Recently, five men were arraigned on charges of sex for a fee and enticement of a person under eighteen in the Boston Municipal Court after a Boston police sex trafficking sting. Another man failed to appear in court and a warrant issued. Four of the men were released on personal recognizance while one was held on $1,000 bail due to his criminal record. Prosecutors allege that the six accused contacted Boston police officers posing as young girls on the Internet for sex. The men allegedly agreed to meet with the fictional teenage girl at local hotels. Each of the defendants allegedly described their clothing and gave their phone numbers. Once a suspect was in sight, police called the numbers and the defendants’ phones allegedly rang. Prosecutors told local media that a similar sting was conducted in August, after which five men were arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from officers posing online as a 15-year-old.
Under “An Act Relative to Commercial Exploitation of People,” signed into law by Governor Patrick on Nov. 21, 2011, enticement of a person under the age of 18 by electronic communication to engage in prostitution, human trafficking, or commercial sexual activity is punishable by up to 2 ½ years in the house of correction or by up to 5 years in the state prison. “Enticement “ includes any of the following: luring, inducing, persuading, tempting, inciting, soliciting, coaxing or inviting. The offense is considered a sex offense involving a child and a sexually violent offense. The law also created a fund for victims and “safe harbor” provisions to protect child victims from being prosecuted. A second or subsequent offense carries a 5-year mandatory minimum state prison sentence. Massachusetts was ranked among the most improved states in anti-trafficking in the country following enactment of the law. Massachusetts is now ranked in the top four, along with Washington, Minnesota and Texas.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley told local media that one goal is to reduce the demand for human trafficking. In a Boston police statement, the department said that the Human Trafficking Unit is “committed to ending the exploitation of young people” and will continue to seek out and prosecute those who do so. According to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, approximately 27 million people are trafficking worldwide.
Sexual exploitation is the most widely reported type of human trafficking because it is generally more visible, but other more “underground” forms include forced labor, forced marriage, domestic servitude, and organ removal.
The relatively new legislation also targets organ trafficking, which is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison or a $50,000 fine, or both. There has been a rise in human organs, mostly kidneys, being sold on the black market. Organ trafficking involving a person under 18 carries a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime or any other crime in Massachusetts and you want an experienced defense lawyer on your side, contact us.