Category Archives: Trafficking

Blue Bulletin Campaign: #HumanTrafficking101 June, July Video Series

.jpg photo of U. S. Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Logo
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to protecting children from abuse and educating them about how to protect themselves.

U. S. DHS BLUE CAMPAIGN: Weekly
Human Trafficking Education On
Social Media

May 2020

What’s New with Blue?

#HumanTrafficking101 Social Media Video Series

Next month, Blue Campaign will launch a #HumanTrafficking101 video series on its social media channels.  Each week during June and July we will discuss a human trafficking topic that will provide you with a better understanding of the crime and how to recognize and report it.

Follow Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see all the #HumanTrafficking101 posts.  Comment, like, and share the videos so that your friends and followers can learn more about this crime.

Download Human Trafficking Resources

Human trafficking is a complex crime, but Blue Campaign helps break it down so you can better understand what it is, what it looks like, and how to report it.  We offer a number of video and print resources that you can use to inform yourself and your community about the crime.

For example, our animated infographic video (now available in Spanish) can be used to educate individuals about the foundational elements of human trafficking.  It clearly defines the crime, explains different types of human trafficking (forced labor, sex trafficking, and domestic servitude), and details actions the public can take to combat it.

To report suspected human trafficking to Federal law enforcement:
1-866-347-2423

To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
1-888-373-7888
or text HELP or INFO to
BeFree (233733)

Para reportar un posible caso de trata de personas:
1-866-347-2423

Obtenga ayuda de la Línea Directa Nacional de Trata de Personas:
1-888-373-7888
o enviando un mensaje de texto con HELP o INFO to
BeFree (233733)

All resources on our website can be shared via social media, newsletters, trainings, and any platform you use to communicate with your friends, colleagues, and community.  To learn more about all the free resources Blue Campaign has available, click here.

A note about orders: Due to COVID-19 impacts on staffing you may experience delays in receiving your Blue Campaign materials order.  Thank you for your patience.

News You Can Use

Mayor Turner and City Council Approve Hotel Ordinance to Combat Human Trafficking

The Houston City Council approved an ordinance requiring hotels to train their employees on human trafficking.  Houston is the first major U.S. city to have an anti-human trafficking ordinance and only the second city in the United States after Baltimore.

Social Media Shareables

Tag Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using @DHSBlueCampaign. Each month we share content you can distribute on your social channels to raise awareness of human trafficking in your communities.

Do you know how to recognize and report #HumanTrafficking?   Follow @DHSBlueCampaign to learn more.  #HumanTrafficking101

Watch and share @DHSBlueCampaign’s #HumanTrafficking101 videos to learn more about the crime.

DYK:  @DHSBlueCampaign has free downloadable #HumanTrafficking awareness resources in Spanish and other languages.  Take a look:  https://bit.ly/2xLBsWw

Victims of forced labor can be found in the U.S. and overseas.  Learn more about who is vulnerable to this crime through @DHSBlueCampaign:  https://bit.ly/2AbkMbX

For more information visit the Blue Campaign

DHS: Protecting Our Children

.jpg photo of U. S. Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Logo
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to protecting children from abuse and educating them about how to protect themselves.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

BLUE BULLETIN CAMPAIGN

April 2020 has been proclaimed by the President as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The proclamation calls upon individuals to be aware of children’s safety and well-being, and to support efforts that promote their psychological, physical, and emotional development.  April is also a time to highlight the importance of working together to prevent the abuse and neglect of children.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to protecting children from abuse and educating them about how to protect themselves.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) created the Angel Watch Center in 2016 to expand its work with foreign law enforcement partners, alerting them about the intended travel by convicted registered child sex offenders from the United States to their countries.  The Center ultimately aims to stop the spread of transnational child sexual abuse.

Additionally, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)’s Project iGuardian program provides children, teens, parents, and teachers with information regarding the potential dangers of online environments and how to stay safe online.  The iGuardian program team is committed to providing safety tips, a number to call, and resources to the public to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators.

As part of HSI’s Operation Predator, which was first launched in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 31,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for the purpose of sexually abusing minors, and sex trafficking of children.  In fiscal year 2019, more than 3,900 child predators were arrested by HSI Special Agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims were identified or rescued.

To report a crime, you can utilize the HSI online tip form.  Report suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® via its toll-free 24-hour hotline at 1-800-843-5678.

News You Can Use

COVID-19 Resources, Services, and Support (Office of Health & Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children & Families)

The Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) is focused on preventing human trafficking and working to ensure that children and adults who have experienced trafficking and their families get the support and care they need to live safe and healthy lives.  This focus remains the same during responses to public health emergencies such as COVID-19.  As in times of disaster response, HHS recognizes that disruptions to local services, housing and economic stability, and social disconnection can further increase risk for victimization and exploitation.

ICE HSI Shares Tools to Keep Children Safe Online (ICE)

Across the country, children have shifted to virtual learning which results in significantly more time spent online.  In order to protect them, the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit at HSI reminds families that the agency has a variety of tools available on its iGuardian webpage to keep children safe while using the Internet.

School Closings Due to COVID-19 Present Potential for Increased Risk of Child Exploitation (Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI))

Due to school closings as a result of COVID-19, the FBI is seeking to warn parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation and signs of child abuse.

The Effect of COVID-19 on Human Trafficking (Polaris)

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is fully operational during this health emergency.  Polaris is continuing to update its website with resources and information for survivors.

Social Media Shareables

Tag Blue Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using @DHSBlueCampaign. Each month we share content you can distribute on your social channels to raise awareness of human trafficking in your communities.

  • Do you know how to stay safe online? Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign: https://bit.ly/2xhHBJW
  • Predators and traffickers can gain access to victims online because people are not always aware of how dangerous these environments can be or how to keep themselves safe.  Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign:
    https://bit.ly/2xhHBJW
  • The Internet is a great way to stay in touch, but predators and traffickers oftentimes stalk online meeting places such as social media sites to lure their victims.  Learn more from @DHSBlueCampaign: https://bit.ly/2xhHBJW

For more information visit the Blue Campaign

To report suspected human trafficking: 1-866-347-2423

To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)

TX AG CEU With Copperas Cove PD Take Down Six In Sting

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Josef James Dilly, 31, of Copperas Cove,TX.

AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit and Copperas Cove Police Department Arrest Six Men in Sting Operation

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Child Exploitation Unit and Human Trafficking Unit of his office, in a partnership with Copperas Cove Police Department, arrested five men for Online Solicitation of a Minor and one man for Prostitution during a three-day operation to locate and arrest online predators.

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Victor Manuel Vascot, 45, of Killeen, TX.

The arrested suspects include:

  • Josef James Dilly, 31, of Copperas Cove, arrested November 20 on one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
  • Victor Manuel Vascot, 45, of Killeen, arrested November 20 on one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
  • Isaac Figueroa Jr., 28, of Round Rock, arrested on November 21 on one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
  • Justin Earl Kepler, 31, of Lampasas, arrested on November 21 on one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
  • Jesse Franklin Quidachay, 37, of Copperas Cove, arrested on November 21 on one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
  • Demerick Deon Hearne, 47, of Copperas Cove, arrested November 20 on one count of Prostitution.

All of the men arrested were transferred to the Coryell County Jail.

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Isaac Figueroa Jr., 28, of Round Rock, TX.

“The grotesque targeting of children is a nationwide issue, and this serves as a reminder that our communities must remain vigilant to protect the most vulnerable from exploitation,” said Attorney General Paxton.  “I thank the hard-working investigators with my office’s Child Exploitation Unit and Human Trafficking Unit, and the brave police officers of Copperas Cove Police Department for stopping these child-predators from potentially harming more innocent children.”

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Justin Earl Kepler, 31, of Lampasas, TX.

Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down online predators.

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Jesse Franklin Quidachay, 37, of Copperas Cove, TX.

Since its inception, the Child Exploitation Unit has made 264 arrests and obtained 194 convictions on charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor.

.jpg photo of man arrested in sting operation by Law Enforcement
Demerick Deon Hearne, 47, of Copperas Cove, TX

Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their safety.

If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography, you can report it to NCMEC.
CyberTipline
1-800-843-5678

For more information on cyber safety, please visit:
https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/cyber-safety/

Women Abuse Children At Higher Rate Than Men

.jpg photo of woman accused of trafficking 11 year old girl
Gigi Mitchell, accused of trafficking an 11-year-old girl in Las Vegas.

Woman charged with sex trafficking of
girl, 11, on Las Vegas Strip

LAS VEGAS, NV  –  An 11-year-old girl boasted of smoking cigarettes and drinking booze on the Strip, and she told men she was a prostitute, according to police.

Now the 40-year-old woman prosecutors allege brought the girl to Las Vegas is charged with sex trafficking and child abuse.

In a brief court appearance Friday morning, Gigi Mitchell clasped her hands at her waist and choked back tears as Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia told Mitchell she faces a preliminary hearing next month on seven felony charges.

The girl, who admitted to drinking and smoking with Mitchell in casinos, has been taken in by child protective services.

Metropolitan Police Department officers working at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in the early morning hours of March 2 spotted Mitchell and the girl approaching men in the casino, while the girl wore a “tight-fitting” white floral dress and black high heels, according to an arrest report.

When the two were initially questioned by police, they gave what officers believed were “rehearsed” answers, the report said.

Mitchell told investigators that she and the girl were “selling flower pens” and went to The Cosmopolitan for breakfast.

Mitchell initially told police she had just met the men.  Later, she said they were cousins named Brandon and Justin, or Randy and Gary.

The girl, identified in the arrest report as “victim 1,” told police that she and Mitchell had driven to Las Vegas from Arizona around the time of the Super Bowl in early February and had stayed at various hotels along the Strip.

After Mitchell allowed police to review her phone, investigators found a photo of male genitals that she sent to the girl.  She denied sending the photo.

Mitchell’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Mike Feliciano, declined to comment on the allegations.

On the girl’s cellphone, police found various messages with men that appeared to be “prostitution related.”  In her purse, they found two condoms and three pens.

The report detailed various sexually explicit conversations the girl had with an unidentified man, with whom she apparently had engaged in sex acts.

In one, the man mentioned a desire to marry the girl.

“Tyna (thought you’d never ask) come on now I’m not marry type material,” she replied.

He responded: “Why u say that LMFAO”

The girl wrote back: “Cuz ima prostitute LMAO”

The messages appeared to indicate that Mitchell was aware that the girl had sex with the man.

One of the men, identified as “Tony” from San Francisco, messaged the girl about sex and she replied “Sorry hun, we are already done for the night.”

As of Friday, only Mitchell had been charged in the case.

When investigators tracked the man down, the report said, he immediately responded: “I did nothing with the young one.”  He said he discussed sex acts for money with Mitchell before changing his story to say that they “only discussed her giving him a massage for money.”

He said he was first approached by the girl, who wanted to sell him flowers, before she introduced him to Mitchell.  When investigators asked him about text messages he sent to the girl, he told them he had been joking.

Investigators later found records of Mitchell renting rooms along the Strip starting Feb. 3, the day of the Super Bowl.  She paid cash for three nights at Treasure Island, and later that month the two were spotted on surveillance at the New York-New York, Stratosphere, Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas hotels.  One of the men seen on video admitted to taking Mitchell to his room at Stratosphere, but said she “left abruptly” because she “must have thought he was a cop.”

The morning in early March that police found the girl and Mitchell inside The Cosmopolitan, they were seen approaching eight different men within 45 minutes. “Not one time did Gigi Mitchell or victim 1 approach a female guest,” the report said.

“Gigi Mitchell is seen holding flower pens and claimed she and (victim 1) were only trying to sell these pens.  It appears to (police) that Gigi Mitchell and victim 1 are using the flower pens as a cover to hide the activity of prostitution.”

The girl later told investigators that she and Mitchell sold pens to men for “anywhere from $10 to $1,500,” according to the report.

She said she and Mitchell would sometimes go to hotel rooms with men “because they would have more money up there …  Sometimes these men think they are going to do ‘bad stuff’ so they have more money but that she would never do that stuff … When these men would try to have them do stuff, they would just ‘ditch them’ and leave the room.”

Mitchell is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $500,000 bail.