rates of up to $200 an hour “for modeling, role-playing, sensual body rub, personal assistance and private dancing.” A disclaimer added: “I do not offer illegal or immoral services.”

The operation was short-lived, spanning January to April 2009, before it was busted after “Holly” – a 28-year-old Chillicothe woman – accepted $100 for her services from an undercover cop.

But during those four months, beatings, threats and drugs underlined the coercion and control in play in Millersville, an unincorporated area of populous Anne Arundel County south of Baltimore.

The women, who numbered at least 12 over the weeks, were plied with free drugs of their choice to keep working and, once their addictions were rooted, forced to pay for their fixes by handing over their share of earnings.

Women who balked at serving sex customers or attempted to withhold cash paid by the johns would be beaten and threatened with more violence. Tyler and Harris had guns and were not shy about flashing them.

Harris threatened a customer with a gun at one point, and he and Tyler talked of shooting a particularly troublesome woman.

The 16-year-old was ferried from Chillicothe by Corey and his fiancee under the pretext of partying. Then, she was forced to have sex with three men who had responded to an Internet ad from “Vanilla.” She arrived only a few days before the operation was busted.

With little money, no transportation and total reliance on their captors for food and shelter, the women had nowhere to turn.

With thousands of dollars a week coming in, the guys from Chillicothe were living large, buying electronics, clothes, jewelry and car accessories. Harris added gold teeth.

The first sign of what was unfolding in the middle-class apartment complex along Millwright Court in Millersville came in the first month.

A 19-year-old woman called her parents in January, saying her car had been disabled and she couldn’t leave. Her parents recruited police to retrieve her. Tyler had beaten her, but she refused to tell police what had happened.

It wasn’t long before the craigslist ads – offering “companionship” at the price of $80 for 15 minutes – caught the attention of Anne Arundel County authorities. On April 24, 2009, an undercover officer bought a quick date with “Holly.”

Police also found the 16-year-old, drugs and a gun in the apartment. “Holly” was charged with prostitution. Corey was charged with human trafficking. Johnson and an 18-year-old woman from Chillicothe were charged with drug possession.

Because a minor child had been imported across state lines for prostitution, local police turned the case over to ICE, and federal agents visited Chillicothe to help build their case and track down and interview the women who had returned home.

On Sept. 29, the men were arrested on a multitude of federal charges that included sex trafficking by force, sex trafficking of a minor, interstate transportation for prostitution, drug trafficking and conspiracy.

Even after Corey was busted, he continued dealing drugs, traveling to Detroit to buy drugs that were then sold on the streets in both Maryland and Chillicothe. He also sold to an undercover officer.

Of the four sex traffickers, the ringleader perhaps was the most unlikely suspect. Corey had only minor scrapes with the law in Chillicothe and had graduated from high school in 2005. He seemingly had a good Army record, with the exception of getting a female solider pregnant and then denying he was the father. He was discharged after his arrest.

Tyler has had more than 30 misdemeanor arrests in Chillicothe and had done prison time for theft and receiving stolen property. He still has a case pending against him in an armed home-invasion robbery in Chillicothe on March 22, 2009.

Johnson’s criminal record was small-time, but he had become a proficient drug dealer. He bought crack, powdered cocaine and heroin from suppliers in Columbus and from Corey’s supplier in Detroit.

Harris is a castaway from a shattered Columbus home. In 1994, when Harris was 6, his mother died from a stray bullet fired by a gunman outside a Near East Side bar. He was raised by a relative in Chillicothe, where he dropped out of high school and began dealing drugs.

“We had no idea they were running as a group,” said Chillicothe Police Chief Roger Moore. “We knew they all were troubled youths. We had looked at them all over time for drug trafficking. … This has been shocking to the community.”

Recently, in a small house on Mulberry Street in Chillicothe, 17-month-old Robert C. Harris IV scampered around his grandmother’s toy-strewn living room, finally selecting a black-and-white police car as the moment’s plaything.

The littlest Harris last saw his father at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on April 28 this year. Even then, they were not allowed to touch.

With all but Tyler facing the possibility of life in prison, the men signed plea arrangements. Corey, 23, will serve 171/2 years. Tyler, 23, and Harris, 21, each received 15-year terms. Johnson, 23, was sentenced to 10 years.

“Robbie will be 13 before his dad is ever out of prison,” said Tabitha White, 20, the child’s mother and the elder Harris’ fiancee. “I don’t think what he did deserved 15 years. I’m not saying he’s innocent, but 15 years?”

White described Corey as a “cocky and arrogant” type who easily recruited Harris into his scheme.

“Robbie’s a follower,” added Tabitha’s mother, Teresa White. “He’d do anything for you.”

Teresa White, whom Harris calls “mom,” doesn’t buy that the women exported to Maryland were held against their will.

“There’s prostitution everywhere. It was all blown out of proportion,” she said.

“All those boys had been friends for years. I told Robbie he needed to start dealing with himself and warned him to stay away from those guys. They were trouble.”

Information for this story came from court and police documents and interviews with local and federal officials, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who investigated the case.


Sexual Exploitation of Children in San Diego County

“Castro let hundreds of women slip through his radar. He’s the first to admit that he was completely ignorant about human trafficking.” Castro told the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who was nearly beaten to death by Tomلs Salazar-Juarez, one of the brothers running the prostitution ring in Vista. “She was brutally beaten for attempting to escape a life of forced prostitution,”

The sixteen-year-old told the deputies that Salazar forced her into a room and duct-taped her hands and feet. Salazar then grabbed a wire clothes hanger from a closet, wrapped it tightly around his hand and forced the other young girls to watch him beat her for two hours. “She was bruised so bad that it looked like she had been cut with a filet knife. He then told the rest of the girls ‘this is what will happen to anyone else that tries to escape,’” said Castro.

Neighbors called the police thinking that it was a domestic violence situation. Unfortunately, Salazar got away before the deputies arrived at the crime scene.

The deputies took a report and pictures of the sixteen-year-old girl. This report was a major milestone for the Sheriff’s Office because it was the first time that any of the so-called prostitutes alleged abuse from their pimps. “This girl’s testimony later inspired other young women to come forward,” said Castro.

However, Castro still didn’t understand what he was up against. He still believed that he was helping to rid the city of prostitution. He remembers arriving at the station one morning. A deputy responded to what he believed was a domestic violence call the night before. He asked him to take a look at his report.” Castro read that it involved a fifteen-year-old Hispanic girl that was being housed at the Polinsky Children’s Center. He then rushed to Polinsky.

The young girl told me everything that happened to her.

She was a victim of something that Castro knew was ugly—he just didn’t know what to call it. This fifteen-year-old girl, whose baby was kidnapped prior to crossing the border, and used as security to force her to sell her body to up to thirty men per day for nearly six months, helped him realize that the same tragedy that was forced upon her, was being forced upon the rest of the women too.

“This young girl, Reina, helped Castro connect the dots”. “She helped him put all of the missing pieces together. After that interview, he knew that we were looking at some form of sex slavery.”

Reina is just one out of the tens of thousands of girls around the world that are trafficked. Although difficult to fathom, Reina is actually one of the fortunate ones since she was able to escape the terror of her captors. After nearly six months of continual rapes and beatings, she gathered the courage to run for her life.

Realizing that she may never see her baby again, she fled from her captors the minute she saw a window of opportunity. She stood half-naked and crying at the doorsteps of nearby neighbors. The neighbors called the police and the deputies transported her to Polinsky where Castro reached out to her.


One million teens in the U.S. are involved in prostitution each year.

Everyday over 1.4 million teens are homeless or runaways and vulnerable to sexual exploitation

Each year 5,000 teens will lose their lives on the streets due to assault, rape, suicide and illness

Up to 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk of falling prey to the sex trade each year

A child is propositioned for sex within the first 72 hours that she/he is on the streets

At any given time there are up to 2000 homeless and runaway children in San Diego County


For educational purposes only

Teen Sold as Sex Slave on Craigslist

Experts say 100,000 children in the U.S. are sold for sex every day.

According to Congressional estimates, every day in our country 100,000 children are being sold for sex. Enterprising pimps prey on young girls, and turn them into sex slaves.

But it was at a neighborhood Safeway store in northern California where the sex slave problem became a terrible reality for one family. In 2008 Vicki Zito’s daughter was abducted there, then forced into unthinkable acts.

Vicki’s daughter was a 17-year old high school senior at the time, but developmentally disabled. She had asked her mom if she could go down to the store with a friend.

“And so we said yeah, okay, go grab a soda,” Vicki recalls. “How innocent is that? And it’s the one decision that I’ll regret for the rest of my life,” Vicki says, tears welling up in her eyes.

Vicki’s daughter was abducted by a man who sold her for sex by posting ads for ‘erotic services’ on the web site Craigslist. She was enslaved for seven days in motels around the Bay Area.

At home, Vicki prayed. “Once the sun went down it was unbearable,” Vicki says, sobbing quietly. “I’m sorry, but it was. It was horrible. I would just stand at the window, watching, waiting, wanting so badly for her to come home.”

After a week, Vicki got a late-night call from authorities. “They told me they’d found my daughter. And that she was alive. And in that brief moment of , ‘Oh my god my daughter’s alive, she’s okay,’ it was followed with ‘But I’m sorry to tell you… Are you sitting down?'”

Authorities told Vicki that her daughter had been sold for sex, over and over again.

“It was more than I could bear,” Vicki says. “That’s when I learned about sex trafficking, what it was, and what it meant that my daughter had been enduring for the past seven days.”

Ultimately her abductor, 25 year-old Rishi Sanwal, was arrested and convicted. He’s serving a 12 year sentence for sex trafficking.

About Sanwal, Zito says, “I don’t waste a lot of time on him. Do I believe in hell? Yes I believe in hell. Do I hope some day he burns in it? That’s harsh…but yes. Because he can do his time in prison, but he’ll never be able to undo what he did to my daughter.”

Vicki also has a few choice words for Craigslist, the web site that posted Sanwal’s ads for ‘erotic services.’

“Pull the plug. Now. Pull the plug,” Zito says. “Do you have to have the erotic section of your web site to be profitable? Or in order to stay in business? Because if that’s what it takes for you to stay in business? You shouldn’t be in business.”

Zito thinks some major changes need to be made regarding online postings. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that you have a spot on your web site where somebody can go, and at the click of a button, buy another human being for sex.”

The Zito family’s story has come to the attention of California Against Slavery, a non-profit group actively lobbying to strengthen anti-sex slave laws in California. Its executive director Daphne Fung says the Zitos’ family tragedy serves as a cautionary tale.

“The Zitos’ story shows that no child is safe from human trafficking, that it can happen to any of us,” Fung says. “Vicki is a caring mom, her daughter comes from a caring family, and it happened to them,” Fung points out. “No child is safe from human trafficking.”

And according to Fung, the problem is getting worse across the country. “Now, they’re going down in age from 18, 16, 14, now we have girls started being recruited as prostitutes at the age of 11, 12 13.”

As a result, today Vicki Zito is on a mission to speak out so that no other family will have to endure the horror that her family, and her daughter, have faced.

“The reason I speak out is that 95 percent of the girls that are victims of this crime, exactly like my daughter was, have no home, no mom, no family, nobody that’s looking for them,” Zito says.

“If just one other life is spared, if just one other life is able to heal and recover and move on from this, then all of my efforts will be worth it.”

For more about the efforts of California Against Slavery to strengthen California’s anti-human trafficking laws, and its signature-gathering petition efforts for a statewide ballot initiative, go to


Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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What ‘Pimpin’ Means And Why It Caused A Celebrity Twitter Feud

There’s been a lot of media coverage in the last week of the Twitter ‘feud’ between Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian. Yet, the glaring omission from all the articles, blogs and commentary is any real analysis of Demi’s point — that we glamorize and glorify pimp culture, use terminology that seems to legitimize the practice, and in doing so, ignore the fact that pimps are modern-day slave-owners.

I’m the founder and executive director of GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, the nation’s largest service provider to girls and young women who’ve been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked. Every day, I witness the impact that pimps have on the lives of girls in this country. Girls are left with physical and psychological scars from the brutal tactics of adult men who prey upon some of the most vulnerable children in our society and then sell them for profit over and over again.

Demi, and her husband, Ashton, have met some of the girls GEMS serves, heard their horrific stories about being under pimp control and have taken action. They launched the DNA Foundation with the goal of ending child sex trafficking both in the U.S. and abroad and recently, donated a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to support GEMS services for survivors of domestic trafficking. Both Demi and Ashton have been raising the alarm about the epidemic of child sex trafficking that’s happening right here in the U.S. to American girls for over a year now, and yet it’s an exchange with Kim Kardashian that has garnered the most attention.

Kim Kardashian, like most people in this country, is probably totally unaware of the harsh reality of pimping and thinks of it in the context of a Jay-Z song, a 50 Cent video, an Oscar-winning song and movie, or a caricature from the 1970s. I’m sure if Kim knew the real stories, tears and scars behind the glorified images of pimps, she’d think differently about the language she used. I’d encourage her and anyone else who uses ‘pimpin’ as a verb to watch our Showtime documentary ‘Very Young Girls’ to learn the truth about pimp culture.

Ultimately though, this issue isn’t about Kim or Demi. It’s about the girls and young women whose lives are systematically destroyed by pimps and traffickers. It’s about changing our societal acceptance of pimps and ‘pimpin’ and calling it what it really is: trafficking and slaveholding. Over 100,000 children in this country are exploited through the commercial sex industry each year and the median age of entry into the sex industry is estimated to be between 12 and 14 years old. If those facts haven’t been enough to start a national dialogue about domestic trafficking of girls in the U.S., perhaps a Twitter exchange between two celebrities will be.


Houston man in federal court, charged with sex trafficking a minor

A Houston man is the first person in the Southern District of Texas to be charged in federal court with sex trafficking of a minor,’s Jeff McShan reported.

Barry Davis, who was arrested in July by a federal task force, is on trial in a Houston court.

It’s a problem that has become an epidemic around the country.

“American teenagers are being forced into sex trafficking on a daily basis and it’s not about the money in those situations,” said Maria Trujillo with Houston Rescue and Restore. “These are just young girls looking for love, attention, and affection.”

Trujillo says the teenagers are manipulated by so-called “pimps” who force them to work as prostitutes.

“In these horrible situations where they’re turning tricks 10-to-15 Johns a night,” she said.

In Federal Court Tuesday 11 News learned that Davis allegedly met a 16-year-old high school student in Pasadena after she got off her school bus.  Prosecutors say she decided to run away with him.

Davis allegedly took the girl and two others from Texas to New Jersey, New York, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington D.C., coercing them into having sex with strangers.

An FBI agent testified that Davis used the Web site to advertise their services. It was his way to make money.

Evidence presented in court Tuesday included photographs of his girls and a chalice known to be carried by pimps.

Davis went by the name Sir Lewis and it was engraved into the chalice.

The 16-year-old girl involved in this case is being treated as a victim.

In fact, the task force, which includes the Houston Police Department, says that in the last five years it has rescued more than 100 girls from lives of prostitution.

“Houston is a hub for human trafficking in the United States and we really need to bring awareness to the community about this issue if we ever want to bring an end to modern day slavery,” Trujillo said.

If convicted, Davis could spend the rest of his life in prison.