Police say prostitution ring operated out of South Tampa house

By Jessica Vander Velde, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, August 26, 2011


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Charles M. Fox, 37, faces an array of sex charges, with additional charges possible.Police say a man ran a sex operation in this home at Euclid Avenue and Renellie Circle using a laptop and disposable phone.
 
Charles M. Fox, 37, faces an array of sex charges, with additional charges possible.

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TAMPA — Charles Fox was the king of his little green house.

In the middle of South Tampa, police say, he ruled a home packed with young women he recruited from bars and restaurants, including Hooters and Applebee’s.

Online, in escort ads, he posted pictures of them in lingerie. Guaranteed you won’t be disappointed. Then he went to Walmart and packed purses with condoms and hygiene items. He told them how much to charge for sex.

And, police say, he took every cent.

For two years, police tracked suspected pimp Charles M. Fox, 37. Detectives watched him drive young women to West­shore area hotels, waiting outside to collect the cash.

Last month, police arrested him at the Intercontinental Hotel, where they had orchestrated a sting.

Fox was charged with five counts of sex trafficking, four counts of forcing another to become a prostitute, four counts of deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, five counts of unlawful use of a two-way communications device, four counts of renting space for the purpose of prostitution and two counts of sexual battery.

He remained in jail Thursday. Prosecutors say they’re reviewing additional charges.

Fox came to Florida four years ago with an armed robbery conviction and prison time in his past. He bought a 2005 Yukon Denali with darkened windows and flashy chrome rims, and he rented a home at Euclid Avenue and Renellie Circle.

Fox ran the operation with a compact laptop and disposable phone, according to police. He told the women: Make client undress first, take cash upfront.

He recruited them through lies and kept them with intimidation, according to the women’s statements laid out in several police reports.

A few women told police he promised money. One said Fox told her she’d live the “good life.”

One woman known as “Jayda” told police she met Fox at Ybor City’s Club Skye in January 2010. He persuaded her to move into his house and promised to help her fight a custody case.

But within a week, he had persuaded her to prostitute for him, police records state.

She later told police that he didn’t allow her contact with friends and monitored everything she did. He suggested she get his nickname — Boogy — tattooed on her left hip so she’d be branded, police wrote.

One time he beat her and tied her up, she told police. They took photos of rope burns.

Fox kept other women working with Xanax, alcohol and marijuana, according to the report. He also threatened them, and talk of his violence traveled through the group.

One woman told police Fox regularly beat her, and she often had sex with him against her will.

One woman said she made $18,000 in a month. Another said she averaged $28,000 a month.

Boogy kept it rolled up in $1,000 wads, one of them always in his pocket, police wrote. He told one woman where to find bail money, just in case.

Times staff writer Stephanie Bolling and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

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Special visas fast-track illegal immigrants to residency

By MICHAEL MATZA
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Published:  Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 –  1:00 am

PHILADELPHIA —     The federal government has  an unusual fast track to legal residency for illegal immigrants.

     Antonio Luna’s ticket was a bullet in the back.

     The 30-year-old Mexican, who slipped into the United States in 2000, was  delivering pizza to a narrow South Philadelphia street on a night two summers  ago.   

         The customer on the steps, in a hat raked low, took his time paying  – time enough for another man to leap from between parked cars and thrust a gun  against Luna’s forehead.

     Luna gave up the food, his cellphone, and $140. The first man ransacked  his car; the gunman forced him to the ground. “He told me, ‘If you want to run,  run,’ ” Luna recounted recently. “I didn’t have a chance because he shot me” in  the lower back.

     Gushing blood, howling in pain, thinking he might die, Luna never  imagined how the assault would better not only his life, but also that of his  wife and two children.

     The next morning, detectives came to his bed at Thomas Jefferson  University Hospital. They told him they did not care about his immigration  status. They just wanted his help. He immediately picked the gunman from a book  of mug shots. Police made the arrest that night.

     For aiding the investigation, Luna got a reward: a “U visa.”

     It grants residency to illegal immigrants who have been victims of  violence and cooperate with law enforcement. That could range from giving  information to police to testifying at trial.

     A U visa includes a work permit good for four years. After three years,  the victim can apply for a green card, allowing permanent work-authorization and  residency.

     In the nearly three years that U visas have been available, about 25,000  victims and 19,000 relatives have received them. The number living in the  Philadelphia area was not immediately available from U.S. Citizenship and  Immigration Services.

     Lawyers who represent illegal immigrants say their risk of abuse,  exploitation and victimization is high because they fear deportation if they  report a crime.

     For years, Luna had tried to live small, to avoid notice.

     After he was shot, his application for a U visa was guided by Brenda  Gorski, a lawyer at Philadelphia’s pro-immigrant Nationalities Services Center.  Instead of dying, he said, he was “reborn.” Because U visas are “derivative” –  they include immediate family members – his wife, Beatriz, 27, mother of their  two U.S.-born children, became a legal resident, too.

     Congress created not only U visas, but also T visas, for victims of  human trafficking.

     The government defines that crime as enslavement, in which the  trafficker uses fraud or coercion to recruit people for forced labor and, often,  sexual exploitation.

     Immigration experts differentiate between human trafficking and human  smuggling. A smuggled person consents to being spirited over the border and goes  free in America. But trafficked victims are bound to their traffickers, who  ensure their dependency by taking their money and identification. They are  forced to work at menial jobs, typically nail salons and massage parlors, and  are under constant surveillance. If they try to escape, they are beaten or  blackmailed.

     “If victims come forward, there is the possibility of relief. We don’t  want them to stand in the shadows anymore,” said Tony Bryson, director of U.S.  Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Philadelphia, which recently held a  daylong training about U and T visas for police and advocacy groups.

     Up to 10,000 U visas may be issued annually, with no limit for immediate  family members. The annual cap on T visas is 5,000, but fewer than 450 have ever  been approved in a single year, because so few trafficking victims are willing  to apply.

     They fear reprisals not only against themselves; trafficking networks  routinely make threats against family members still in the homeland.

     As a result, the T-visa program is “woefully undersubscribed,” said Rose  Hartmann, a federal immigration officer who attended the recent Philadelphia  training.

     Groups urging restrictions on illegal immigration, including the  Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration  Studies, contend that U and T visas make the immigration system too generous by  handing out work permits at a time when the country lacks jobs for its citizens.  And the lure of a green card, they say, can entice some immigrants to report  bogus crimes.

     Immigrant advocates say the number of green cards granted under the U  and T programs is a mere fraction of the million cards issued annually.  Immigrants who file false reports or commit perjury, they note, are subject to  prosecution and deportation.

     All applications are channeled to the USCIS service center in  Burlington, Vt., where 73 adjudications officers and supervisors authenticate  them. Supporting paperwork usually includes medical and police reports, as well  as the law enforcement letter certifying cooperation.

 

 

     A federal trial set for next month in Philadelphia holds the possibility  of T visas for victims of trafficking.

     The case involves five brothers from Ukraine, ages 35 to 51, known to  prosecutors as “the Botsvynyuk boys.” Last summer, they were charged with  forcing about 30 illegal immigrants to work as virtual slaves from 2000 to 2007  cleaning department stores and supermarkets in the Philadelphia area.

     According to the indictment, the brothers promised the immigrants they  would earn $500 a month, with free room and board. Instead, they slept five to a  room on dirty mattresses, worked for little or nothing, were told they had to  pay off transportation costs of $10,000 to $50,000. They were beaten, and a  female victim repeatedly raped.

     Violence was threatened against family still living in Ukraine, the  indictment said. For instance, one brother said he would place a worker’s  9-year-old daughter into prostitution to pay off the family debt.

     Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in  Philadelphia, said the immigrant workers have remained in Philadelphia and might  be called to testify at trial. Their cooperation could make them eligible for T  visas.

 

     As part of a T-visa awareness campaign launched last month, the federal  government produced two provocative one-minute public service videos about  sexual slavery and forced labor.

     The videos, airing nationally in Spanish and English markets, encourage  viewers to report suspicious activity in the hope, said U.S. Immigration and  Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Kumar Kibble, of reaching “victims who have  endured so much pain.”

          (Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Juliana Schatz contributed to  this report.)

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/08/28/3867256/special-visas-fast-track-illegal.html#ixzz1WXvqqur8

What the World Is Doing To Prevent Human Trafficking and Slavery

Human trafficking and slave labor is a $32 billion underground industry,  according to a CNBC  documentary. There is, however, something being done to prevent that saddest  of industries. Both California and the EU passed laws to prevent human  trafficking during the last two years. Then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California Supply Chain Transparency Act into law on  September  30, 2010. The Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2012,  requires retailers and manufacturers in California to disclose their efforts to  stop human trafficking and slave labor from their direct supply chains. The law  affects retailers or manufacturers with over $100 million in annual worldwide  gross receipts.

The Act created an Interagency Task Force to monitor and combat trafficking.  In addition, the Act requires the California Franchise Tax Board to make  available a list of retailers and sellers to the State Attorney General required  to disclose efforts to stop slavery and human trafficking.

EU directive to prevent human trafficking and slavery

The EU adopted a directive to prevent and combat human trafficking and  protect victims in April 2011. Cecilia Malmstrom, Commissioner for Home Affairs,  called the passage of the directive “a very important step towards a  comprehensive and more effective European anti-trafficking policy.”

 

Malmstrom added, “The new ambitious rules adopted today  will keep the EU at the forefront of the international fight against human  trafficking by protecting the victims and punishing the criminals behind this  modern slavery.”

UN Human Rights Council issues updated Guiding Principles for  Business and Human Rights

The UN Human Rights Council issued an updated version in June of the Guiding  Principles for Business and Human Rights. The updated Guiding Principles  provides a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of impacts on  human rights linked to business activity, according to a press release.

“The Council’s endorsement establishes the Guiding Principles as the  authoritative global reference point for business and human rights,” said John  Ruggie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human  Rights. “They will also provide civil society, investors and others the tools to  measure real progress in the daily lives of people.”

Ruggie, a professor at Harvard  University, spent six years doing research  for the Guiding Principles

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/what-the-world-is-doing-to-prevent-human-trafficking-and-slavery.html#ixzz1WXvFXKTy

My Word by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: Let’s put an end to modern-day slavery

By Marco Rubio
12:00 a.m. EDT, August 16, 2011

Even as America grapples with a struggling economy and growing debt, we must not lose sight of our responsibility to protect and be a voice for the powerless.

Too many of our fellow humans are being exploited as part of the trafficking trade, a cruel form of modern-day slavery. Some are men, but most are women and children being abused and robbed of their dignity.

While the recent U.S. State Department’s “Annual Trafficking in Persons Report” highlighted how pervasive this practice is worldwide, many of these victims are also in our own communities, as about 17,000 new victims are trafficked in the U.S. annually.

In Florida, Miami, Orlando and Tampa have become main transit points. Just last month, 12 Floridians were accused of sex trafficking after two 15-year old girls from Highlands County ran away to Orlando, met a couple of men who drugged and raped them. Other men also raped the victims. One of them was then forced into prostitution in Miami.

Fortunately, victims have many key allies. Today in Orlando, a committed group of Florida-based and national activists is convening the 8th National and International Preventing Abuse Conference, which is raising awareness about this human tragedy and developing innovative ways to combat it. Groups like the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking are doing commendable work that exemplifies our calling to help victims of such unspeakable atrocities.

At the federal level, a groundbreaking human-trafficking law enacted in 2000 was the first slavery-related legislation passed since the Civil War ended. Among other goals, it required the State Department to evaluate countries on efforts to fight this problem and highlight needed improvements. This law now needs to be re-authorized before it expires at year’s end.

I am co-sponsoring the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which would build on the earlier version and enhance our capabilities to support law enforcement, assist victims and maximize government resources to combat this horrendous crime at home and abroad.

We are a compassionate nation, which understands that our most fundamental freedoms are universal rights. Our words must make this unmistakably clear, but our deeds must back them up. Our laws must be updated to protect victims and improve government’s ability to combat modern-day slavery. We must continue raising awareness to enlist support to stop this abuse.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was elected in 2010.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-sex-trafficking-myword-081611-20110815,0,3401904.story