Laurel Man Charged in Human Trafficking of Two Girls, 13 and 15
[from News Release by Office Of Public Affairs (HoCo Police Department) – July 26, 2016]
Howard County police have charged a Laurel man with human trafficking in a case involving two young girls, ages 13 and 15. Arthur Coleman, 46, of Larchdale Road, was charged with multiple counts of human trafficking, prostitution and other sex-related offenses.
An undercover female Howard County detective reached out to the 13-year-old girl, who she saw posted in numerous prostitution ads online, including on the website Backpage. The detective posed as a young girl interested in joining the teen to make money.
The teen replied to the undercover officer that she and an older man would pick her up in a public place in Columbia. At the agreed upon location, officers were waiting for the teen and the male driver, who was later identified as Coleman. When they arrived, the 13-year-old and a second girl, 15, were in the car.
Howard County has an ongoing effort to combat prostitution, human trafficking and related offenses. The county recently created a dedicated account to fund victims’ services and additional police training, and added a second full-time detective to investigate human trafficking cases.
Investigators are focused on arresting traffickers and offering assistance to victims through housing, treatment, transportation and other help. Anyone with information about human trafficking in Howard County should call 410-313-STOP or email: HCPDcrimetips@howardcountymd.gov.
Why Trafficking Exists
Human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand, like drugs or arms trafficking. Many factors make children and adults vulnerable to human trafficking. However, human trafficking does not exist solely because many people are vulnerable to exploitation. Instead, human trafficking is fueled by a demand for cheap labor, services and for commercial sex.
Human traffickers are those who employ force, fraud, or coercion to victimize others in their desire to profit from the existing demand. To ultimately solve the problem of human trafficking, it is essential to address these demand-driven factors, as well as to alter the overall market incentives of high-profit and low-risk that traffickers currently exploit.
Labor trafficking and sex trafficking of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals persist and thrive for a number of reasons, including:
- Low Risk: Human traffickers perceive there to be little risk or deterrence to affect their criminal operations. While investigations, prosecutions and penalties have increased throughout recent years, many traffickers still believe the high profit margin to be worth the risk of detection. Factors that add to low risk include: lack of government and law enforcement training, low community awareness, ineffective or unused laws, lack of law enforcement investigation, scarce resources for victim recovery services, and social blaming of victims.
- High Profits: When individuals are willing to buy commercial sex, they create a market and make it profitable for traffickers to sexually exploit children and adults. When consumers are willing to buy goods and services from industries that rely on forced labor, they create a profit incentive for labor traffickers to maximize revenue with minimal production costs.
Left unchecked, human trafficking will continue to flourish in environments where traffickers can reap substantial monetary gains with relatively low risk of getting caught or lost profits.
Maryland is a “Goldmine” for Human Trafficking
In the 2012 Governor’s Report on combatting trafficking within the state, Maryland was described as a “goldmine” for human trafficking. A good deal of this is logistical, as Maryland sits at the heart of what is referred to as the “East Coast Circuit,” a string of cities along the East Coast through which traffickers routinely travel. Interstate 95 is the key transportation element along the corridor, linking major cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., with the southern states.
Along I‐95 and throughout the state, Maryland has numerous rest stops, truck stops, bus, and railway stations, all of which are considered prime recruitment and point of sale locations for traffickers. . . In recognition of this risk, Maryland passed legislation in 2012 requiring all truck stops, rest areas, and bus stations in Maryland to post information on the availability of the NHTRC hotline (National Human Trafficking Resource Center).
Along with high‐volume highways and rest stops, Maryland has an international airport and international waterway ports, both of which serve as convenient entry points for domestic and international victims. The area around Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport has been the site of numerous human trafficking arrests, due to the proliferation of hotels and the revolving cast of visitors to the area seeking to purchase commercial sex acts.
Maryland is also in close proximity to Washington D.C., where a large portion of the allegations of labor trafficking by foreign diplomats are centered. . . Finally, Maryland is home to numerous casinos, tourist attractions, convention centers, and large‐scale sporting events, all of which draw the need for supplying cheap labor and commercialized sex.
Howard County’s Approach to Human Trafficking
On January 6th, 2014, the Howard County Council introduced County Council Resolution 8‐2014, which established the Howard County Task Force on Human Trafficking. The Task Force was directed to research the development of protocols, community outreach efforts, training efforts, and partnerships to help increase the identification of human trafficking victims in the County and aide in the establishment of a provider network for comprehensive services for victims of trafficking.
Task Force members met at least monthly to hear from federal, state, and local experts on the complexities of human trafficking and how it is manifested in Howard County. What follows is a list of recommendations on how to address human trafficking in Howard County, which were created following months of research, education, and consideration by the Task Force.
- Increase identification rates of human trafficking victims in the County, including domestic and transnational victims of both sex and labor trafficking.
- Aid in the establishment of a provider network that offers comprehensive services to victims of trafficking.
- Facilitate more coordinated anti‐ trafficking efforts in the county through extensive community outreach, training efforts, intelligence sharing and forming partnerships between law enforcement and non‐governmental organizations.
- Facilitate more coordinated anti‐trafficking efforts in the county through creation of a specialized law enforcement core group, proactive investigations and increase the prosecution of traffickers, criminally, and where appropriate, civilly.
Howard County Nonprofit Resources
HoCo AGAST (Advocacy Group Against Slavery and Trafficking) is a grass roots Citizen’s Advocacy Group that has been in existence since 2011 with goals to educate our community about Human Trafficking in the U.S., our state and county; to work for stronger laws to combat it; to protect women and youth from becoming trapped in sexual exploitation; and to support victim service providers.
Safe House of Hope. We are a volunteer-run and -led 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that welcomes people from all backgrounds and spiritual traditions. We provide education, training, and support to help victims of human trafficking become an active part of a healthy community.
Samaritan Women’s mission is to glorify GOD by seeking justice, reconciliation, and healing. We fulfill our mission through: (1) Operating transitional and restorative shelter programs for women recovering from domestic human trafficking. Our program emphasis is on life-rebuilding, personal accomplishments, social re-entry, and spiritual reconciliation. (2) Inspiring people–inside and outside of the Church–to engage in combating domestic human trafficking through awareness, prevention, service, and advocacy. We provide the education and tools for them to do this work.
How Maryland Rates in its Response to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking
Recognizing that most of the gaps in responding to domestic minor sex trafficking must be addressed at the state level, the Protected Innocence Legislative Framework (developed by Shared Hope International) sets out the basic policy principles required to create a safer environment for children . . . Based on the research findings, within an overarching framework that identifies minors exploited through sex trafficking as victims, four primary policy issues were identified as critical to combating domestic minor sex trafficking:
- Eliminating Demand. All buyers of sex with children—whether they be classified as preferential (pedophiles), opportunistic (thrill seekers), or situational (do not care about the age of the person being prostituted)—are committing a serious crime for which significant punishment is appropriate.
- Prosecuting Traffickers. Frequently, the arrest and prosecution of the trafficker are based solely on the victim’s cooperation in the investigation and testimony at trial. . . It is critical for law enforcement officers to pursue innovative or alternative investigation techniques to corroborate the victims’ allegations in domestic minor sex trafficking cases.
- Identifying Victims. One of the primary barriers to victim identification is that laws often label minors engaging in commercial sex acts as criminals rather than victims. Misidentification causes a chain reaction of negative outcomes, the most significant of which is the failure to deliver the necessary services to interrupt and treat the trauma these children have endured.
- Providing Protection, Access to Services and Shelter for Victims. Law enforcement officers . . . are often compelled to charge a domestic minor sex trafficking victim with a delinquency offense, such as prostitution, to detain the child and to keep the child safe from the trafficker. . . Establishing protective responses for victims that include shelter and services would provide law enforcement officers and juvenile courts with an alternative placement for prostituted minors.
(Featured photo at top of post from https://ckmgrey.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/23/)