Camden County Police Arrest Three for Human Trafficking in South Jersey
The recent arrest of a South Jersey man and two of his acquaintances on human trafficking charges for allegedly forcing a Texas woman to work in a strip club illustrates criminal activity that is a growing problem in New Jersey and in the United States.
Camden County authorities arrested three residents of Voorhees in mid-July of 2015 after a 20-year-old woman complained that the three had held her captive and forced her to work in a strip club.
The county prosecutors contend that the man lured the woman to South Jersey from Texas by offering her work as a model. When she arrived in Philadelphia, he allegedly took her to his apartment, took her money and cell phone from her, told her that she belonged to him and threatened her with harm if she tried to escape. He also allegedly forced her to work at a club called The Cove in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood for several days.
Initially, the young Texan balked when told to dance at the strip club, but two accomplices allegedly stripped her and forced her to dance partially nude. After several days of dancing at the strip club, the Texan escaped from an apartment in Voorhees where she was staying with the accomplices by outrunning the two captors and taking refuge in a nearby bank.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office has charged the South Jersey man with human trafficking and criminal sexual contact, and his bail has been set at $500,000. His accomplices have been charged with criminal restraint; their bail has been set at $25,000 each.
If the published accounts of the episode are accurate, prosecutors should have little difficulty proving the charge of human trafficking against the accused. To prove that claim under New Jersey’s human trafficking statute, they need only show that the defendant knowingly recruited, lured, enticed or transported the woman to engage in sexual activity by threatening serious bodily harm or by physical restraint. To prove the charge of criminal sexual contact, the prosecutors must prove that he had sexual contact with his captive by using physical force or coercion. If convicted on the human trafficking charge, the man faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
The case against the two accomplices is also straightforward as the prosecutors must prove only that the two women knowingly restrained the victim in such a way that exposed her to serious bodily injury or that they knowingly held her in a condition of involuntary servitude.
The trafficking charges are noteworthy because the victim was allegedly held captive in Voorhees, New Jersey, a bedroom suburb of Philadelphia that is better known for its tree-line streets than strip clubs. The location underscores the fact that trafficking knows no boundaries and is not only an urban problem.
Surge in Human Trafficking Cases
Aside from the suburban venue, the human trafficking charges against the accused are not unusual or unique. In fact, the case against the South Jersey man is typical of the trafficking cases nationwide. According to statistics compiled by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, most trafficking cases involve sex trafficking, as opposed to labor trafficking; most trafficking cases involve an adult victim, as opposed to a minor victim; most of the cases involve female victims, not male victims; and most of the cases involve victims who are U.S. citizens, not foreign nationals.
The case may be typical of the many trafficking cases brought each year by state authorities in New Jersey and by federal authorities in federal courts across the country, but it is also a part of a disturbing trend: The number of human trafficking cases brought in New Jersey courts and in federal courts has been increasing steadily over the past few years.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the number of trafficking cases filed in New Jersey increased from 73 in 2012, to 111 in 2013, and to 155 in 2014. In 2015, 40 trafficking cases have been reported to the Center to date. Of these 40 cases, 31 involved sex trafficking and five involved labor trafficking.
The number of trafficking cases brought by federal prosecutors has been increasing, too. According to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of State on human trafficking, federal prosecutors brought 208 federal human trafficking cases in 2014, in which they charged 335 individuals. The filings represent an increase from 2013 when the federal prosecutors brought 161 cases in which they charged 253 individuals.
If you or someone you know has been charged with trafficking, you should seek advice from a competent criminal lawyer.
Camden County Criminal Lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Represents those Charged with Human Trafficking
Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, provides zealous representation for people charged with criminal offenses or involved in trafficking cases. From her Westmont offices, she defends people in courts throughout New Jersey and in Philadelphia, fighting to ensure that those accused of human trafficking, assault, DWI, sex crimes, robbery, traffic violations and other offenses have their stories heard. For a free consultation, call or contact her online.