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Human trafficking of women and girls is not a third-world issue. The leafy suburbs of Southern New England are not insulated from the vile trade. It's as close as a North Attleboro shopping mall, a Seekonk motel room, who knows where else. In January, a year-old man was charged Craigslist sex North Attleborough forcing a year-old and a year-old girl to have sex for profit at motels in Seekonk and Rhode Island and using a Taser to keep them in line. Another man was arrested and charged last month with forcing a year-old girl into prostitution in a room at a Warwick, R.
In Southeastern Massachusetts as well as across the United States, schemes in which women and girls as young as 13 are being sold to have sex with strangers are on the rise. Despite new laws and initiatives by state, local and federal law enforcement, victims - often held against their will - are being exploited in a dark and cynical world of vice. A headline on the FBI's web devoted to sexual trafficking says it best: "It's sad but true: here in this country, people are being bought, sold and smuggled like modern-day slaves.
Law enforcement officials blame an increase in incidents of child prostitution and sexual slavery on a new generation of ruthless pimps and con men and new avenues for sexual commerce, such as online personal that feature thinly veiled advertisements for prostitution.
Victims may be young girls from other countries gulled into prostitution, local runaways or youngsters alienated from their families. Pimps may approach homeless or unattached girls with offers to model or star in videos, or just a place to crash.
But, often those offers lead to being photographed in their underwear and having their pictures posted as online advertisements for sex. In the January case, a court affidavit says that Reginald Chaney,19, of East Providence, picked up the and year-olds and drove them to a home in East Providence where they were photographed in their underwear. The photos were ed to back.
The girls said they were frightened because they feared Chaney might use the Taser on them. They were then driven to a Motel 6 in Seekonk where he allegedly raped the year-old. Throughout the month of January, according to court documents, the teens were driven to various locations in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island where they were required to perform sex acts for money. The girls, police said, had to sneak out of their homes at night to comply with Chaney's demands. One of the victims said he used the Taser on them and that they were continually threatened with its use if they refused to perform.
Seekonk police obtained a search warrant for the motel room rented by the suspect and found a purple-colored Taser and papers bearing the man's name.
On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Providence returned a six-count indictment charging Chaney with conspiracy, sex trafficking of and transportation of a minor. In another case, police charged two suspects with sexually trafficking a year-old girl at Motel 6 and other locations. And in yet another, a Boston man was charged with picking up a year-old runaway at Emerald Square mall in North Attleboro and turning her to prostitution against her will in Rhode Island.
To many, such scenarios might seem like a nightmare more likely to play out in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, large cities or in a frightening Hollywood movie.
But experts say such exploitation is probably closer than they think. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by the anti-slavery Polaris Project, received reports last year of 3, sex trafficking cases in the United States. Worldwide, the problem is even larger. The International Labor Organization estimates there are 4. Reports of prostitution and sexual servitude have increasingly raised an alarm locally since because of a series of arrests Craigslist sex North Attleborough to incidents at motels in Seekonk and Warwick, as well as other Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island locations.
Seekonk Police Chief Craig Mace said authorities have conducted local sting operations and make regular register checks in an attempt to catch prostitutes, pimps and other criminals. He said the management at Motel 6 has cooperated with police and is obtaining appropriate registration data on its customers. Lists of potentially troublesome guests would be sent to the police department, along with a "do not rent" list. In addition, there will be security cameras installed and training for hotel employees. Motel 6 management has also offered to share daily lists of customers with police so they can be checked against records of outstanding warrants.
Motel 6 executives met with Warwick officials this month and pledged to take steps to stem numerous crime reports at the chain's Jefferson Boulevard location.
In the last year, there have been 75 calls to police for prostitution, drugs and other crimes. Motel 6 officials said they will raise the check-in age at the Warwick location from 18 to 21 and plan to place an off-duty police officer at the motel seven days a week.
In addition, the motel will give its guest list to police daily so that investigators can check for names with outstanding arrest warrants. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said the crisis point was reached last March when human trafficking arrests and a methamphetamine lab were reported at the motel within days of one another. Fighting sexual exploitation has received increased emphasis in recent years from state officials and lawmakers, including a law deed to crack down on trafficking.
Attorney General Maura Healey recently filed a brief backing a lawsuit against the owners of back. The law created the new crime of trafficking persons for sexual servitude, with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. It also increased penalties for purchasers of sexual services.
So far, 19 people have been prosecuted under the law, which also created an interagency task force on human trafficking. The Attorney General's Office also established a specialized Human Trafficking Unit in focusing on policy, prevention and prosecution of human trafficking offenses. Despite the best that police and state and federal agencies can throw at it, sexual exploitation of young women - many of them little more than children - shows no of slowing.
Earlier this month, two men were arraigned in federal court on charges of transporting a year-old Rhode island girl and a year-old to engage in criminal sexual activity at motels in Warwick and Seekonk as well as other locations. According to a court affidavit, the year-old was instructed by one of the men to post for herself on back. The girl said she performed sexual services and split the proceeds with one of the men beginning last December. According to court filings, investigators searching for the girl were notified in February that Seekonk police had found the year-old, along with the two defendants and a year-old girl at the Motel 6 in Seekonk.
Franklin Liberto, 20, and Mackenzy Scott, 19, both of Providence, were charged in federal court with one count each of sex trafficking ofconspiracy to commit sex trafficking oftransportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity and conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Their cases are pending. Edit Close. Toggle Menu. Don't have an ? Up Today.
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