Law enforcement agencies have announced a series of arrests spanning several deep south states, that police say resulted in the shutdown of a dangerous crime syndicate, and the annihilation of multiple child-sex trafficking and human trafficking rings, beginning in Iowa, and ending in the areas of Georgia, and finally South Carolina.
The first of the several trafficking rings begins with a case centering around a 16-year-old child, who we've learned was reported missing from Iowa, and was later traveling alongside a pair of criminals that the Myrtle Beach Police Department alleges were operating human trafficking, and child-sexual trafficking rings.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">23-year-old Mark Cortez Spicer-Credit:<a href="https://www.ourquadcities.com/news/dewitt-woman-arrested-for-human-trafficking-involving-a-16-year-old-girl/1388471557"> Our Quad Cities</a>. </span>
The young child, after being reported missing, is said to have willingly left Iowa in a vehicle traveling across multiple states with one male and one female adult, Phylicia Marie King, and 23-year-old Mark Cortez Spicer, as reported by<a href="https://www.ourquadcities.com/news/dewitt-woman-arrested-for-human-trafficking-involving-a-16-year-old-girl/1388471557"> local news affiliate Our Quad Cities</a>.
The trio first headed eastbound out of Iowa, where they made their first stop in Chicago, Illinois, where the child was forced to perform sex acts on various men to finance the rest of the trip. That would be profitable for Mark Cortez Spicer, and his accomplice Phylicia Marie King, who took the proceeds to purchase gasoline, food, hotels, and other necessities. Little did the girl know just how deranged the trip would become.
They then headed to Nashville, Tennessee, continuing to sell the minor child for sexual exploitation, before arriving at their final destination in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
On August 16th, just around week since the child and two adults first began their journey across the nation, the Myrtle Beach Police Department began its an investigation into allegations of possible human trafficking by following a series of leads which were called in to the Department by assigning Detectives "who are specially trained in these types of cases.”
After learning of the two adults and minor child, and their travels, Detectives discovered the trio first arrived on August 13th. The trio had rented a room at the Budget Inn, located at 501 N. Ocean Boulevard.
The group was posting advertisements seeking to attract paying pedophiles to have sex with the child. Law enforcement had been monitoring those ads throughout the cross-country journey.
Despite knowing they were closing in on the operation, Detectives had not quite yet pinged in on the exact locations of the ringleaders and the young girl.
The next day, on August 14th, both Spicer and another person took the child to the area of Mr. Joe White Avenue, where Spicer forced the youth to again have sex with another customer.
On August 15th, Spicer and another person had arranged for another sale of the child and took the young girl to a nearby Walmart, located at 541 Seaboard Street, where cash would again be paid for sexual relations with the young girl. The money made from that sale was used by Spicer to pay for that night's food, gas, and hotel expenses.
According to warrants, Spicer, the victim, and King were together when they had traveled from Iowa to Chicago, to Nashville, to Atlanta, and then to Myrtle Beach, making the potential charges coming each of those jurisdictions in the coming weeks increasingly likely.
On August 16th, law enforcement with the Myrtle Beach Police Department received a call to respond to an emergency at the 500 block of 5th Avenue N. in Myrtle Beach around 5:45 PM. The caller stated that a child was being held against her will, and a male who was holding her was being problematic to civilians.
Once police arrived a the hotel, they kicked in the door and arrested Spicer, and freed the young girl.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Phylicia Marie King. Credit:<a href="http://www.kwqc.com/content/news/DeWitt-woman-accused-of-human-trafficking-teen-491479231.html"> KWQC</a>.</span>
At some point during their trip into Myrtle Beach, King fled the scene and went back to DeWitt, Iowa, where she was arrested and is awaiting her extradition to South Carolina.
Both adults will face charges of forcing the child to remain against her will, forcing the rape of the child, and several federal charges in relation to continuous human trafficking with the intent to harm the young girl in each of the jurisdictions wher the sexual abuse and interstate trafficking ocurred.
Arrest warrants also state Spicer has warrants out in Illinois for a probation violation,
According to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center booking records, Spicer is being held on charges including assault, assault and battery third degree, fugitive, and trafficking in persons.
The victim told police that Spicer was not only aware that she was performing the sex acts for money, but that he had financially benefited from her forced prostitution, as reputed by<a href="http://www.kwqc.com/content/news/DeWitt-woman-accused-of-human-trafficking-teen-491479231.html"> local NBC affiliate Channel 6 KWQC</a>, with the victim also saying that she was forced to continue those sex acts to support her, and she was doing the acts to fund and support every expense during their nightmare trip.
Anyone with any additional information about this specific human trafficking case or any of the suspects involved is asked to contact the Myrtle Beach Police Department at 843-918-1382.
As part of the operation and those who have come forward about Spicer and the unidentified person in South Carolina who had assisted in the transport of the girl to clients, law enforcement were led to another major operation, this time in Georgia.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Marietta Police arrested Kenneth Thomas, Laura Elizabeth Waugh, Kamari Bolden, and Douglas Laverne White in a sex trafficking case involving a 15-year old girl. Credit:<a href="https://www.wsbradio.com/news/crime--law/marietta-police-rescue-teen-from-human-trafficking-operation/JqPOc5DmR6PxXGr8fgxzQP/"> Cobb County Sheriff's Office</a>. </span>
The Marietta Police Department says that they received a frantic call for help on August 21st, where a young girl, who told the dispatcher she was only 15-years-old, had been the victim of kidnapping, forced rapes, and a series of sexual assaults at the hands of several men inside a hotel room she was locked in.
The Marietta Police Department quickly responded to the Days Inn on the 2100 block of Northwest Parkway in Marietta, Georgia, where they were able to tear down the door and rescue the child, who said she was told that if she tried to escape, she would be murdered.
Knowing where her captor's rooms were, inside the same Days Inn, the child helped the police obtain search warrants for at least two more rooms.
"They started moving in while we were working, and the next thing you knew, there was a big van and a SWAT tank," said witness Cody Matrone to<a href="https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/cobb-county/15-year-old-girl-rescued-4-people-accused-of-trafficking-pimping-her-for-sex/817660011"> local news affiliate WSB-TV </a>in Atlanta.
After law enforcement kicked in those doors, they found three suspects were in the rooms, and discovered a fourth suspect involved in the kidnapping and the forced child-sex trafficking operation was at a fourth hotel nearby.
Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy details what the girl told dispatchers: "She had just gotten out of a hotel room where she was being forced to have sex with older men, and that she was told if she left that she would be killed."
Marietta Police wasted no time in securing a warrant track down and arrest the man being called the “ringleader” of the network of child sex trafficking, 22-year-old Atlanta resident Kamari Bolden. They would learn that Bolded was also responsible for the 15-year-old girl's makeup in one motel room, which they would redo between each customer she was forced to have sex with.
Bolden photographed the young girl, and assisted with the online advertising of the child, to lure paying pedophiles into the forced sex with the child, as well as posting her images on several online escort services ads.
Marietta Police say Bolden would then set up what he described as “dates” for the underage girl, in which she was required to perform sex with multiple men for $80 in a nearby room.
Police charged Bolden with trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude, which is a felony.
Also arrested in the raids was 17-year-old Laura Waugh of Marietta, who was photographed with the victim several times, and offered to perform sexual acts with the girl in the online ads for a higher price, no doubt a disgusting and disturbing way to attract pedophiles.
Detectives also apprehended 22-year-old Kenneth Thomas of Fairburn, who they say was tasked with renting the nightly rooms for the prostitution of the children, just a misdemeanor, and also on felony charges of pimping and trafficking of persons for labor and sexual servitude, as reported by the<a href="https://www.ajc.com/news/crime--law/breaking-arrested-human-trafficking-case-involving-year-old-girl/NQXle3hOpX7L4necoqMauO/"> Atlanta Journal-Courier</a>.
17-year-old Waugh was charged with giving a false name and date of birth to law enforcement, which is just a misdemeanor, along with a felony charge of trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude.
26-year-old Douglas White of Dallas was also arrested by the Marietta Police Department. He faces felony charges of pimping and trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Among those arrested were Kamari Bolden, 22, of Atlanta, Laura Waugh, 17, of Marietta, Kenneth Thomas, 22, of Fairburn, and Douglas White, 26, of Dallas, according to police. Credit:<a href="https://www.mdjonline.com/news/marietta-sex-trafficking-ring-thwarted-police-say/article_997739c0-a55b-11e8-9647-338800611347.html"> MDJonline</a>.</span>
After the arrests, the Marietta Police booked all four suspects on their respective charges, and detained them in the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, Police spokesman Charles McPhilamy said in an emailed statement on the arrests.
“We commend this young victim for having the courage to report the crime as well as the hard work our detectives put into thwarting this operation while still in its infancy,” McPhilamy said.
McPhilamy says the police chief and the department commend the younger teen, whose life was threatened, for having the "tremendous courage" to call 911. It is unclear how she managed to get out of the room, or whose phone she used.
"If it weren't for the courage of this young woman reaching out to 911, as well as the community's ability to trust us as a local police department and cooperate with us and share information, crimes like this might go unsolved," McPhilamy says. "We have huge admiration for this young woman, and hope and pray for a speedy recovery for her."
Anyone with information related to this case or any of the suspects apprehended is urged to contact Detective Mark Erion at 770-794-5363 where you can remain anonymous.
Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds said his office handles more sex trafficking cases than most people might think.
“Today, we probably have ten to twelve human trafficking cases pending,” Reynolds said. “I think there are more out there. They’re just very difficult to make.”
What makes the cases difficult to prosecute is the reluctance of victims to speak to authorities, Reynolds said, adding they are often intimidated by their captors and told they will be hurt or killed if they talk to police.
“You’ve got victims who are terrified. And once police engage them, they are frequently intimidated by pimps and gang members to the point they won’t admit they are being trafficked,” Reynolds said. “Those threats linger even after they have been removed from a situation. Even when the pimps or traffickers are locked up in custody, they are still very concerned and very scared.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline operated by the nonprofit Polaris Project, 4,340 calls were made to its hotline in Georgia from 2007 through 2017.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued the following about human trafficking in 2018:
"This year’s report focuses on effective ways local communities can address human trafficking proactively and on how national governments can support and empower them. Local communities are the most affected by this abhorrent crime and are also the first line of defense against human trafficking. By engaging and training law enforcement, religious leaders, teachers, tribal elders, business executives, and communities, we become more vigilant and learn to identify and address vulnerabilities swiftly. Proactive community-driven measures strengthen our ability to protect our most vulnerable and weaken a criminal’s ability to infiltrate, recruit, and exploit. I have experienced firsthand that individuals closest to a problem are often the best resource for solving it, which is why the Department prioritizes equipping and empowering front-line civil society leaders.
"Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the United States government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come." – Secretary of State Michael R.Pompeo.
Millions of women, men, and children around the world become victims of human trafficking each year, according to the United Nations. In an attempt to not only raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking but end the practice, the United Nations has used the end of July to mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons since 2013. But the practice of human trafficking won't be eradicated without everyone's help, including yours. Start by educating yourself on this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons with these 13 alarming sex trafficking statistics.
While human trafficking is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as being a "modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain," it can take many forms throughout society, sometimes far more graphic than the next, but all victims are essentially enslaved.
Lured by false promises of a good job, educational opportunities, a stable conflict-free environment or even a loving romantic relationship, victims of human trafficking are then pushed into forced labor or begging, sexual exploitation, and domestic servitude.
Over the years, human trafficking has, unfortunately, become a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise that affects nearly every single country, according to the United Nations. And sex trafficking alone is among the world's fastest growing criminal industries.
<b>There Are An Estimated 24.9 Million People Trapped In Forced Labor Via Human Trafficking Worldwide</b>, as reported by the<a href="International Labor Organization (ILO) "> International Labor Organization (ILO)</a>.
According to<a href="http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf"> data from the UN </a>, 51 percent of victims are women while another 20 percent are girls, accounting for 71 percent of victims.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's <a href="http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf"> 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons</a>, 54 percent of all trafficking victims in 2014 were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Between 2012 and 2014, the United Nations detected <a href="http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf"> 23,000 victims of sex trafficking </a>23,000 victims of sex trafficking. While the majority of those victims were female, men were also reported as victims. According to the UN, males reported as trafficked for sexual exploitation between 2012 and 2014 were "concentrated in Western and Southern Europe and the Americas.”
According to the <a href="http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf"> UN Office on Drugs and Crime,</a> UN Office on Drugs and Crime, women make up a relatively large share of convicted traffickers when compared to most other crimes. In fact, the UN claimed court cases have shown that while the majority of trafficking victims are women and girls, women are also "commonly involved in the trafficking of women and girls, in particular." Specifically, data showed that women are often used to recruit other women into trafficking.
<i>The scourge of child pornographic distribution continues to be eliminated under the Trump Administration, which has result in over 9000 arrests related to human and child-sex trafficking, child molestation, or child pornography since President Trump's inauguration in January of 2017, setting records in the widespread victories against the rampant pedophilia in America.</i>
If you know of any child who may have been a victim of sexual exploitation, please call the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visit the<a href="https://www.missingkids.com”> NCMEC’s web site </a> where you can find assistance directly dependent upon the specific case you're interested in finding information for.
Members of the public who have information about child-sexual predators are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199.
<a href="https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form">They can also submit a tip over the internet by completing ICE’s online form by clicking here.</a>
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is also bringing down suspected child-sex offenders through Operation Predator.
You can contact ICE via the Operation Predator application for mobile devices. ICE has created a smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators.
The iOS version of the app can be downloaded from<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/operation-predator/id695130859?mt=8"> Apple's App Store and iTunes</a>; the Android version is also available via<a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.java.ice"> Google Play Store</a>
Also, contact your elected officials and demand legislation that will enact harsh penalties on those captured or charged with these crimes after they're convicted.
<a href="https://www.house.gov/Representatives">Click here to find your elected officials in the House of Representatives.</a>
<a href="https://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_correspond_senators.htm">Click here to find your elected officials in the United States Senate.</a>
Additional Sources or Relevant Information:
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