Trafficking Justice

At Trafficking Justice, we continually learn about human trafficking and we collaborate with other organizations to strengthen the anti-trafficking movement. Here is a sampling of recent news on human trafficking. Click here to receive our newsletter.

A local woman’s fight against sex trafficking took her to Thailand, where she went undercover as a sex tourist in the red light district.
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"What’s the biggest event for human trafficking in the US? If you said the Super Bowl, you’d actually be wrong"... Read More

Human Trafficking Survivor who Smashed Triathlon World Record

Norma Bastidas was lured into slavery with promise of a modeling job in Japan. She escaped traffickers with the help of a convent and set up a new life in Canada.  She began running to cope with trauma, completed world's longest triathlon in 2014.  
Read more here
Forced Labor: The Other Type of Human Trafficking

When Nita Belles first researched human trafficking, she focused on sex trafficking – the exploitation of young people, mostly girls, for the sexual gratification of others.

But as she delved into her studies, Belles – founder of the anti-trafficking group In Our Backyard – also learned about another widespread type of exploitation: labor trafficking.

Two Child Sex Offenders Explain How They Picked Their Targets

In their own words....See what child predators say about their methods of grooming and recruiting child victims 
over social media, and what parents can do to stop them.  


Report from a TJ Member who participated in Super Bowl 2017 outreach events sponsored by both Elijah Rising and Exodus Cry, an organization built on a foundation of prayer and committed to abolishing sex slavery through Christ-centered prevention, intervention, and holistic restoration of trafficking victims

Thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts while we were in Houston! 
Here are some of the highlights:
We spoke with customers over the phone and offered resources 
         oSounded like: "Hi! My name is ___. I'm calling you because this number is being           reported to HPD. This number was recorded as attempt to purchase prostitution services on If you listen to this brief message, I will remove your number from this list. Is that ok?"
       o"I didn't call! Someone else used my phone!"
       o"Sir, I assure you that this happens often. Please listen to this message so I can remove your number from the list."
       oProstitution facts, message of hope that Jesus loves them, and resources offered
       o"No, I don't want resources for sex addiction at this time."
We spoke with women working a track 
      oSounded like this: "Heeeeey girl!! What's up? Can I give you a free gift?"
      o[drunk/high/emotionally amped up] "What gift?"
      o"This lipstick! Is it your color? Check this out, just between us girls... see this number on the bar code? It's the number to a hotline for women who want to transition out of the sex industry. Can you give this to someone you know who might want help?"
     o"Sure girl! I better get back to work."
     o"Stay safe and take care of yourself! Jesus loves you!"
We handed out postcards advertising women for sale online, that directs users to a facts about trafficking page. 
     oThis outreach was so cool! A ministry tool that hooks in the very customer fueling the business, and provides real information!
We went to an incredible modern day slavery museum with items from real brothels that were shut down in the city 
     oIf you're passionate about this issue, I recommend dropping by next chance you can. Here's the website:
We learned about many different ways to reach the vulnerable among us
We were filled with hope and inspiration for what can be done in this issue!!!!

A Couple of Pics from the Elijah Rising Museum


Ashton Kutcher testified on February 17, 2017 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on progress in combating modern slavery. Kutcher spoke on behalf of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an organization he co-founded with then-wife Demi Moore in 2009 that builds software to fight human trafficking.

Select this link to the full committee hearing where Ashton testified, with comments 
from three US senators who are strong advocates in this battle: 
 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Human Trafficking


Washington County Looking To Crack Down On Sex Trafficking
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - In Washington County, authorities are working 
to crack down on sex trafficking.

Link here for video with Imran Ali:

Since mid-December, law enforcement agencies have worked together to bring charges against six men accused of aiding and abetting sex trafficking. "Probably five weeks of different complaints that have been issued," said Imran Ali, a prosecutor with the Washington County Attorney's Office. Ali has overseen the cases and filed the charges. He said the issue of sex trafficking is more than just a big city problem.  "I think it's changed, it's evolved. It used to be more open air solicitation in certain areas of the cities and now, with emergence of social media and internet-based platforms for solicitation, it's everywhere. This problem isn't just confined to the big city or certain areas in the city, it's anywhere and everywhere," Ali said.

His most recent cases involve six men accused of forcing women into prostitution. Four of the cases came down just this year, a pace that could lead to a record number of sex trafficking arrests for 2017. Last year, the Washington County Attorney's Office charged 12 cases total. The arrests are the result of a commitment made by law enforcement in 2015 to create a multi-agency task force to address the issue.  "We knew there was a problem. We knew that law enforcement, to solve the problem, had to work together," Ali said.  "I think it's been quite alarming to us on the law enforcement side just how much of this is out there that we were probably missing before," Woodbury police detective Paul Kroshus said.  Kroshus is among those working to make the arrests. He relies on tips but also takes a proactive approach through undercover stings at area hotels often set up through internet solicitations.  "I think that the increase that we've seen lately has been that we're getting better at what we're doing, and we're getting more proficient with it," Kroshus said.

Law enforcement are also taking a different approach with those forced into sex trafficking by no longer treating the victims of sex trafficking as criminals. Kroshus says it's helped investigators build their cases and bring charges against those responsible for sex trafficking.  "We interview them and we treat them as a victim, which is probably uncommon for how they've been treated in the past and I think that that approach from the law enforcement side has definitely helped us," Kroshus said.  "Rather than focusing on them, we're focusing on individuals who are benefiting from them. For years, they've been shielded and these young women, they're the ones going to court. They're the ones facing the charges while the trafficker is behind the scenes profiting and benefiting from it," Ali said.  

The men arrested in Washington County since mid-December include:
Tyree Erik Jones, 23, who is facing two counts of aiding and abetting engages in sex trafficking of an individual.
Freddie Lockett Jr., 40, faces one count of promoting prostitution of an individual.
Adam James Krimpelbein, 32, charged with aiding and abetting engages in the sex trafficking of an individual.
Deno Lamont Williams, 32, who is facing two counts of aiding and abetting engages in sex trafficking of an individual.
Maurice Leander Briggs, 40, who faces one count of promoting prostitution of an individual.
Dustin Jeffrey Arthur Heichert, 30, facing one count of aiding and abetting engages in the sex trafficking of an individual.

Help the Ant-Trafficking Cause by taking pictures of your hotel room and logging them into a database with an App on your phone!  

See below from an article at
The TraffickCam app -- which is free and available for iPhone, iPad and Android -- allows you to upload pictures of your hotel room, where they are then matched to a database used by law enforcement. This can help the police identify where trafficked children are.

"You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website," Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou explains. "And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked," she said.

The idea for TraffickCam came several years ago when the police sought help from the non-profit Exchange Initiative, formed by the Nix Conference and Meeting Management to end sex trafficking. Police wanted to identify a hotel where children have been trafficked. The police showed Nix staff a photo. "One of the girls in our office knew exactly what it was," Nix Principal Molly Hackett said. Exchange Initiative then teamed up with Washington University researchers to make the app.

Photos of victims are all too common, and the internet has made trafficking easier for criminals. "Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds," Stylianou said.

Since its creation, TraffickCam has acquired over 1.5 million photos of hotels around the world. Sgt. Adam Kavanaugh, the deputy commander of the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, is hopeful that the app will make a difference. He said, "I think it's going to be crucial to help us identify not only where they're at now, but where they've been at. Which is something we need -- that's helps with prosecution."

Backpage Raided, CEO Arrested on Sex-Trafficking Charges
By Don Thompson and Terry Wallace, Associated Press
DALLAS - Oct 6, 2016

State agents raided the Dallas headquarters of adult classified ad portal Backpage and arrested Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer on Thursday following allegations that adult and child sex-trafficking victims had been forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the site.

Ferrer, 55, was arrested on a California warrant after arriving at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport on a flight from Amsterdam, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In a statement, Paxton said agents from his Law Enforcement Unit participated in a search of Backpage headquarters and Ferrer's arrest.

"Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas. I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Ferrer was arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond and will face an extradition hearing before he can be returned to California.

The site's controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, have been charged with conspiracy to commit pimping, Harris said. Warrants have been issued for their arrests. Under California's law, felony pimping is defined as making money off of prostitutes or soliciting customers for prostitution. Harris says in a statement that the site's ads for "escort services" essentially make it an online brothel that generates millions of dollars from the illegal sex trade.

"Raking in millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims is outrageous, despicable and illegal," said Harris, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate in next month's election. "Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world's top online brothel."
An attorney representing Backpage, Liz McDougall, did not immediately respond to a telephone message left by The Associated Press.

The site advertises a wide range of services, but the California arrest warrant alleges that internal business records show that 99 percent its revenue came from its adult services section between January 2013 and March 2015. California officials said the site collects fees from users who use coded language and nearly nude photos to offer sex for money.

The site operates in hundreds of cities worldwide, authorities said, including more than 30 in California. It collected $2.5 million per month just from California, or more than $51 million during the 29 months covered by the internal revenue reports. Authorities said the state's three-year investigation found many of the ads include victims of sex trafficking including children under the age of 18.

The department said the investigation was prompted in part by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which reported 2,900 instances to California authorities since 2012 when suspected child sex trafficking occurred via Backpage. State agents posted escort ads online and met with those who posted to confirm that the communications were to arrange for commercial sex.

Backpage has been the subject of recent Senate hearings into its classified ads, which often promote escort services. Last month, the Supreme Court refused to block a Senate subpoena seeking information on how Backpage screens ads for possible.


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Supreme Court Refuses to Block Backpage Subpoenas in Sex Trafficking Investigation

The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to block subpoenas issued to by a Senate committee that is investigating its alleged role in facilitating child sex trafficking.  The Center for Missing and Exploited Children has identified Backpage as a primary online marketplace for child sex trafficking ads on the internet.  The website was subpoenaed nearly a year ago by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. When the subpoena -- which was issued in October 2015 -- went unanswered, the Senate took a rare move and held Backpage in contempt of Congress, which hadn't been done since 1995.

But Backpage and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, have refused to comply with the subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protects the company from complying with the Senate's demands.  But on Tuesday, the nation's highest court denied Backstage's request to block the subpoena. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.  Backpage declined to comment on the court's action.

Lawyers for Ferrer had argued in court papers, "This case highlights a disturbing -- and growing -- trend of government actors issuing blunderbuss demands for documents to online publishers of content created by third parties (such as classified ads) in a manner that chills First Amendment rights."  Stephen Vladeck a CNN contributor and law professor at the University of Texas called the case "an absolute quagmire in First Amendment doctrine."  "The whole fight is about whether and to what extent the First Amendment protects online publishers of third-party content (like Backpage)," Vladeck said.

Backpage functions much like Craigslist, but it's been known to be more permissive for adult content.  It was the target of CNN investigations in 2011 and 2012. Numerous lawmakers and regulators have been after the company in recent years, attempting to shut down the site's adult content section where much of the suspected child sex trafficking activity occurs.

American Express (AXP), Mastercard (MA) and Visa (V) stopped allowing cardholders to make payments on the site in 2015.  Mastercard and Visa acted after an Illinois sheriff estimated Backpage was making about $100 million per year from adult advertising, and he lobbied the credit card companies to take action.  Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill are heading up the Senate investigation. The lawmakers have called Backpage "the most important player" in the commercial sex advertising market.  

Backpage claims to combat human trafficking, saying that it screens posts for illegal activities. But a subcommittee investigation says Backpage actually aids sex traffickers by helping to shield them from detection.  For instance, the Senate investigators found Backpage screens posts before they appear online, and the site removes key words from ads that could tip off law enforcement officials to illegal activity.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the Supreme Court's action and to correct the spelling of Stephen Vladeck's last name.

CNNMoney (New York)
First published September 13, 2016: 1:02 PM ET


On May 26, 2016, another sex trafficking sting took place at the Motel 6 in Lakeville. This location has the perfect set up for trafficking… a truck stop and gas station, McDonald’s, Motel, and a Fantasy Gifts store. Please join us in praying for this area.

 Article: Undercover Child Predator Sting in Lakeville Leads to 3 Arrests

Sex trafficker gets record sentence
Dana Thiede, KARE 12:42 PM. CDT May 20, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A man prosecutors say was the leader and mastermind of a widespread sex trafficking ring will serve what is not the longest sentence of its kind in Minnesota history. 

Rashad Ramon Ivy was sentenced Friday to 700 months in prison - 58 years - after being found guilty on four counts of engaging in second degree sex trafficking, three counts of solicitation, and one count of criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old Ivy recruited, enticed and prostituted at least seven victims to dozens of men across the Twin Cities. 
The previous longest sentence for sex trafficking was 40-years. 

“For too long, Rashad Ivy and his co-defendants evaded arrest and prosecution. Today, their criminal enterprise officially came to an end with this landmark sentence because of this community’s resolve to end sex trafficking by properly identifying and helping victims and holding traffickers accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. “Sex trafficking has always been about vulnerable women and girls being tricked, exploited and sold for sex by ruthless traffickers to complicit men in our community."

 A criminal complaint says Ivy and his co-defendants, Tarris Trapps and Danika Johnson, recruited multiple women in St. Paul for the sex trafficking business with promises of “making money, getting new cars and living the dream”. Ivy and Trapps would typically roll up in a rented SUV, tell the women how attractive they were and then lure them back to their apartment where the men, along with Johnson, would convince them to enter into their trafficking business with a combination of enticements, coercion and physical violence.
The standard sales pitch began with talk of music videos but quickly turned to prostitution once they had the women back at their apartment.

​In one case after repeated requests on a St. Paul street corner, two victims agreed to get in the duo’s car. Upon arrival at the apartment both reported they were sexually assaulted by Ivy and Trapps. Before fleeing, the pair got one last pitch from the third accomplice, Johnson, about the money, cars and lifestyle they could have if they submitted to the defendants’ prostitution scheme.

Investigators also learned Ivy talked a victim (A.D.S.B.) into the business in June 2015, listing her on and as “Monica” and “Jazzmine”. Both Ivy and Johnson responded to ads and set up “dates” for the victim. Her ordeal came to an end only when Ivy beat her so badly she needed medical attention at United Hospital. She reported the abuse to hospital staff and police later arrested Ivy nearby.

Co-defendant Tarris Leeshawn Trapps pled guilty on January 25, 2016 to one count each of sex trafficking and solicitation to practice prostitution. He was sentenced to 82 months in prison on May 13.

Danika Sterling Johnson pled guilty to conspiracy to commit the felony of sex trafficking on November 11, 2015 and was sentenced on February 5, 2016 to a year in the workhouse.