St. Joseph Sister with Entrepreneurial Spirit Works with Victims of Human Trafficking

St. Joseph –Margaret Nacke

St. Joseph Sr. Margaret Nacke
Who she is:
 Founder and coordinator of Bakhita Initiative
Lives in: Belleville, Kan.

Sr. Camille: Margaret, a mutual friend and member of your religious community, Sr. Ann Strizek, speaks highly of you and the work you do from your home base in rural Kansas. She describes you as active in the efforts to reach those caught in the web of human trafficking. She said you also provide help for sisters in Europe.

I’d like to begin by asking how you got involved in human trafficking and what it is you are able to do in this arena.

Nacke: I have no clear statement for how I became involved in human trafficking other than that one day, I decided to self-educate about this issue. Friends say it was the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t long before I was invited to give talks to various groups on human trafficking, including classes at the community college in Concordia, Kan. At the college, I began working with four faculty members, and these meetings turned into organizing a successful conference, Human Trafficking: 21st Century Slavery. We have continued to meet and are now assembling a group of students who will examine the Code of Conduct for campus and educate other students about various abuses of the dignity of people.

To read the full interview between Sr. Margaret Nacke and Sr. Camille on NCR: Click Here

Four Charged with First-Degree Human Trafficking for Allegedly Trafficking 14-Year-Old Girl in Hudson County Prostitution Ring

Arrests made by FBI Child Exploitation Task Force & New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today that four men have been arrested on first-degree charges of conspiracy, human trafficking and promoting prostitution of a minor for allegedly trafficking a 14-year-old girl in a prostitution ring they operated in hotels in and around Hudson County. The alleged boss of the ring surrendered to authorities this morning.

The following four men were charged on May 11 in an investigation by the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force in Atlantic City and the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit in the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau:

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  1. Michael A. McLeod, 24, of Jersey City, the alleged “boss” of the ring, and his alleged assistants:
  2. David Powell Jr., 28, of Jersey City,
  3. Tyree D. Jeter, 27, of Jersey City, and
  4. Demetrius James Hayward, 19, of Summerville, South Carolina.

McLeod surrendered today to the Jersey City Police Department. Powell and Jeter were arrested on May 11 in Jersey City. Hayward already was in custody following his arrest on May 8 in Jersey City on an unrelated warrant. The investigation began in April when the FBI Task Force received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that photos of the 14-year-old victim, who was a runaway from South Jersey, were being used in ads for a “female escort” on

It is alleged that McLeod used violence or the threat of violence to control the two victims who were prostituted by the defendants: the 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman. The human trafficking charge and first-degree prostitution charge pertain to the defendants’ conduct against the 14-year-old. McLeod is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly holding a gun to the head of the 18-year-old and threatening to kill her recently when he accused her of disrespecting him. Other times, he allegedly beat and kicked her. The defendants allegedly put the victims up at each hotel for four or five days at a time. The victims were required to prostitute themselves under the control of McLeod and his assistants. Each victim had sex with up to 10 customers a day, making up to $800, all of which McLeod collected.

The FBI Child Exploitation Task Force in Atlantic City includes FBI agents, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office detectives, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office personnel, and the New Jersey Human Services Police. The Secaucus Police, Northfield Police and Jersey City Police assisted in the investigation. The Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Unit will prosecute the defendants.

“It’s heartbreaking that a 14-year-old girl became trapped in a horrific life where, out of fear and isolation, she was forced to engage in sex with up to 10 men a day,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “This case starkly illustrates the wretched slavery endured by victims of sex trafficking. These men we have charged rightly face some of the harshest penalties available under state law.”

“Human traffickers operate in the shadows of society where their crimes against vulnerable victims are easily hidden,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through the type of collaboration exemplified by the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, we’re shining a light on these crimes and rescuing victims like this young runaway. We urge anyone who sees a child or teenager at a hotel in suspicious circumstances to call our confidential human trafficking hotline.”

Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI Newark Division said: “The FBI working jointly with our law enforcement partners on the Child Exploitation Task Force is committed to hunting down the human traffickers who prey upon the children and exploit the vulnerable in our state.”

An undercover detective from the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force telephoned the number in a ad containing photos of the missing runaway and arranged a “date” for April 9, 2015 at a motel room in Secaucus. When the detective went to the motel, he was met by the 14-year-old girl as well as the 18-year-old victim, who was assigned to keep track of her. After the 14-year-old girl offered the detective sex for money, officers entered the motel room and took custody of the two teenagers.

Further investigation revealed McLeod’s alleged status as “pimp” or “boss” as well as the roles of the other men. Powell and Jeter allegedly rented hotel rooms in their names for the girls. Jeter allegedly would share their hotel room, waiting outside as security while the girls were working. Powell also allegedly would act as a “body guard” for the girls, waiting outside while they were with customers. McLeod allegedly relied on Jeter, Powell and Hayward to control the girls when he was not around and ensure they were not free to leave. Hayward allegedly transported the girls between hotels. Hayward, Powell and Jeter also allegedly brought food to the girls or took them out to eat, because McLeod did not let them have any money. McLeod allegedly collected all of the money from the girls. He allegedly gave Hayward, Powell and Jeter a small percentage of the money, but kept most of it for himself.

Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, Deputy Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Detective Sgt. Noelle Holl are assigned to the case for the Division of Criminal Justice. Acting Attorney General Hoffman commended the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force for its work on this case. The lead investigators for the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force are Detective Paul Vanaman of the Human Services Police Department, Sgt. William Adamson and Detective Jennifer Cugini of the Atlantic County Prosecutors Office, Detective Gregory Engster of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, and Special Agent Daniel A. Garrabrant of the FBI.

All four defendants are charged with the following offenses:

  • Conspiracy (1st degree),
  • Human Trafficking (1st degree),
  • Promoting Prostitution of a Child Under 18 (1st degree),
  • Promoting Prostitution (3rd degree),
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child (3rd degree).

In addition, McLeod is charged with Aggravated Assault (4th degree). The defendants are being held in the Hudson County Jail with bail set at $400,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The first-degree human trafficking charge carries a sentence of 20 years without parole to life in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who suspects human trafficking to report it by calling the Division of Criminal Justice’s Human Trafficking Hotline 1-855-END-NJ-HT.


It Happens Here: Changing Views on Human Trafficking

Jennifer Kempton didn’t think it would happen to her.

Kempton was lured into a human trafficking ring by her then-boyfriend in Columbus. She was branded, forcibly tattooed to be marked as property of that boyfriend and other gangs.

Commonly referred to as Romeo pimps, men like the one who coerced Kempton exploit the vulnerability of women and girls often brought on by low self-esteem or economic instability.

Private investigator Lilly Paisley, who lives and works in Zanesville, said Romeo pimps, also referred to as loverboys, make it seem as if they will take good care of women who feel as if no one else will. They later force women into the violent and drug-ridden underworld of human trafficking — the buying, selling and trading of human beings for sex or labor.

“Since slavery was supposedly taken out of existence after the Civil War, it’s been kept underground now,” Kempton said.

Kempton spent six years in a human trafficking ring before making it out in 2013.

To read the full story by Bradley W. Parks of the Zanesville Times Recorder: Click Here

Detroit Man to Spend 40 Years in Prison on Sex Trafficking Charges

DETROIT (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A Detroit man will spend 40 years in prison for sex trafficking crimes involving three underage girls from Lansing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Christopher Bryant recruited the girls in 2014, and posted their pictures on social media, advertising them for sex.

He’s also accused of giving them drugs and alcohol, and threatening to kill one of them for staying out too late.

Investigators remind you that you can help stop child sex trafficking by recognizing the warning signs.

If you see an adult man with multiple teenagers, particularly girls, buying condoms, alcohol, cigarettes, pre-paid gift or debit cards, he could be a John.

This activity is usually spotted at pharmacies, gas stations, casinos, and hotels.

If you suspect human trafficking, call 9-1-1 right away.

This story originally appeared on News Channel 3 WWMT

Brazil’s Olympics Overshadowed by Sex Exploitation

On August 5, 2016, celebrations will erupt in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Approximately 205 nations will be present at the 2016 Summer Olympics and, if the number of visitors reaches numbers similar to the World Cup, over a million people will flood into the country. But, as the motto “viva sua paixão” (live your passion) hangs high over stadium crowds, sex slaves will be trafficked throughout a country whose ideology perpetuates sexism and gender inequality. The irony will not be subtle — an Olympic motto fit for freedom will be displayed while humans are bought and sold.
In Brazil, machismo is the norm and it often turns violent. Statistics in Brazilshow that 59% of Brazilians know a woman who has been a victim of violence. Brazil has the seventh highest rate of incidences of gender-based violence in the world. However, reports consistently stress that sexual and gender based violence is not taken seriously by law enforcement. Amid the blatant sexism and displays of hyper-sexuality, the trafficking of sex slaves and forced prostitution is no secret.
Though the number of trafficked persons remains difficult to calculate, experts agree that Brazil’s human trafficking law is insufficient. Brazilian human trafficking law lags behind and is inconsistent with international standards. Prosecution for these crimes is low and the number of traffickers convicted is small because of poor investigation and corruption in the judicial sector.
Brazil has attempted to make some changes. In 2013, it announced a new plan to strengthen border security. In addition, Brazil has funded anti-trafficking campaigns in the lead up to 2016. Still, there is little evidence to suggest that these prevention efforts have been successful and support for victims is almost non-existent.
Read the full story by Emily Henry of The News Hub: Click Here

Good News on TPP: Senate Passes Fast Track Bill with Human Trafficking Poison Pill

Remember, passing Fast Track in the Senate was supposed to be the easy part. Not only did Fast Track get rejected on its first try — “Welcome aboard the S.S. Lame Duck, Mr. President!” — now we get this. Ryan Grim explains:

The Senate approved a bill to “fast-track” trade agreements negotiated by the president. The agreement will prevent Congress from amending or filibustering Obama’s controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The TPP deal would have a hard time surviving without fast-track authority.

But a key crackdown on human trafficking survived the legislative jujitsu. The White House considers the provision a deal-breaker, as it would force one of the nations involved in the TPP talks — Malaysia — out of the agreement.

From the US State Department:

Malaysia (Tier 3 [the worst]) is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. The overwhelming majority of trafficking victims are among the estimated two million documented and two million or more undocumented foreign workers in Malaysia.

Foreign workers typically migrate willingly to Malaysia from other countries in Asia—primarily Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Thailand, and Laos—in search of greater economic opportunities.

Here I pause to note that somebody decided that it would be a good idea for the US to take in the Rohingya, the Muslim boat people who have turned to traffickers to escape a slow motion Burmese genocide, after which the Malaysians offered temporary, one-year status to such Rohingya as actually reach their shores.

Some of the migrants subsequently encounter forced labor or debt bondage at the hands of their employers, employment agents, or informal labor recruiters. Many Malaysian recruitment companies, known as “outsourcing companies,” recruit workers from foreign countries. Contractor-based labor arrangements of this type—in which the worker may technically be employed by the recruiting company—create vulnerabilities for workers whose day-to-day employers generally are without legal responsibility for exploitative practices. In some cases, foreign workers’ vulnerability to exploitation is heightened when employers neglect to obtain proper documentation for workers or employ workers in sectors other than that for which they were granted an employment visa. In addition, a complex system of recruitment and contracting fees, often deducted from workers’ wages, makes workers vulnerable to debt bondage. A Malaysian government policy implemented in January 2013 that places the burden of paying immigration and employment authorization fees on foreign workers, rather than the employers, increased this risk.

(Sounds like the sort of labor market that only a neo-liberal could love, but I digress.) So, yes, the anti-trafficking provision — assuming it has teeth, and Malaysia can’t slip by with a wink and a promise — is indeed a poison pill; Malaysia can’t possibly qualify. The administration doesn’t like that, arguing that will push Malaysia into the open arms of the Chinese, with whom the Thai junta is already flirting, but I suppose if push came to shove, Obama could throw Malaysia under the bus. More pertinent is the procedural roadblock the Menendez amendment throws in Fast Track’s way. Back to Ryan Grim:

The slavery provision’s survival means that the House will either need to amend the bill and send it back to the Senate, which would cause a delay and complicate the House debate, or pass a bill and go to conference with the Senate, also causing a delay. It also potentially could be fixed in separate legislation otherwise moving through Congress. But time is not on the side of advocates of the trade agenda, as summer recess is approaching, followed by a heated presidential campaign season. “It leaves a substantial problem that no one’s sure how will be addressed,” said one senator.

Complicating any efforts to “fix” the bill, however, is the possibility of an alliance between feminist factions in the Democratic party, and Christianist factions among the Republicans, both of whom take strongly principled positions on human trafficking.

To read the full story by Lambert Strether: Click Here

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Art Exhibit Focuses on Human Trafficking

Freedom Expressions ATL exhibit at Hartsfield-Jackson

A new art exhibit at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport aims to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The exhibit, called “Freedom Expressions ATL,” features work by professional artists on display in the domestic terminal atrium. The Center for Civil and Human Rights coordinated the exhibit, which debuted Friday and runs through July 22.

With an art exhibit at an airport, “you reach a lot of different people,” said Sgt. Ernest Britton with the Atlanta Police Department’s child exploitation and online protection squad. “You reach people who may not otherwise realize there’s even a problem going on.”

Read the full story from Kelly Yamanouchi of the Atlanta Journal Constitution: Click Here

Heitkamp, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Identify, Protect Human Trafficking Victims

US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced bipartisan legislation to give health care providers – including doctors, nurses, and social workers – training to help identify and protect victims of human trafficking.

Heitkamp and Collins are working to give health providers across the country needed training on how to recognize, report, and potentially intervene when they see patients who are possible human trafficking victims. Recent studies suggest that nearly one-third of women trafficked in America saw a health care professional while they were still captive to these crimes. The Senators’ bill would expand on an existing pilot program to help provide training to a specific group of workers who are more likely to come across potential victims of human trafficking and help make sure the victims get the support they need. Across the country, approximately 400,000 domestic minors are involved in human trafficking – 80 percent of these victims are female.

Heitkamp and Collins’ Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act strengthens and expands an existing U.S. Health and Human Services pilot program that since September 2014 has trained health care providers to help identify and protect victims of human trafficking at six sites in five states across the country – including in New Town and Williston in North Dakota where nearly 60 health professionals have been trained. The bill will build off the pilot program to give more health care and related professionals across the country get the training by developing a national program for quality training; making sure these training efforts are adaptable, effective, and responsive to the needs of victims; and tracking these efforts nationally – so the programs can continue to develop and improve to best serve more victims and survivors of human trafficking.

To read the full press release: Click Here

From Brainy Tomes to Advocacy: Academy Joins Anti-Trafficking Fight

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For an international group of researchers and scholars, serving at the pleasure of popes had meant producing lots of papers on important topics. But with Pope Francis, they are moving from publication to advocacy.

To read more: Click Here

Free trade at the cost of human slavery?

By Sister Jeanne Christensen

I am deeply troubled by the recent turn of events in the Senate as the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill is debated. Initially, I was encouraged to see the Senate Finance Committee pass the No Fast Track for Human Traffickers amendment when it approved the current TPA legislation, the Congressional Bipartisan Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.

The No Fast Track for Human Traffickers amendment, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), received overwhelming bipartisan support and stipulates that the United States cannot enter into formal trade agreements with countries that the State Department identifies as Tier 3 in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. This means our trading partners have to take direct action to address labor and sex slavery within their borders. I applaud the amendment for valuing human life, dignity and ethical business practices over profit. This type of action signals to me that bipartisan work being done on human trafficking–including Senate approval of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act and the House’s passage of 12 human trafficking bills—is rooted in an ethical and moral commitment to human dignity that can be included in all legislation.

Will ethical and moral concerns be upheld by the senators, or might this end up being just lip service?  I raise this question because I am disturbed that corporate lobbyists and the Obama administration are now working to push the Senate to water down or completely strip the Menendez amendment. As written, the amendment complicates the finalization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership because Malaysia, one of the 12 governments negotiating the multinational trade agreement, is classified as a Tier 3 country in the U.S. State Department’s TIP Report. Instead of advancing international humanrights,willwe see the Senate disregard high standards for U.S. trading partners, to ensure access to cheaper manufacturing?  Are cheap products from unscrupulous governments worth more to us than ending modern-day slavery?As a Sister of Mercy, I have committed my life to standing in solidarity with persons who are vulnerable and suffering.  Last month, I joined Marlyn Capio-Richter, a remarkable Filipina woman who survived human trafficking, and Fr. Shay Cullen, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Columban priest, on Capitol Hill to deliver testimonyat a congressional briefing on human trafficking. I’ve also been encouraged listening to Pope Francis condemn this crime against humanity and cry out for each of us to eliminate slavery. I pray that all senators continue to demonstrate their moral commitment to this issue and preserve the Menendez amendment in the TPA legislation.

Christensen, a Sister of Mercy for 53 years, advocates on social justice issues. She is also a core member of the U.S. Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking and a member of the Coalition against Human Trafficking sponsored by the Western Missouri U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

This story originally appeared on May 16th in The Hill