By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, February 3, 2017, the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force hosted the Human Trafficking Summit in Montgomery to educate social workers and Law Enforcement officers about the growing human trafficking problem in the US.
Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Richard Love (ret) spent a career investigating and prosecuting people who traffic in children for sex, including going undercover as a pimp
Detective Love said that one child prostitute can generate $150,000 to $300,000 in revenue none of which she or he will get to keep. The girl may service 20 buyers in a day.
Love said that pimp is simply the acronym for Prostitute In My Possession. Pimps give the girl a quota and will punish the girl that does not meet her quota.
Love said that the Trafficking Victims Protection Act makes the recruitment harboring transportation provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force though proving that force was used is not a requirement under the Federal statute.
Det. Love said that when investigating trafficking our number one concern is the survivor – the children. In their mind they know that they have been sexually abused. I care more about the children we were able to save than getting the conviction of the traffickers. “We have taken care of the child that is part of our responsibility as human beings.”
Love said that girls who are trafficked become numb to the situation around them. They become desensitized. When we rescue them we have to teach them You do mean something you do have a place in this world. Some children are forced. Where the pimp gets control using: food, housing, everyday needs. The compliant child goes along because these are receiving some sort of benefit from the pimp.
The child prostitute can be male or female though 95 percent are American girls. The average age is between 13 and 17 years of age. Many are high risk, come from troubled homes or are foster youths. Particularly vulnerable are runaways, foster children and homeless children. They are particularly vulnerable. 41.4 percent are repeat runaways 46.7 percent are from foster homes. Many come from stable middle class homes (there are problems going on in that home) they are looking for something better, escape current situation, looking for someone who cares, love, fame, or money.
Love said that pimps are expert at talking to children. The pimp knows the latest music, the latest clothes that children want. Once trafficked Victims suffer from: inhumane living conditions, poor sanitation, inadequate nutrition,, poor personal hygiene, brutal physical and emotional abuse, dangerous workplace conditions working the streets (they do not know the individual, the car, or the motel they are going to), and a general lack of quality medical care.
Love said that in pimp culture the focus is not about the child but about how much the child can earn for the pimp. There are different types of pimps: the gorilla, the Romeo, the finesse pimp, the family member, and the boyfriend.
Gangs are very involved in human trafficking. If you have gangs in your area, I guarantee you that you have child prostitution. You can sell that cocaine or marijuana one time but you can sell that child over and over again.
Det. Love said that pimps will typically use trauma to enforce their will. Those include: beating/slapping, beating with objects (bat, tools, chains, belts, hangers, canes, chords), burning, sexual assault, rape/gang rape, confinement/locked in, torture practices, seasoning initiation.
Commonly punishments will involve cigarette burn on the back of the neck, between the toes, places that you can’t see, because the pimp doesn’t want to devalue the product. Holding her head under water in the bath tub or a toilet is another commonly used tactic. Fear of drowning is a very scary feeling. The abuse is done to get a response. If a girl gets pregnant, then the baby is a controlling apparatus. You won’t make money for me you won’t see the child.
Detective Love said that the pimp subculture has its own language and terminology. The term “daddy” refers to one’s own pimp. The “bottom” or “bottom bitch” is the woman who’s been with the pimp the longest and often takes on a mid-level controlling role to keep other victims in line. The terms: “dates” “johns” and “tricks” terms are used to describe buyers of commercial sex. “Square” is trying to go straight. The “stroll” or “track” is the common area or cross-streets where street prostitution is known to occur on a nightly basis. A “pimp circle” is the process of multiple pimps swarming and surrounding one woman or girl and hissing insults at her for the purpose of humiliation and intimidation. Her pimp then arrives and rescues the girl from the staged situation to establish the idea that he is her protector. A “wife in law” is each individual in a group of women or girls that are with the same pimp. “Family”, “folks”, or “stable” refers to the group of women and girls under a pimp’s control. “Out of pocket” is a term used to describe when a woman or girl breaks “the rules” by making eye contact with another pimp it is a no no for a ho to look in the eyes of another pimp.
For recruiting, pimps go to the bus stations watching for children getting off the bus. The pimp or other kids recruit from bus stations, at the mall, or at Amtrak stations. Much recruiting has moved to the internet. Technology is the greatest facilitator of child sex ever. Pimps use it to befriend children and it is also used to find buyers of children for sex. You just post an ad online and wait for calls. Det. Love said, “Any device with internet access is a danger to children. Pimps are using the internet to recruit children.” Actual talent agencies don’t put ads on Craig’s List looking for models. Those are pimps recruiting.
Typical trafficking locations include motels, hotels, adult entertainment clubs, bus stations, casinos, the internet through technology, massage parlors (especially the Asian massage parlors)
Det. Love said that there are males also being trafficked but it is usually in a different arena.
There are young males walking the streets, they call it survival sex. The majority of the time it is not under the recruitment of a pimp, they are doing it themselves.
Det. Love said that pimps do give these children drugs; but typically are not giving them so much that they can’t go out and get money for the pimp.
Most pimps are Black males. We are seeing an increase with younger White males being involved in pimping particularly on college campuses and in the high schools. In the Asian community you have Asians pimping out girls.
Greg Zarzaur is a lawyer who is suing backpage.com on behalf of a trafficking victim. What role do dating sites and adult sites that make money selling ads to pimps have in the trafficking business and can they be held liable?
Patrick Gage’s family was in hotel business from the 1960s to 2016. His family owned Carlson hotels which owned both the Raddison Hotels and Country Inn chains. Gage said that prostitution has been illegal in the US for 100 years. Trafficking and prostitution has moved into hotels. It has become part of the fabric of our industry.
Gage said that his great aunt looked into how Carlson can fight trafficking. Hotel clerks see who is coming in the doors. The maids clean up the rooms and know what is going on in the rooms. Gage said that things to look for include: paying for room with cash or a prepaid card; extended stay but have no luggage; excessive foot traffic in and out of the room; frequently requesting new towels and linens; submissive behavior; requesting information about the local sex industry; and when you clean the room there is sex paraphernalia (like used condoms) all over the room.
In response to a question from the audience, Gage said yes there are people in the hospitality business who are using their hotels for trafficking. In a chain you should remove that franchisee immediately. That does happen, but I don’t know how common that is.
Chris and Anna Smith told the group about the home for sex trafficked boys that they have started in North Carolina, Restore One.
The state Human Trafficking Task Force is looking at how state and local government can battle human trafficking. State Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia) chairs the task force. He addressed the group that morning.
Human trafficking is the second largest criminal activity in the world, trailing only drugs. It is estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked in the US each year.