Tag Archives: Gangs

DHS Blue Campaign: ICE Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for enforcing a wide range of crimes related to border security, including conducting domestic and international investigations on human trafficking, child sex tourism, and forced child labor. Continue reading

29 charged with sex trafficking juveniles

Imagine being stripped of everything you know, transported between states and forced to have sex with strangers. No, this isn’t a nightmare; these are details from a recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation. Four girls – some younger than 14 years old – were forced into a life of prostitution by a Somali-run Human Trafficking Organization. Continue reading

Child Trafficking Rings Kidnapping Haitian Kids from Hospitals

by Amanda Kloer

UNICEF has confirmed that at least 15 Haitian children have vanished from areas hospitals in the days since the earthquake, and they suspect those children — and more — are falling victim to child trafficking rings.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, thousands of children are separated from their families, with many not knowing whether their parents and guardians are still alive. And while humanitarian organizations can confirm children who go missing from hospitals and group homes, huge numbers of children remain on the streets, unaccounted for, just waiting to be picked up by traffickers.

A number of child protection organizations have come together to ask would-be parents not to apply to adopt Haitian children. Since the earthquake, the number of adoption applications for Haitian children has soared from 10 per month to 150 in a three day period. One U.S. adoption agency claimed it has already received over 1000 applications for children from Haiti. Child advocacy groups are concerned, however, that a bump in adoptions of Haitian children will only encourage child traffickers to abduct children and pass them off as orphans, hoping to make a tidy profit from their sale. While Western families trying to adopt Haitian children likely mean well, they may encourage child trafficking within the country. If you are considering adopting a Haitian child, please consider donating instead to a child protection organization working in Haiti.

But the children disappearing from hospitals may be on the road to a more sinister fate than life in the U.S. in a loving and stable home. Before the earthquake, Haitian children under 15 made up 45 percent of the population. With such a large number of poor youth, may children found themselves victims of sexual exploitation, forced domestic servitude, and forced labor. And as the chaos subsides and international aid moves out, the number of children victimized by traffickers will only increase. If the Haitian economy is too broken to support demand for maids or commercial sex, the children will likely be shipped to the Dominican Republic or other nearby countries, including the U.S.

Haiti is not a unique situation; human trafficking usually increases after natural disasters. In 2004, in the wake of the massive tsunami which struck Asia, thousands of children were left vulnerable. Human trafficking in that region saw a significant upswing. And the next major natural disaster will be the same. But for now, you can help the children of Haiti by supporting the organizations linked to above and not requesting to adopt a Haitian child right now.

Photo credit: Matt Drigdenberg

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Human Trafficking is Al-Qaeda’s New Business Model

Human Trafficking and Terrorism? Sure it fits.

by Amanda Kloer

Terrorism is an expensive business, what with the cost of bomb-making supplies, training videos, and the constant recruitment of new suicide bombers. And Islamist terror-funders have the same recession issues as the rest of us. So to fill some financial gaps, Al-Qaeda has embraced a new business model which generates income from trafficking drugs and human beings. Law enforcement agencies have long agreed that one of the best strategies to fight Al-Qaeda is to cut off their cash and starve them out. And now, that strategy includes fighting human trafficking.

Human and drug trafficking has occasionally been suspected as a funding mechanism for terror, but has thus far been addressed primarily on a case-by-case basis. But more concrete confirmation of Al-Qaeda using trafficking funds came from Harouna Touré, who led an Al-Qaeda-affiliated criminal group in North Africa. Among other income-generating activities, they transported hashish to Tunisia; trafficked people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India into Spain; and recently kidnapped Belgian citizens for ransom.

The increased use of human trafficking to fund terror is something I’ve seen coming for awhile. The notorious U.S. and Mexico-based MS-13 gang has been reported to have engaged in talks with Al-Qaeda, and they have used trafficking as a funding source for some time. So Al-Qaeda has a mentor in the industry. Also, since the U.S. declared a war on terror almost a decade ago, officials have identified and disabled a number of funding mechanisms for terror. Better technology has made it easier to track money online, and thus harder to move money from legal accounts into the hands of terrorists without raising flags. So it’s natural that terror organizations would turn to organized crime activities as a means of financing their operations — and trafficking in drugs and people are the most profitable organized criminal activities.

I hope this connection becomes clearer to law enforcement over the next year, and they begin to identify combating human trafficking as a serious national security issue deeply connected with the war on terror. Human trafficking allows terrorist organizations to finance their operations, including recruitment and bombings. And the conditions in which human trafficking thrive — poverty, political instability and extremism, and lack of political freedom — also provide fertile ground for terrorism to thrive in. This is especially true of places in the Middle East like Pakistan and Lebanon which have significant trafficking problems and the potential for more serious terrorism as well. Only once we accept that ending human trafficking is important to national security will we be able to cut the flow of cash from modern-day slave labor to terrorist organizations.

Photo credit: The Chorizo Warrior

Gang member admits forcing teen girls into prostitution

Another great example of law enforcement cooperation between Local and Federal authorities in the fight against Human Trafficking.(MGJ)

Seattle Times by staff writer Jennifer Sullivan 

 

DeShawn "Cash Money" Clark, an alleged member of the West Side Street Mobb, is on trial on prostitution-related charges.

Shawn Clark, a 21-year-old West Seattle man who authorities said pimped out two teenage girls, then took all of their earnings to support his lifestyle, pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court today.

His plea was followed by guilty pleas from fellow West Side Street Mobb gang member Thomas Foster, 20, to four counts, including promoting prostitution, assault and conspiracy to commit prostitution; and Gerald Jackson, 21, to one count of promoting prostitution.

Clark, Foster and Jackson are the latest members of the West Side Street Mobb to enter guilty pleas after Seattle police, the FBI, the King County Sheriff’s Office, as well as county and federal prosecutors, started investigating the gang last year for allegedly running a large juvenile prostitution ring.

A sentencing date has not been set for Clark, but his attorney and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O’Donnell have agreed to ask a judge to give him a high-end sentence of nine years in prison. Defense attorney Brian Todd said that had Clark not taken the plea deal he could have faced prosecution in U.S. District Court, where convictions could have landed him up to 15 years in prison.

The nine counts against Clark include charges for promoting prostitution, violation of a domestic violence protection order, witness tampering and criminal conspiracy. He will serve extra time because the crimes were committed as part of gang activity, said O’Donnell.

In court this morning, Clark admitted that he sweet-talked a girl he had known since junior high school into working as a prostitute. He said that he told the girl he loved her, then made her work almost seven days per week in motels in Seattle and SeaTac, according to plea paperwork.

Since his arrest, Clark had the girl continue working as a prostitute with the goal of earning enough money to help bail him out of jail. Earlier this month, King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert raised his bail from $250,000 to $1 million and said that he could only use the jail phones to call his attorney because authorities had recorded conversations of him ordering the girl to go back to work for him.

Clark was among six men arrested last year when Seattle police vice officers conducted a sting operation and arrested a 19-year-old woman who had advertised sexual services on Craigslist. Officers soon learned about other teenagers and young women being used as prostitutes.

Clark’s brother, DeShawn “CashMoney” Clark, was also arrested in the sting operation. DeShawn Clark is facing the stiffest charges, which include human trafficking, prosecutors said.

The Clarks’ mother, Glenda Thomas, was recently charged with witness tampering after she allegedly called several of the prostitutes and told them not to talk to authorities. She also contacted another West Side Street Mobb member who has pleaded guilty in the case and threatened him, prosecutors said.

On July 17, West Side Street Mobb member Mycah Johnson, 19, pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution and has since been sentenced to 21 months in prison.

On Aug. 3, Desmond Manago, pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution. Manago, who has not been sentenced, is not a West Side Street Mobb member but is friends with the other men charged, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors say that the West Side Street Mobb was formed only three years ago but now has 50 members and associates, and has been tied to two fatal shootings and to bank fraud. A handful of members are currently being prosecuted in U.S. District Court.

Teen prostitution has become a growing problem in Seattle, according to a recent report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

Peru accuses gang of killing to sell human fat

Here is a new gruesome twist on Human Trafficking. The police said this criminal gang stored the fat it collected in used soda and water bottles.  It only goes to show what lengths a criminal organization will go to make money. (MGJ)

From: GulfNews.com

A police officer displays two bottles containing human fat while another sets seized sticks of dynamite during a press conference in Lima, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009. Image Credit: AP

Lima: Peruvian police said on Thursday they had broken up a gang that allegedly killed dozens of people and sold their fat to buyers who used it to make cosmetics.

Four Peruvians were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, murder and trafficking in human fat.

The group stored the fat it collected in used soda and water bottles, which police showed reporters.

“We have people detained who have declared and stated how they murdered people with the aim being to extract their fat in rudimentary labs and sell it,” said Police Commander Angel Toldeo.

In addition to those taken into custody, police said they were searching for others who bought fat from the gang or might have worked with it.

Remains from some of the victims were found at a rural house in the region of Huanuco where the group worked, according police video.

Police said they were investigating 60 disappearances in the area that might be linked to the gang.

The investigation started this month after police heard about a shipment of fat that arrived in Lima by bus from Peru’s mountains.

ICE arrests more than 1,780 during the largest-ever nationwide gang surge

There are 1780 less gang members on the streets of America tonight. There are 1780 less gang members to engage in criminal enterprises which include Human Trafficking, Exploitation and crimes against children. Great job by American Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement. (Commentary by MGJ)

icebadgeWASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday the arrests of 1,785 gang members and associates, criminals and immigration violators, and the seizure of more than 100 firearms as part of a six-month intensive ICE-led law enforcement operation executed in 89 cities across the country, which ended Sept. 30. Through Operation Community Shield, ICE agents worked side by side with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in a six-month coordinated, national public safety surge against transnational criminal street gangs in the United States. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling and distribution, identity theft and benefit fraud, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling, weapons smuggling and arms trafficking, cyber crimes, export violations, and other crimes with a nexus to the border. “Operation Community Shield has progressed from a program that targeted individual gang members for arrest, prosecution, and removal to a successful strategy of dismantling the violent transnational gangs themselves,” said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. “The success of our public safety campaign in 2009 is a testament to our unique law-enforcement authority and the strong partnerships we enjoy with our law enforcement partners from across the country.” Of the 1,785 individuals arrested during the surge, 1,472 were gang members, associates or those otherwise criminally charged – including almost 35 percent with violent criminal histories and 16 gang leaders. The remaining individuals were encountered and arrested for immigration violations during the enforcement action and have been placed into removal proceedings. ICE agents arrested 905 individuals on criminal charges ranging from attempted murder, aggravated assault and drug and firearms violations to charges of re-entering the country after deportation. Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit a number of violent crimes, including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder. Among those arrested during the 2009 Operation Community Shield were: •Elmer Fredy Hernandez-Ayala, 29, an El Salvadoran national and member of the 18th Street gang was arrested in Los Angeles for re-entry after deportation. Hernandez was last deported in March 2004. Prior to his last deportation, he was convicted on California state charges of hit and run resulting in death or bodily injury. Hernandez’s criminal history includes charges of robbery, sodomy, battery, loitering at a school/molesting pupils, hit-and-run resulting in death or injury, and burglary. •Norris Lundy, 29, a U.S. citizen and a leader of the Young Head Bangers gang was arrested in Miami, Fla., for possession with intent to distribute narcotics and distribution of narcotics in or near schools. Lundy’s criminal history includes charges of homicide with a weapon, premeditated murder, robbery, battery on a police officer or firefighter, resisting arrest, possessing cocaine and marijuana, and aggravated battery. •Juan Manuel Roman, 25, a Mexican citizen and Surenos-13 gang member was arrested in Omaha, Neb., for re-entry after deportation. His criminal history includes charges of continuous sexual assault on a child, lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, brandishing a firearm replica, battery, and participating in a criminal street gang. •Adalberto Hernandez-Espinoza, 38, a Cuban national and leader of the Florencia-13 gang was arrested in Provo, Utah, on administrative immigration violations. Provo Police Department charged him with domestic violence, assault and threats. His previous arrests include possessing a weapon to commit assault and battery, firstdegree burglary, drug possession and trafficking, domestic violence, possessing burglary tools, and malicious destruction of private property. •Abner Ulises Molina-Granados, 23, an El Salvadoran national and associate of Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) gang was arrested in Virginia for fraud and misusing visas, permits, and other documents. His criminal history includes charges of malicious wounding by mob, discharging a firearm in/at an occupied building, and malicious destruction of property. The National Gang Unit at ICE identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities. Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to share intelligence on gang organizations and their leadership, share resources and combine legal authorities to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members. In addition to MS-13, targeted gangs included: Surenos-13, 18th Street Gang, Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, and Vatos Locos. Since inception through Sept. 30, 2009, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 14,800 street gang members and associates. Over a third of these apprehensions, or 5,829 of the arrested gang members or gang associates had a violent criminal history. Also, 180 of those arrested were gang leaders, and 2,572 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative, ICE has seized 806 firearms. To date, of those arrested, 6,030 have been charged criminally, and 8,852 have been charged with immigration violations and processed for removal.