Eight Arrested In NJ Child Prostitution Ring Bust
(AP) CAMDEN, NJ.--- The government has embarked on a crackdown on people who force children into prostitution, making arrests in several states, including New Jersey.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales highlighted some examples at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Charges have been filed in recent days in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and others are expected, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the topic before Gonzales’ announcement.
A grand jury in Camden, N.J., indicted eight people Wednesday on charges they conspired to recruit girls to be prostitutes in Atlantic City, N.J., Las Vegas and New York, according to court documents.
The defendants managed a prostitution ring that also extended to Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, the indictment said.
Matthew Thompkins and five others were arrested Sunday and are in custody in New Jersey, the official said. Thompkins had a central role in the conspiracy, the indictment said.
In Detroit, a grand jury charged four Ohio residents with forcing two girls, 14 and 15, to have sex at a truck stop in Michigan. The girls had been held as virtual prisoners in Toledo, Ohio, where they were told to address one defendant, Deric Willoughby, as “Daddy,” and taken to hotel rooms for prostitution. Their payments were eventually turned over to Willoughby, the indictment said.
Two other defendants, Jennifer Huskey and Brandy Shope, are adults who also worked as prostitutes, the indictment says.
A fourth person, Richard Lamar Gordon, is identified in the indictment as a truck driver who took the girls from a Sears parking lot in the Toledo area to the Michigan truck stop and had sex with one of them. He has not been arrested, the official said.
Domestic child prostitution cases have been a federal law enforcement priority since 2003 with the advent of the Justice Department’s Innocence Lost Initiative. When he became attorney general in February, Gonzales said he would focus on reducing all forms of human trafficking.
Several federal laws ban sexual trafficking in children, including one that specifically applies to taking minors across state lines to engage in prostitution.
There were more than 160 arrests in such cases in the government spending year that ended Sept. 30, according to the FBI.