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Feds crack down on human sex trafficking network

In recent years the federal government has placed new efforts on targeting individuals that are believed to be involved in human sex trafficking. Generally speaking human sex trafficking is defined as a form of slavery which involves the sexual exploitation of people for profits, usually through prostitution. Due to an increase in concern among various state legislatures over these issues there is currently a patchwork of state and federal laws that address the crime of human trafficking.

Recently, federal authorities announced that prosecutors are charging 24 people with federal crimes for their alleged involvement in a California street gang's sprawling prostitution ring. Authorities claim that the San Diego-based gang exploited dozens of victims across 46 cities in 23 different states. The women were allegedly branded with tattoos by gang members and passed back and forth between gang members and forced to sell themselves for sex.

An indictment claims that girls were recruited to the organization through social media and other methods and then forced to work the streets in exchange for protection, food, clothing and housing. The federal investigation led to a broad sweep earlier in the month that resulted in the arrest of at least 17 of the 24 people charged with federal offenses. Federal charges in the case range from racketeering to conspiracy.

Those facing charges for serious federal offenses such as human sex trafficking need to confer with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney right away. From long federal prison sentences to the forfeiture of property, the penalties for a federal conviction can have serious, long-term consequences. By mounting an aggressive defense, in many cases defense counsel can get an acquittal at trial, or a dismissal or reduction of the charges.

Source: RGJ, "California: 14 defendants plead not guilty to sex trafficking," January 9, 2014

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