LONDON—An investigation by the UK newspaper The Guardian has revealed that a six-month-long investigation by all 55 UK police forces and other government and non-governmental agencies found not one single woman trafficked into prostitution—a result that casts doubt on other similar trafficking claims in the U.S..
After months of trying to obtain the records for "Operation Pentameter Two," which officials claimed had seriously disrupted organized crime networks responsible for human trafficking, The Guardian found that of 822 brothels and massage parlors raided in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and 528 "criminals" arrested during the operation, none were convicted of "use of coercion or deceit to transport an unwilling man or woman into prostitution"—the internationally-accepted definition of sex trafficking.
Ten, however, were convicted under the UK's Sexual Offenses Act of 2003, which criminalizes transporting men or women, including willing sex workers, into prostitution, though without the coercive element. Authorities also took credit for successfully prosecuting another five actual sex traffickers—except that none of them had been arrested under the Pentameter program: Two were arrested seven months before the operation started, while the other three had been arrested and charged as the result of another investigation which had begun a full year earlier.
And as for the other 513 arrested "traffickers"? Turns out 122 of those "arrests" never happened; they were the result of either "honest bureaucratic error" or "apparent deceit by forces trying to chalk up arrests which they had not made," according to The Guardian story. Of the other 391 actual arrests, 153 were released without charges, and most of the remainder, about half of which were women, were not even accused of trafficking. Seventy-three were charged with immigration violations, 76 were convicted of non-trafficking offenses like drugs, managing brothels, being drivers for prostitutes, while most of the rest either died, jumped bail or simply disappeared off police records.
In the end, just 22 people were prosecuted for trafficking, including two women who were originally classified as "victims" of traffickers, and seven of those were acquitted outright. The remaining 15, as noted above, either didn't fit the definition of a trafficker, or had been arrested or under surveillance before Pentameter commenced.
Certainly, those results are at odds with claims from the UK Human Trafficking Centre, a data repository and support group, which in May said that conservative estimates suggested that there are at least 5,000 trafficking victims in the UK alone, and that between 100,000 and 800,000 are trafficked into the European Union each year.
Anti-porn crusader Rahila Gupta took The Guardian's article to task as "a clever piece of sophistry that suggests trafficking does not exist," but Gupta's piece is practically devoid of statistical evidence. However, she quotes police investigator Peter Spindler, who had been part of a previous operation, Paladin, which targeted trafficked prostitutes, who attempted to explain Pentameter's lack of success by claiming that actual trafficking for sex is "so complicated to prove... The problem with trafficking is that you've got to prove exploitation."
However, on Tuesday, The Guardian's investigative reporter Nick Davies wrote an extensive analysis of how sex trafficking figures have been both wildly exaggerated and outright invented by religious groups and publicity-seeking politicians, resulting in shock headlines like the Daily Mirror's "25,000 Sex Slaves on the Streets of Britain."
Closer to home, AVN attended the 7th Preventing Abuse Conference on Human Trafficking, Internet, Pornography and Child Abduction held on Sept. 11-12 in Irvine, Calif.. The event was chaired by former LA Vice detective Tony Nassif, who claimed that witchcraft was being used to control women who had been coerced into prostitution; that "harder, harder and more deviant" porn was the cause of 300,000 to 400,000 children being "sucked into prostitution," and that the "breakdown of the traditional family" was part of a "Satanic ruse," whose followers were "extremists using porn to encrypt and transmit messages" to both drug smugglers and human traffickers.
Nassif's assessment was backed up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Ken Schaeffer, who said of traffickers, "These people are animals" who use witchcraft to bind trafficked women into brothels, and ex-CIA intelligence officer "Baz," who claimed that "government officials get apathetic when their hands are continually tied."
However, just two "trafficking victims" appeared at the conference—one by webcam—as well as the mother of an alleged trafficked child, and at least two of their stories were simply incredible.
The "victim" who appeared live was Theresa Flores, who claimed to have been drugged by a schoolmate—Flores was 15 at the time—taken back to his house and raped while the rapist's brother took pictures. The schoolmate then allegedly used the photos to blackmail Flores into committing more sexual acts, which generally included being raped by three or four boys three or four nights per week.
Supposedly, Flores couldn't tell her parents (who for some reason never caught her sneaking out of the house night after night for over two years) about any of this because they were Catholics and had threatened to disown her if she ever became pregnant, and because the rapist had threatened to show the incriminating photos to Flores' father and his boss if she squealed.
"I essentially became a middle-class teenage sex slave," Flores told the roughly 200 attendees at the conference, adding that she had been forced to have sex with "hundreds of men," was tied up and beaten if she failed to perform adequately, and at one point was sold at a "sex auction" to the highest bidder—all of which, of course, was described in great detail in her book, The Sacred Bath: An American Teen's Story of Modern Day Slavery.
Flores even told of having been picked up by police for curfew violations one night and delivered home (where her parents were "furious"), but not only did she not relate her tragic story to the cop, she said her rapists tore up the cop's business card and shot her dog in order to keep her in line. She finally "escaped" when the family had to move because her father was transferred to another state for work. Even to this day, despite knowing where her original rapist lived, she has not sought his prosecution because "they could still find me."
The next speaker was Des Moines resident Noreen Gosch, mother of 12-year-old Johnny, who allegedly was Tasered and kidnapped off the street by a pair of child sex slave traffickers while attending to his paper route sometime in the mid-1980s.
According to Gosch, when she reported the incident to the local police, they said the kid was a runaway, and she further claimed that even the FBI wouldn't help her track her son down because the local police chief had warned them off the case.
But wait; it gets better.
Gosch held her own press conference about the incident, after which she claims she received numerous death threats, but which led her to find out that there had been other child abductions in the city as part of a child sex-trafficking ring operating out of Omaha, and the fact that the abductions hadn't been reported in the newspapers was part of the "Franklin cover-up."
Seems this child sex ring flew these kidnapped children in private planes around the country, including to Washington, D.C., to have sex with pedophiles, all of which was orchestrated by a "Republican bigwig" with a cocaine habit—and of course, there were plenty of photos taken of the sexual activity.
Gosch knows about the photos because in 2006, someone left an envelope at her front door containing a CD with photos of a tied-and-gagged Johnny dated two or three days after the kidnapping... as well as about 500 additional photos of Johnny and other kids having sex. She also found a Russian website with more photos of Johnny, and at some point, two large bags of similar photos were discovered somewhere in Des Moines—but of course, no one did anything about it because, she said, four local doctors and a judge were involved in the kidnap/sex plot. ("People in high places—their names would astound you!") She also came to learn that Johnny's photos were on a computer owned by a pedophile in Reston, Virginia, but no one did anything about that either.
Not only does Gosh have a book—Why Johnny Can't Come Home—but also a foundation whose website has a video, "Conspiracy of Silence," which has been "Banned by U.S. Congress."
Anti-porn activist Shelly Lubben also spoke at the conference—about women forced to perform in porn videos, natch—as did former Meese Commission "researcher" Dr. Judith Reisman... but they're another story for another day.
For now, just know, as Nassif told the conference attendees, "This is not guys with a screwed-up gene... This is Satanic, demonic evil."