Monday, February 23, 2009

FBI sting rescues child prostitutes around country

Miami Herald
Posted on Mon, Feb. 23, 2009


The FBI has rescued more than 45 suspected teenage prostitutes, including two in South Florida, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.
Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 50 alleged pimps, according to preliminary bureau data.

Agents in cities from Miami to Chicago to Anchorage took part in the operation. The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.

Miami, Miami-Dade and Miami Beach police helped local FBI agents in the investigation last weekend, Special Agent Judy Orihuela said. They took a 16- and a 17-year-old sex worker off the streets, and local police filed 28 misdemeanor prostitution charges and one felony drug charge.

Historically, federal authorities rarely play a role in anti-prostitution crackdowns, but the FBI is becoming more involved as it tries to rescue children caught up in the business.

''The goal is to recover kids. We consider them the child victims of prostitution,'' said FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Roberts.

'Unfortunately, the vast majority of these kids are what they term `throwaway kids,' with no family support, no friends. They're kids that nobody wants, they're loners. Many are runaways,'' Roberts said.

Most of the children are put into the custody of local child protection agencies.

The federal effort is also designed to hit pimps with much tougher prison sentences than they would likely get in state criminal courts.

Government prosecutors look to bring racketeering charges or conspiracy charges that can result in decades of jail time.

''Some of these networks of pimps and their organizations are very sophisticated, they're interstate,'' said Roberts, requiring wiretaps and undercover sting operations to bring charges.

The weekend's roundup marked the third such Operation Cross Country, and is part of a broader federal program launched in 2003 to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children.

Miami Herald staff writer Evan S. Benn contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Human Trafficking Conference at St. Thomas University

Join the LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights & the
Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking

for a conference on:

“Human Trafficking: Global and Local Perspectives”

Thursday, February 12, 2009
9 AM – 5 PM

Moot Court Room
St. Thomas University School of Law
16401 NW 37th Avenue
Miami, FL 33054

The most vulnerable members of our human family, the victims of human trafficking, in their silent pain call for help. Millions of them suffer each year from one of the greatest affronts to human dignity the world has ever seen. This shocking phenomenon now successfully rivals drugs and weapons, becoming one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world.

The community of nations has stood up to face the challenge. The United States continues to be in the forefront of international efforts to combat this horrendous crime. Successes are great, but the challenge even greater. Governed by our duty as civil society members to help shed light on this phenomenon, but also to assess needs, analyze situations, and suggest solutions, academic and religious communities, non-governmental organizations and interested individuals gather to contribute their efforts to defeat this scourge. Through presentations and discussions, questions and answers the conference will play its modest role in battling this 21st century slavery.

Sessions will examine:

• Human Trafficking: A Human Rights or a Criminal Law issue?
• The Necessity of a Victim-Oriented Approach to Human Trafficking
• Trafficking Initiatives in South Florida
• Research and Training Needs in the Field and Incipient Responses

Open to the public. No reservations required.

For more information contact:

Dr. iur. Roza Pati, LL.M.
Executive Director & Adjunct Professor of Law
LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights
Phone: 305 474 2447

Conference Agenda:

8:30 AM – 9: 00 AM --Registration and Continental Breakfast

9: 00 AM – 9: 30 AM --Welcome & Opening Remarks:

Reverend Monsignor Franklyn Casale
President of St. Thomas University

Dean Alfredo Garcia
Professor of Law & Dean, St. Thomas University Law School

Dr. iur. Roza Pati, LL.M.
Executive Director & Adjunct Professor of Law
LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights

9:30 AM-11AM

Panel I: Human Trafficking: A Human Rights or a Criminal Law issue?


Professor Dr. Ryszard Piotrowicz
University of Aberystwyth, Department of Law and Criminology
Wales, United Kingdom

Ann Marie Villafana, Esq.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida

Mark Kielsgard, Esq. LL.M., J.S.D. Candidate
Human Rights Expert

Karlyn J. Hunter, Esq.
Assistant U. S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida

11:00 AM-12:30 PM

Panel II: The Necessity of a Victim-Oriented Approach to Human Trafficking


Professor Dr. Federico Lenzerini
University of Siena School of Law, Siena, Italy

Ana Isabel Vallejo, Esq., LL.M., J.S.D. Candidate
Supervising Attorney, Lucha: A Women’s Legal Project
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center

Jasna Vujin, Esq., LL.M.
Human Trafficking Expert, Serbia

Kara Franker
Legal Fellow
Shared Hope International

12:30 PM-1:30 PM Lunch

1:30 PM- 3:15 PM

Panel III: Trafficking Initiatives in South Florida


Regina Bernadin
Program Manager, International Rescue Committee
Florida Freedom Partnership

Maria Jose Fletcher
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center

Martha Mino
Case Manager, Awareness Campaign & Victims Specialist
Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Janette Mendoza
Program Specialist, Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program,
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Miami

Sandy Skelaney
Program Manager
Kristi House

3:15 PM- 4:30 PM

Panel IV: Research and Training Needs in the Field and Incipient Responses

Dr. Elzbieta M. Gozdziak
Research Director & Editor, International Migration
Institute for the Study of International Migration, Washington D.C.

Professor Dr. Johnny McGaha
Director, Esperanza Project
Florida Gulf Coast University

Professor Dr. iur. Siegfried Wiessner, LL.M.
Director, LL.M. /J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights
St. Thomas University School of Law

4:30 Wine & Cheese Reception

Very Young Girls final dates on Showtime

The GEMS documentary Very Young Girls only has 4 more airdates, starting tomorrow Feb 5th at 7pm on SH3. Please tune in if you haven't seen it, and please tell your friends to watch it. More info is below...

And again, thank you for getting involved and invested!

Very Young Girls, a powerful film that tells the heart-breaking and ultimately inspiring stories of barely adolescent girls who have been seduced, abused, and sold on New York's streets.

Broadcast throughout the country to living rooms, schools, community organizations, and public institutions, Very Young Girls has awakened viewers to the brutal reality of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Experience this compelling film for yourself, then join GEMS in its heroic efforts to empower sexually exploited girls.

Turn viewing into action

Watch Very Young Girls live or set your DVR.
Check the schedule at right for upcoming airdates on Showtime and its networks, including the next broadcast on Thursday Feb 5th at 7:00 PM on Showtime 3

View anytime on demand. Very Young Girls is available on Showtime anytime now through March 3, 2009.

Host a screening party for friends and family. Register your party with GEMS and our RSVP system will help coordinate your guest list; complete a short post-screening evaluation and receive a free copy of Very Young Girls along with other gifts from GEMS. Visit to register your event.

Get involved! Visit the GEMS website to donate and learn how you can help end the commercial sexual exploitation of our youth.