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Men Charged with Trafficking 16-Year-Old Runaway

A place to fit in; a community to belong to; an actual physical space where your full self will be not only accepted but celebrated. Establishing a community center in San Diego that provided this safe physical and emotional space specifically to meet the needs of young Black, LGBTQ+ people would make a significant dent in the likelihood that they would fall prey to sex traffickers.

Two men who allegedly trafficked teenage girls have been federally charged, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.

LaDarius Alton Smith, 33, and Ulises Rene Garcia, 22, were indicted on Tuesday on two counts of sex trafficking a child. Both have been ordered detained pending trial.

According to court documents, the case began when the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services contacted the North Texas Trafficking Task Force to report that a 16-year-old runaway, identified in court documents as JD 1, had been spotted on megapersonals.eu, a known commercial sex database.

An undercover agent initiated conversation with the individual who posted the ad and arranged for a commercial-sex date at a hotel in Dallas on April 12.

Once there, the agent encountered a 17-year-old girl, identified as JD 2, who said she had locked herself out of the room. Mr. Garcia gave JD 2 a key to that room, and then she began conversing with the agent. Another individual, later determined to be Mr. Smith, spoke with the agent on the telephone and promised to bring JD 1 to the hotel soon.

A surveillance team then observed a dark blue BMW enter the hotel parking lot. Mr. Smith got out and escorted JD 1 and another 17-year-old, JD 3, to the hotel room.

Agents recovered the girls and transported them to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center for comprehensive care.

Meanwhile, law enforcement conducted a search of the hotel room, where they found a backpack containing JD1’s high school schedule.

An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Garcia and Mr. Smith are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If convicted, they each face up to life in federal prison.

Homeland Security Investigation’s Dallas Field Division conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Magliolo is prosecuting the case.

If you believe you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call local law enforcement or the confidential National Human Trafficking Hotline, staffed 24/7, at 1-888-373-7888.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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