South Fla. customs chief arrested on child-porn charges

MIAMI — The head ofImmigration and Customs Enforcement for South Florida was arrested Tuesday after images of child pornography were allegedly found on his home computer, local media reported.

Anthony V. Mangione, 50, was arrested by U.S. marshals and taken to the Broward County Jail, according to jail records. He was expected to make an initial appearance in federal court on Wednesday.

Mangione was arrested on charges of possessing and distributing, authorities told The Miami Herald.

Federal officials remained tight-lipped about the arrest.

ICE officials referred questions to the Justice Department. A Justice Department official in Washington declined comment on the case. The U.S. Marshals Service did not return a call for comment.

Mangione has been on paid administrative leave since April when FBI agents searched his home and office as part of a child pornography investigation. Four images of child porn were found on his personal computer at his home in Parkland, The Miami Herald reported at the time.

The investigation continued and grew significantly over the summer, leading to the Internet-related, child-pornography charges being filed under seal, sources told The Miami Herald.

As special agent in charge of ICE’s South Florida office, Mangione has often praised the federal agency’s efforts to fight child porn.

“Too many children are victimized by predators that target the most vulnerable among us — our children,” Mangione said in a 2009 press release announcing the sentencing of a 20-year-old Palm Beach County man on child porn charges, according to the Herald.

In a 2008 press release announcing the sentencing of a Martin County man to 10 years for using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, Mangione was quoted as saying: “This case reveals the disturbing truth that child predators will go to great lengths to sexually exploit minors,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. “ICE is committed to identifying and arresting these individuals who seek to victimize children and help ensure that justice is served.”

Mangione’s area of command covered nine South Florida counties. He was responsible for overseeing investigations into drug smuggling, money laundering and financial crimes, commercial fraud, national security and cyber crimes, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Mangione was reportedly planning to retire this summer. He has served his entire federal career with ICE and its predecessor, the U.S. Customs Service, according to the Herald.

A call to Action!

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act expires soon and needs yo…ur support to ensure this landmark legislation is both improved and continues to ensure the rescue and support of victims of modern slavery. What can you do? Call or e-mail your U.S. representative. Urge them to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (H.R.2830). It’s easy to find your representative’s contact info at the top right corner of the House of Representatives website (http://www.house.gov/).  Here’s what you can say to their receptionists, aides or voicemails:
“My name is ___ and I live in your district. I’m calling to ask the congressman/congresswoman to co-sponsor H.R.2830, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). I also want to ask him/her to strengthen the act, by requiring major companies to disclose on their websites and in annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission what they’re doing to end trafficking and slavery. The congressman/congresswoman can do this by including provisions of H.R.2759, the Business Transparency on Slavery and Trafficking Act, into the TVPRA.”

FBI Finds 100,000 Child Porn Images on Suspect’s PC

A St. Petersburg man faces 15 counts of possession and transmission of the illicit materials.

  • A 43-year-old St. Petersburg man faces 15 counts of child pornography after authorities found more than 100,000 illicit images of minors on his computer.

    Jeffrey Todd Lobdell of 425 2nd St.  North, Apt. 28, was arrested Tuesday after the FBI and  detectives with the St. Petersburg Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit served a search warrant at his apartment.

    Lobdell was taken into custody after his computer and files were seized.

    Lobdell is being charged with 15 counts of possession  and/or transmission of child pornography. He will be booked into the Pinellas  County Jail.

    ByLinda Hersey

 

No room for fraud, waste in fight against human trafficking

It’s a crime so horrific it makes you shiver with anger. Though this nation  abolished slavery 150 years ago, human trafficking continues as a modern-day  slave trade.

Brutal criminals withhold passports and threaten workers and their families,  forcing them to provide their labor, often as prostitutes.

At least, human trafficking has gotten the attention of Congress, which  passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 to provide essential  services to victims and to prosecute their perpetrators.

However, Congress and the president have blindly thrown money at the problem,  resulting in waste, duplication and mismanagement.

The problem begins with the numbers. To gauge if our programs are working, we  need baseline statistics, but we have no idea how many trafficking victims there  are, much less what percentage we are rescuing.

A Government Accountability Office study found the numbers relied on by the  United States were developed by one person who did not document all of his work.  The numbers reflected methodological weaknesses, gaps in data and numerical  discrepancies. These figures are useless.

Estimates of the number of worldwide victims from both the public and private  sectors have ranged from 500,000 to 27 million.

Even one victim is too many, but juxtapose these staggering figures with the  numbers of victims rescued each year (380 in 2009), or the number of successful  prosecutions (47 in 2009), and it appears we are doing a very poor job fighting  this crime.

At the low end of victim estimates, we are saving 0.08 percent of victims; at  the high end, our heroism rates at 0.0014 percent. Yet we are spending over  $485,000 per victim saved, and almost $3.8 million per criminal convicted.

But even with those we are helping, our programs are marred with waste and  mismanagement. On the international side, the State Department has awarded  grants for creating a music video about trafficking, producing a 15-minute film,  developing a mobile application, and even one $115,000 grant for “no specific  project yet.”

Another grant spent $100,000 to assist only 24 women who are vulnerable to  being trafficked, but are not trafficking victims. Many of these grants are  duplicative of USAID’s trafficking grants. While the goals here may be  admirable, this money could be better spent.

Spending for domestic victims doesn’t paint a much brighter picture. The  departments of Justice and Health and Human Services both give out grants, often  to the same exact organizations for the same exact purpose.

This duplication of effort might not be so bad if these grants were actually  helping to solve the problem, but they aren’t.

Between April 2007 and March 2008, the DOJ Inspector General audited only  seven of the hundreds of trafficking grants, but found “significant  deficiencies” in each, some spending more than $700,000 in unallowable  expenditures, others serving far fewer victims than promised.

The grant recipients also spent wildly different amounts per victim, from a  low of $2,500 per victim to a high of $71,542.

Furthermore, many different U.S. agencies run trafficking public awareness  campaigns with no coordination among them. In the United States alone, separate  but duplicative ad campaigns are run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement,  Customs and Border Protection, and Health and Human Services.

It’s not as if these problems are new. In 2005, USAID was funding an  organization made up of brothel owners who were using U.S. tax money to bring  girls back to their brothels after they were rescued by law enforcement. We were  funding the traffickers themselves.

That should have been a wake-up call that more oversight is needed, a call we  should heed now before the situation grows even worse.

Russ Ferguson is a former federal prosecutor and former legislative  counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:  http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/2011/09/no-room-fraud-waste-fight-against-human-trafficking#ixzz1YW4R1TxF

The human cost of chocolate

It may be unthinkable that the chocolate we enjoy could come from the hands of children working as slaves. In Ivory Coast and other cocoa-producing countries, there are an estimated 100,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create the chocolate delicacies enjoyed by Western countries.

Ten years ago, two U.S. lawmakers took action to put a stop to child labor in the cocoa industry. Despite pushback from the industry, the Harkin-Engel Protocol, also known as the Cocoa Protocol, was signed into law on September 19, 2001.

On the 10th anniversary of the legislation, CNN takes a look at what effect this protocol has had on the cocoa industry. Here’s a primer on some of the major issues surrounding the issue of slave labor in the cocoa industry:

Where does cocoa come from?

Some 70 to 75 percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa, including the Ivory Coast, according to the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative.

Does Ivory Coast allow children to work on these farms?

No, child labor is illegal and since the implementation of the Cocoa Protocol in 2001, the chocolate industry along with governments and human rights groups have worked to end the practice. Yet, the U.S. State Department estimates more than 100,000 children are involved in the worst forms of child labor on cocoa farms throughout Ivory Coast. Some are the children of cocoa farmers but many other youths are smuggled into Ivory Coast from Mali and Burkina Faso to work on cocoa plantations, according to the International Labor Rights Forum.

What exactly is the “Cocoa Protocol”?

Ten years ago, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduced legislation mandating a labeling system for chocolate. After the industry raised concerns, a compromise was reached that required chocolate companies to voluntarily certify they had stopped the practice of child labor. The certification process would not involve labeling products “child-labor-free,” as initially proposed.

Instead, it calls for public reporting by African governments, establishment of an audit system and poverty remediation by 2005. The deadline had to be extended to 2008 (read Fortune Magazine’s report on the state of the protocol in 2008) and again to 2010. Today, many aid groups say some of the provisions have still not been met.

So has the Cocoa Protocol had any success in ending child labor in the cocoa industry in the past 10 years?

It’s hard to say. Ivory Coast has had further economic problems following its civil war from 2002 to 2004. Chocolate exporters and manufacturers say the war and its aftermath have hampered their efforts to eradicate child labor.

“Honestly, it’s hard to see anybody saying that this protocol has attained the goals that were set out in it,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor rights forum

Chris Bayer, a Tulane University researcher, spent five years in the Ivory Coast and Ghana monitoring the protocol’s plan and studying the scope of the problem.

“Unfortunately, over the last 10 years we have seen very little implementation of the actual commitments,” he said. “Industry did not live up to the Harkin-Engel protocol. The issues are systemic. Children are still working.”

The International Cocoa Initiative was set up by the protocol to bring all parties together to address the worst forms of child labor in the supply chain. The ICI board has representatives from the major cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturers. It says progress is being made.

“Five of the six commitments made in the protocol have been completed,” the group said in an e-mail statement. “And governments of cocoa producing countries, ILO, the OECD, independent foundations, members of the cocoa supply chain and ICI itself are ACTIVELY working on the sixth commitment – to improve the livelihoods of cocoa growers the infrastructure in cocoa communities farmers organizations, educational facilities etc. Substantial funds are being expended on these activities.”

http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/19/the-human-cost-of-chocolate/?hpt=wo_t4

Ten Years, Little Progress: As Profits Soar, Chocolate Industry Fails to Deliver on Promises to End Forced and Child Labor on Cocoa Farms

A Decade Later, Hershey Lags Behind in Eliminating Abuses in its Chocolate

Washington, DC – September 19, 2011 — On the tenth anniversary of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, Global Exchange, Green America, and International Labor Rights Forum issued the following statement:

“Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement signed by the country’s largest chocolate companies to put an end to forced child labor in their cocoa supply chains by July of 2005.  Chocolate companies committed to this voluntary agreement in lieu of legislation that would have required all chocolate companies to adopt a ‘slave-free’ labeling system.

However, six years after the industry’s initial deadline, and ten years since chocolate manufacturers committed to taking action on this issue, hundreds of thousands of children are still subject to the worst forms of child labor on West African cocoa farms.  At the same time, according the USDA Economic Research Service, cocoa imports to the US have soared to 1,222,300 metric tons (up from 999,600 in 2001), and cocoa imports to the US are now valued at $4.3 billion.

With 1.8 million children still working in the West African cocoa sector, there continues to be urgent need for programs to immediately withdraw child victims from labor and provide them with remediation and an education. Senator Harkin and Representative Engel, working with the US Department of Labor, have played an important role in seeking to ensure that programs to help the victims of child labor are financially supported. More recently, they have been working to increase US investment in rescue and remediation programs that play an important role in helping the victims of abuse. While vital, remediation programs are not a complete solution; the chocolate companies must responsibly source their cocoa and address the root causes of labor rights issues in the industry.

According to a report published by the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University, under a contract from the US Department of Labor (DOL), hundreds of thousands of children continue to work long hours on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The report, published earlier this year, noted that industry-funded initiatives have had a limited impact to date, and that less than 5 percent of children and caregivers reported having been exposed to child labor remediation services.  The report states that one of most effective ways to eliminate forced and child labor in cocoa production is through the use of independent, third party certification systems such as Fairtrade (as opposed to first party company efforts).

Six years past the deadline, very few chocolate companies have taken substantial steps to remove child labor from their cocoa supply chains and adopt third party certifications for their cocoa. Some companies, such as Nestlé and Cadbury, have begun to source a small percent of their product line under Fairtrade standards, which ensure a fair price for farmers; though none of these products are currently available to US consumers.  The Mars Company has made a commitment to shift to entirely sustainable supplies of cocoa by 2020. Hershey ranks at the bottom of the list, with no independently certified cocoa in its main product lines, no systems in place to publicly trace its cocoa, and no commitments to shift to third party certification systems. At the same time, Hershey reported earning record profits in 2010, and forecasts continued growth for 2011.  While the major chocolate companies drag their heels in adopting third party certifications, a growing number of smaller chocolate companies in the US are adopting Fairtrade standards for their chocolate.

Pressure for companies to source child labor free cocoa is mounting, from both consumers and legislators.  Cocoa from five West African nations is on the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.  Additionally, the DOL included cocoa from Côte D’Ivoire and Nigeria on a separate list of goods believed to be produced by abusive labor conditions required under Executive Order 13126. According to the order, federal contractors who supply products on the list must certify that they have made a good faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured child labor was used to produce the items listed.  Third party certification systems, such as Fairtrade, would help to ensure compliance with this regulation.

Last year, the Netherlands signed a letter of intent committing that by 2025, 100 percent of cocoa consumed in the Dutch market would be ‘guaranteed sustainable,’ with interim goals set for 2012, 2015, and 2020.  While the US has yet to enforce such a strong commitment to ethical cocoa, consumer demand is beginning to move the industry in that direction.

Last week, a report pressuring Hershey to go Fairtrade (Time to Raise the Bar: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company) called out Hershey as the laggard of the industry and reported that more than 50,000 consumers have written to the company to ‘raise the bar’ for responsible cocoa sourcing.

Despite falling short of eliminating child labor from the West African cocoa industry, large US chocolate manufacturers can still make a difference in the lives of children in cocoa-growing communities by committing to begin sourcing Fairtrade cocoa, which ensures farmers are paid a better price for their beans and that processes are in place to remove children from hazardous working conditions.”

GLOBAL EXCHANGE is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. http://www.GlobalExchange.org

GREEN AMERICA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. http://www.greenamerica.org

INTERNATIONAL LABOR RIGHTS FORUM is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. http://www.LaborRights.org

Media contact:  Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or landerson[at]hastingsgroup.com.

Police raid sex church in Arizona

Published: Sept. 9, 2011 at 11:46 AM
 PHOENIX, Sept. 9 (UPI) — The founder of an Arizona sex church and 17 others  have been arrested on a variety of prostitution-related charges, officials  said.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the Phoenix Goddess Temple  raided by police “was no more a church than Cuba is Fantasy Island,” The Arizona  Republic of Phoenix reported Friday.

The temple’s religious tenets connect spirituality and sexuality, its Web  site says.

Online ads for the temple offered “sensual worship” for $204 an hour and  promoted the “Very Erotic Priestess Sophia.”

Founder Tracy Elise, 50, who called herself the temple’s “Mystic Mother,”  faces charges of prostitution, illegal control of an enterprise, pandering and  operating a house of prostitution.

Acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said it is “particularly disheartening  that some would attempt to disguise their crimes as religious freedom.”

Montgomery said his office worked with vice squad detectives from Phoenix for  six months to indict 33 people associated with the temple.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/09/09/Police-raid-sex-church-in-Arizona/UPI-14141315583185/#ixzz1XlrTMx7l