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June 2020

By: Beau Evans Capitol Beat News Service June 20, 2020

ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate has passed legislation that would punish convicted human traffickers who transport victims via commercial vehicles by banning them from obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

House Bill 823, sponsored by Rep. Houston Gaines, would impose a lifetime ban on driving a commercial vehicle for persons convicted of human trafficking-related offenses. The ban would apply only to people who used commercial vehicles to traffic victims.

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and heads back to the House for final approval since it was tweaked recently. It cleared the House by a unanimous vote in March.

Gaines, R-Athens, said in March the bill would go a long way toward reversing Georgia’s status as a state with one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the nation.

Sen. John Albers echoed that sentiment from the Senate floor Thursday, noting it makes sense to take driver’s licenses away from those who use vehicles for human trafficking.

“The punishment certainly will fit the crime,” said Albers, R-Roswell.

Passing the bill is a win for Gov. Brian Kemp, who made legislation targeting human trafficking a top priority for his administration and allies in the 2020 legislative session. He previously tapped his wife, first lady Marty Kemp, to head a newly formed state commission to tackle human trafficking.

A separate measure on human trafficking, Senate Bill 435, is now winding through the state House. It passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Thursday and now heads to the House floor. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland, would let victims petition the court to vacate convictions for crimes committed while they were being trafficked.

Strickland, R-McDonough, said the measure would help victims overcome legal problems that linger after they are no longer being trafficked.

“The biggest hurdle they have outside of the emotional impact … is trying to get employment,” Strickland said.

Albany Herald.com / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Phoebe Tollefson June 09, 2020

A 47-year-old Billings man is being held in jail on allegations he tried to sexually traffic a minor, received child pornography and made so-called animal crush videos. 

Brandon Frank Stricker pleaded not guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court to eight counts, carrying a combined total mandatory minimum of 55 years in prison.

Billings Gazette / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Phoebe Tollefson June 13, 2020

Prosecutors have filed a total of 16 sex trafficking charges in federal court in Billings.

The two cases, each involving multiple defendants, list a total of 18 female victims allegedly forced or coerced into commercial sex work, although it was not immediately clear whether the two cases shared victims.

In one case, William Maurice Newkirk, Djavon Lamont King, and Mario Juan Drake are accused of trafficking seven female victims in the Billings area. Newkirk is accused of trafficking one victim between Montana and Wyoming. 

William Newkirk
Djavon King

Billings Gazette / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Paul Hamby June 11, 2020

A Billings woman faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after she pleaded guilty Thursday to taking three people to a bus station in town for a trip to Georgia to engage in commercial sex.

Destiny Lachelle Nilsen, 26, changed her plea to charges of transportation of a person with the intent to engage in prostitution following her arrest with three others in March. The arrests involved the alleged coercion of 18 women into commercial sex work. Louis Gregory Venning, a co-defendant in Nilsen’s case, is accused of trafficking nine women in Montana, Wyoming, Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri.

Billings Gazette / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Shaddi Abusaid May 28, 2020

A 55-year-old Cartersville man was arrested on a child pornography charge Thursday morning after investigators received “numerous reports” about his online activity, authorities said. 

Armed with a warrant, members of the GBI, the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, and Homeland Security Investigations searched the home of Preston Nichols before charging him with possession and distribution of child pornography, the GBI said in a news release.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Asia Simone-Burns June 18, 2020

A northwest Georgia man pleaded guilty to federal charges for making pornography of two minors who were in his care. 

Daniel Strickland, 46, of Chatsworth, could spend as many as 25 years in federal prison after he admitted to producing child porn, U.S. Attorney BJay Pak said. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Read Full Article

June 2020

June 12, 2020

INTERPOL released an assessment outlining COVID-19’s short and long-term effects on migrant smuggling and human trafficking. 

While some of the preventive measures have effectively hindered certain criminal opportunities in the short-term, smugglers, and traffickers, as well as their victims, have sought and found ways to overcome them notes INTERPOL. 

Security Magazine / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Zachary Hansen June 10, 2020

Investigators said a 30-year-old man thought he was going to meet and sexually abuse a girl half his age in Cherokee County, but the ordeal landed him in handcuffs on serious charges.

Joe Luis Ruiz Jr. of Auburn was arrested Wednesday after he drove into the county with the intent of meeting a 15-year-old girl, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: C. Isaiah Smalls II June 8, 2020

A Tennessee man is accused of leading a traveling prostitution ring that began in Memphis and ended in West Palm Beach.

Derrion Kirby, 30, was arrested Friday on human trafficking and deriving proceeds of prostitution charges after deputies say he shuttled two women across the South to perform sexual acts in exchange for money. Jail records show he’s being held in Palm Beach County on a $220,000 bond.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office became aware of Kirby’s doings Friday evening when one of the women, an 18-year-old, called 911. Deputies responded to a LaQuinta Hotel in West Palm Beach where the teenager explained how she wound up journeying from Memphis to Little Rock, Arkansas, to New Orleans to Tampa to Miami, working as a prostitute along the way, according to an arrest report.

Miami Herald / Read Full Article

June 2020

By: Shaddi Abusaid May 28, 2020

A 55-year-old Cartersville man was arrested on a child pornography charge Thursday morning after investigators received “numerous reports” about his online activity, authorities said. 

Armed with a warrant, members of the GBI, the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, and Homeland Security Investigations searched the home of Preston Nichols before charging him with possession and distribution of child pornography, the GBI said in a news release.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Read Full Article