Human Sex Trafficking Task Force Reports Successes, Reaches Out To Public For Assistance
2014-09-29 · By Editor
Human sex trafficking is the second largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs) and reportedly generates profits of nearly $32 billion dollars each year.
In January 2014, the Long Beach City Council recognized the need to bolster the Police Department’s efforts towards combating this modern day slavery, and provided discretionary funding to help support this task force. In February of 2014, the Human Sex Trafficking Task Force was implemented and the Department partnered with multiple agencies with the goal of impacting human trafficking through:
- The identification and rescue of commercially sexually exploited children and adult victims
- Providing victims services through community based non-profit organizations
- The identification, arrest and conviction of the persons profiting from this horrendous crime and those who use the services of sexually exploited minors
The LBPD’s Vice Investigations Detail developed a plan of action which included the following:
- Provided training and education to other specialized detectives throughout the department to create a force multiplier. This cadre of experienced investigators assisted in several multi-agency human trafficking operations.
- Conducted presentations to several community groups such as the PTA, churches and neighborhood associations, in an effort to increase public awareness.
- Created an informational brochure to help educate the community regarding human trafficking.
- Collaborated with multiple victim advocacy groups to assist with victim resources, which was a critical component in helping to provide victims with immediate and long-term assistance.
As of today, the task force operation culminated in a total of 91 arrests, which are broken down as follows:
- 20 human trafficking arrests
- 8 pimping arrests
- 24 assisting a prostitute arrests
- 29 “John” program arrests
- 10 arrests for internet crimes against children – *arrests made through our partnership with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC)
Other notable statistics include:
- 22 minors between the ages of 12 and 17 were rescued
- 54 women were referred to victim resources and support services
Additional facts regarding this operation:
- LBPD’s Vice Investigations Section filed more human trafficking cases than any other agency in Los Angeles County, and are on track to achieve this distinction for a second year in a row
- Over 60% of the suspects arrested for human trafficking related offenses are documented gang members and many cases resulted in successful gang enhancements being filed
- Several commercially sexually exploited children were runaways from as far away as Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and New York, and LBPD was able to reunite many of them with their families
- Numerous victims were assisted with residence relocation and tattoo removal
- LBPD participated in the recent development of the “Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children” which provides standardized guidelines for care of minor victims
- In our partnership with LAPD and their Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the 10 arrests that were made were of men who had arranged to meet who they believed was a minor, for sex. In one of the cases, the suspect arranged to have sex with two children under 10 years of age. After he was arrested, detectives searched the trunk of his vehicle and found a large roll of carpeting, several rolls of duct tape, handcuffs, and a magazine loaded with bullets
ASKING FOR PUBLIC’S HELP ON CURRENT INVESTIGATION
Vice detectives are currently working a human trafficking investigation and are asking for the public’s help. On September 15, 2014, detectives came into contact with a 16-year-old runaway and learned that she was involved in acts of prostitution. Through the investigation, it was learned that two male suspects were assisting her in these acts. One of the suspects, using a fictitious name, rented a motel room and purchased clothing from a retail store that the minor could use while performing acts of prostitution. Video footage of the victim, suspects, and suspect vehicle was captured on the store’s surveillance cameras. The vehicle, which appears to be a newer white 4-door sedan, was used to transport the minor to the motel. The victim was placed in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services. Investigators are hopeful that someone will recognize the suspects and/or vehicle in the videos and come forward. Anyone with information should contact the Vice Investigations Section at (562) 570-7219. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.
The Long Beach Police Department would like to thank the following agencies and community based non-profit organizations for their ongoing partnership and assistance in combating human sex trafficking:
- Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations
- The Los Angeles Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
- The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton Station
- The Los Angeles County Probation Department
- The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
- The Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office
- The Department of Children and Family Services
- The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST LA)
- The Mary Magdalene Project
- Saving Innocence
- Long Beach Minister’s Alliance
- Long Beach Branch of the NAACP
Definition of Charges:
Human trafficking – is when a suspect forces or coerces an adult into prostitution or any time a minor is the victim
Pimping – when a suspect profits from the actions of a prostitute. Force or coercion is not necessary. A minor is automatically considered a victim of human trafficking
Assisting a prostitute – when a suspect is arrested for assisting a prostitute when he or she monitors, protects, drives, or manages a prostitute
John arrests – when a suspect solicits a prostitute
The new legislation relating to human trafficking has resulted in harsher sentencing. Although the cases that stemmed from the Human Trafficking Task Force Operation are still under investigation and we are unable to elaborate, an example of these stiffer penalties is a 2013 Long Beach Police investigation that resulted in both defendants being convicted. Last week, 23-year-old Lebrette Winn was sentenced to over 47 years in state prison for numerous human trafficking and sexual assault related charges. In this case, in addition to repeatedly sexually assaulting one of the victims, Winn had his pimp moniker and a dollar sign tattooed on her face as punishment for wanting to go home. The co-defendant in this case, 25-year-old Eric Avery is scheduled to be sentenced on October 17, 2014, in Long Beach Superior Court, Dept. S19.