In recent years the subject of child sexual exploitation has been at the forefront of most news channels in Europe but America has shied away from it, it is something that American networks would rather talk about others problems instead of their own. Reason being? It’s likely America has the worst grooming gang scandal of all time and does not want to confront the problem.
America does not use the term “grooming” like European nations do, child sexual exploitation falls under the term “sex trafficking”. However, “sex trafficking” does not convey the true nature of the abuse these young girls suffer and also implies they are adults, not children.
Because of the covert nature of child grooming, reliable estimates of the number of youth affected are lacking. UNICEF has estimated that 300,000 minors are prostituted in the USA every single year, others have estimated 100,000. It is without a doubt however that the number of children sexually exploited in the USA every year is from at least 100,000 to 350,000.
In addition to the lack of reliable prevalence estimates, there are even greater gaps in the literature about how traffickers operate in smaller communities and law enforcement’s and public agencies’ awareness and capacity to properly identify minors who are trafficked into commercial sex activities (Irazola et al., 2008). Further, many law enforcement and service providers lack knowledge about STM (Smith et al., 2009) and are more likely to identify youth as juvenile delinquents or offenders of other crimes than as victims of DMST (Finkelhor & Ormrod, 2004; Halter, 2010). Domestic sex trafficking of minors (DMST) is used to specifically refer to minors who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Misidentification is a critical barrier to providing appropriate and effective intervention to minors who are trafficked in the commercial sex industry (Clawson & Grace, 2007; Smith et al., 2009).
Trafficking of youth in commercial sex occurs across all geographic regions of the United States in a variety of communities, including metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural communities. Usually vulnerable children are preyed upon by pimps and gangs who brutally rape them before selling them to multiple men a night. But it is also upper and middle-class children who are groomed then victimized in the brutal way. Many come from foster homes, or juvenile court, gangs such as MS-13 particularly target those with learning disabilities. Individual perpetrators will target the same victims but are more likely to be prosecuted as opposed to gang members who law enforcement rarely prosecute or even investigate for fear of violence, or racism.
North Carolina’s capital Raleigh in the months starting 2018 from January – April has seen 69 illegal immigrants be charged with 251 charges of child rape/sexual assault.(North Carolina Arrests 2018, Local records 2018, News Observer 2018)
In Northern Virginia there is over 20,000 child grooming victims every year from immigrant gangs, with an estimated 5,000 gang members in this area authorities have described it as “the tip of the iceberg”.(Gang sex trafficking, a growing trend in Northern Virginia ABC7 2016) The girls who are as young as 12-14 are sold to countless men a night and turn to drugs to numb their pain.
A 2016 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reveals that the number of domestic child trafficking victims and convictions has increased substantially every year since 2010 in the United States.(United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime 2016) It is clear the problem is in fact getting considerably worse, not better.
In Fresno, California there are “thousands upon thousands” of child grooming victims in the city, where “every middle school” and some elementary schools has been targeted by grooming gangs for victims.(Don’t kid yourself. Sex slaves are all around us – and you may know some of them Fresno Bee November 2017)
“With the young girls, you promise them heaven, they’ll follow you to hell.”
– Harvey Washington, convicted pimp
Parents trying to rescue their daughters from the gangs homes where they were being abused were also arrested on numerous occasions for “menacing” behaviour and threats, with no action taken against those raping and abusing children.(Violent Crime Institute 2016, Washington Post 2016)
The problem that the United States faces is that instead of gangs being only made up of private individuals working together to exploit children like we see in Europe, but that criminal gangs of illegal immigrants or private citizens are abusing children in the same way too, meaning the amount and potential for abuse is double-fold in America.
According to June 2011 FBI reporting, MS-13 gang members in the Washington, DC metropolitan area branded their prostitutes’ bodies with “M” and “S” gang symbols using knives and razors to show ownership.
Gangs have come to view prostitution as a low-risk, high-profit enterprise, and, indeed, income from prostitution is now second only to drug sales for some gangs. Immigrant gangs have quickly adapted strategies to recruit and trap young American girls into sexual exploitation, often targeting run-aways, foster children, and other at-risk youth. On average, a juvenile lives only seven years once she has entered prostitution after being abused by a grooming gang.
According to the National Gang Intelligence Center there are approximately 30,313 gangs within the United States with about 1,140,344 members. To date it has been officially reported that the Latin Kings, Mara Salvatrucha, and Sur-13 are the most active in juvenile prostitution throughout the United States. It is well documented that most gangs espouse a sexist, machismo view towards females, viewing them as “objects to be used and abused in satisfying their sexual needs.”
The main way these grooming gangs prey on young children though is the following; the process involves overwhelming a female with attention, affection, and gifts in order to induce her infatuation with a particular gang member or the gang lifestyle. Gang members approach such girls in a variety of strategically chosen places, including schools, subway stations, malls, and gang-thrown house parties, commonly known as sex parties. Where children are plied with drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, given alcohol, and then raped by multiple men. By analyzing a young girl’s insecurities and showering her with complements, a gang member is able to induce the vulnerable girl into trusting him and eventually into believing that they are in a loving relationship. Slowly the gang member boyfriend may ask the girl to engage in more and more sexual activity for the gang, starting with having sex with another gang member or “just this once” to make money.
These gang-prostituted children continue to live at home and attend school, engaging in prostitution only part-time and hiding the activity from family. Often being picked up on the way home and being raped by the gang before being dropped off at their homes. The young girls who are groomed believe that prostitution is “proof of love for the pimp,” in these cases her grooming gang boyfriend. Eventually violence and other coercive tactics are introduced to intimidate the girl into continuing her sexual activity for the gang and public.
In addition to physically recruiting young females at schools, malls and other public places, gangs reach out to groom girls online, via social networking websites such as Facebook.
Many children raped and prostituted by gangs are drug addicts, often as a result of strategic coercion by the gang, such as plying them with drugs at aforementioned sex parties, and are unable and unwilling to stop participating in the sexual activity in exchange for drugs.
Perhaps the most difficult hurdle that victims of gang-controlled prostitution face in escaping that lifestyle is the very real threat of violent reaction by the gang. Young females who have been groomed into gang prostitution are often physically beaten, raped, intimidated, and threatened. They are also forced to witness the violent gang rape of other children and young girls to intimidate them. They witness the extreme violence that the gang members engage in on a frequent basis and are constantly reminded of their own vulnerability to such violence if they do not obey the gang’s orders. One victim of gang controlled prostitution stated, “[o]nce you’ve worked for them, it’s as if you belong to them for life. Wherever you go, whatever you do, even if you try to get out, they will come after you and threaten you, rape you and demand money. You never feel safe.”
These details are horrific, and when you examine the numbers they only become more harrowing. One out of every six runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) in 2014 was a victim of sex trafficking. This is not unexpected as previously mentioned runaways are a common target for these grooming gangs, but when taking into account the amount of runaway children and youth that go unreported to authorities, the real number of victims of these gangs is staggering. 1.6 million children run away every year in the United States according to the National Runaway Safeline. This means that the number of children that have not been coerced from school, or malls, or other public spaces, but have been forced in to sexual slavery just from being runaways and having to sell themselves to the gangs is in the tens of thousands to 200,000 every year in the United States.
The 2014 report, Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sexual Economy in Eight Major US Cities, found that in at least two of the eight cities studied the number of child victims of sexual exploitation had increased significantly in the last decade.
As well as runaways, multiple studies have found that many child victims of trafficking had previous involvement in the child welfare or foster care system. Sixty percent of child sex-trafficking victims recovered during an FBI Innocence Lost operation, spanning 72 U.S. cities in 2013, had previously been in foster care or group homes. Reviews of child sex-trafficking cases by law enforcement in other jurisdictions reveal similar numbers: Between 55 percent and 98 percent of child sex-trafficking cases involved children who had prior involvement in the child welfare system.
“One recovered youth told me that, ‘being in foster care was the perfect training for commercial sexual exploitation. I was used to being moved without warning, without any say, not knowing where I was going or whether I was allowed to pack my clothes. After years in foster care, I didn’t think anyone would want to take care of me unless they were paid. So, when my pimp expected me to make money to support ‘the family,’ it made sense to me.’”
Not only are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable American children who are runaways abused and sexually exploited every year, but so are foster children, regular school girls, and even upper-class children in gated communities, no matter the background, any American child can be a victim of immigrant grooming gangs.
This issue is widespread and occurs in every single city and town in the United States, police treat victims as delinquents, often arresting the children who have been gang raped repeatedly instead of going after the gangs for fears of violence. The gangs themselves know this and act with impunity, able to victimize and abuse thousands upon thousands of children every year, without fear of prosecution or repercussion. Violence is also feared by the victims themselves, who are beaten, threatened with guns, knives, and even murdered if they go against the grooming gangs who have enslaved them. They are helpless, and the epidemic of child sexual exploitation in the United States by gangs is very real.
“Violence is inherent in the sex industry. . . No other industry is dependent upon a regular supply of victims of trauma and abuse.”
Fears of racism and violence, Sanctuary Cities and censorship
Police forces on several occasions have been reluctant or outright refused to investigate certain demographics for fears of being seen as racist. Namely Mexican immigrants and those of middle eastern or Arab descent. Police forces have also been reluctant to investigate mainly Mexican grooming gangs because of the violent reputation that they have.
Forces were intimidated and did not want to upset “community cohesion” and on multiple occasions actively avoided confrontation with named offenders that they had been made aware of. In the “Minnesota Pipeline”, so termed by officials because of the volume of children sexually exploited and trafficked there, the typical age of a child victim of a grooming gang is between 11 and 14. The state received the reputation due the fact that officers were so reluctant to confront immigrant grooming gangs that American children could be trafficked through the state at will.
Police in areas such as Washington, D.C. “live in fear” of the MS-13 gang and actively avoid them, their grooming operations are rarely challenged and when brothels ran by them where they have been pimping out children are raided it is the usual story of it being “unclear whether they were charged”. The fear of these gangs has spread to the media in America also and has led to wide bouts of censorship, one such case had the Washington Post not revealing a gang members name due to requests from the FBI and police themselves – “The Washington Post is withholding his nickname at the request of the FBI and police”.
MS-13 has gained significant power across the United States in recent years, leading to even less challenge by authorities. Gang members, often unaccompanied youth, are rarely tracked and confronted, either down to lack of money for local forces, or fear of retaliation. With incredibly violent murders including beheadings and countless children prostituted it is a wonder of who or what will be able to stop the invasion that has already been completed in various areas of the country. Social workers also were reluctant to identify and report perpetrators who they knew were abusing children as they either did not believe the victims, or did not want to report individuals who were in the country illegally. Many did not understand the children in their care at all, and believe they do not have any relationship with police. In Fresno, California, social workers were asked to what degree does the agency have a relationship with local police and youth shelters that can be beneficial while working with commercially sexually exploited victims, 20% agreed and 48% were not sure/neutral. Only three respondents strongly agreed that the agency had a relationship with police and youth shelters while the remaining 22% disagreed/strongly disagreed.
A Washington State report identified that there were many areas that needed improvement, many were due to police ineffectiveness, social worker communication, and even lack of education in schools where most victims are targeted by the grooming gangs. The report explained how grooming gang members will instil fear in their victims and tell them that they will be arrested should they go to the police, which they often are.
The report recommended “broad-based training for DSHS, school personnel, service providers, hotel managers and staff, and public health providers; taking into consideration regional and cultural specificity” these individuals were advised to be aware of regional and cultural differences in regards to grooming gang perpetrators and their victims.
Police forces are also complicit in actively protecting immigrant grooming gangs, more focused on arresting the child victims themselves than actively pursing the trafficker. In 2012, New York State arrested 2,962 individuals for prostitution or loitering for prostitution. In contrast, only 34 individuals were prosecuted state-wide for human trafficking offenses.
Social workers and police officers in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia (DC) have detected at least nine child prostitution rings since 2009 operated by MS-13. One ring had more than 260 victims. Police yet again were more focused on cracking down on “petty crime” such as arresting the victims, than going after the perpetrators.
Due to police aiding the grooming gangs the figures paint a bleak picture of the current situation. The figures show a sustained increase in the number of sex trafficking cases reported in Maryland during this decade. The number of reported cases doubled between 2012 and 2013, and that figure remained stable in 2014. Last year, according to statistics compiled by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), authorities in Maryland responded to a sex trafficking case every four days; during the first three months of 2015, it became every 2.5 days.
MS-13 operates with impunity in many places of the United States. The inability to combat these grooming gangs is reiterated by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims when she brought up the gang and her department’s inability to combat them: “There could be an MS-13 member that I know about” and yet they can’t report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Police cannot report the gang members, and officials and journalists actively defend them; CNBC’s John Harwood said, “However repugnant their actions, MS-13 gang members are human beings IMHO.”
The fear of racism and creation of Sanctuary Cities has done nothing but to compound the issue and has led to tens if not hundreds of thousands of young, mainly white girls being sacrificed to appease those in positions of power. The epidemic of systematic rape and abuse of children is going uncontested.
Sanctuary cities have long been a controversial subject since their insemination into the United States, either by right-wing organisations or by local authorities and residents. The inability to prosecute against illegal immigrants who often have committed horrific crimes has led to protests, violence, and many confrontations. Illegal immigrants have been released from sanctuary cities who have sexually exploited children, raped women and children, who are suspected of murder and violent assault, and are left to roam free to abuse other victims.
An illegal immigrant from Mexico was released by a sanctuary city back into the local community when he had a history of sexually offending minors and other women. He had been previously deported 20 times from the United States, only to be convicted finally of kidnapping, sexual assault, sodomy and several other counts against minors. He saw American girls as “easy meat” and treated young white girls with contempt.
Examples like the aforementioned are not rare in modern America, in fact they are a recurring theme that happens all too often as the next examples will show.
One illegal immigrant who had entered the United States from Honduras in 2009 had been released by the city of Philadelphia in 2014 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers tried to apprehend him, later that year he went on to be convicted of rape of a child and unlawful sexual contact with a minor. U.S. Attorney William McSwain called the policy dangerous and said law enforcement should be doing everything in its power to protect children from predators instead of giving these child rapitsts a “free pass from the City of Philadelphia and its Department of Prisons”.
According to a Washington Post investigation, states such as Virginia have seen recent resurgence of MS-13 gang crime, and one of the ways they finance their organisation is through selling women, however these are often not “women” and in fact are groomed local vulnerable children.
Whenever there is a surge of gang related violence either in a small town or in a large city it is almost always down to the new funds generated by selling these children, and the rape and abuse that comes with it. The motto of course being “Kill, Rape, Control”.
It is worrying when looking at the Department of Homeland Security’s statistics when it examines how many MS-13 members specifically have been released back into local communities by sanctuary cities in 8 months alone.
New Jersey: 2
New Mexico: 2
New York: 4
Rhode Island: 1
These numbers make for shocking reading, each one of these members at some point will have raped a local girl either by the very act of joining the organisation in the first place, or by part of their motto and control of the local populace. Each one released will be another potential groomer and another potential rapist against the children in the local area.
What’s more harrowing is that officials have said these numbers are “conservative” and are far lower than the real numbers that were released due to ICE not having full access to all suspects.
It is not only inaction that is causing local children to be groomed and raped by hundreds of men but active collusion. Gangs are operating with impunity and an arrogance that has seen them target children in schools, on the walks home, in local parks, on social media, and even at sports venues.
It is not just gang members that are being released however, illegal immigrants are also regularly released no matter what their crime whether they are in a gang or not. Roughly 279 cities and counties refused to cooperate on at least some deportations in 2016, officials in Cook Co., Illinois (Chicago) refused to communicate with ICE at all. Riverside Regional Jail in Hopewell City, Virginia released a convicted rapist, while three men – two in Texas and one in Oregon – were released despite being convicted of indecent exposure.
Sanctuary cities are aiding and abetting child rape gangs every single day and it is just the tip of the iceberg for the overall epidemic plaguing the United States.
As with many sensitive subjects child exploitation is no stranger to censorship and cover-ups and rarely appears in the public knowledge or news spaces. It is due to this that the true scale of the epidemic is largely unknown to the American public and partly why it continues so uncontested.
Censorship can be for several reasons, either the victim is particularly vulnerable, the perpetrators are of a certain race and community tensions will rise due to the news, or political motives. While some police forces have refused to even investigate certain reports for fear of being seen as “racist” some judges have tried to hide reports from the public too.
Censorship famously began as far back as 2005 when the FBI would censor images of the MS-13 gang on the internet, the argument was to hide the tattoos of the gangs to stop others either trying to replicate or join themselves.
An example of censorship due to not wanting to antagonise the local community due to the race of the perpetrators was when a 5 year old mentally disabled girl in Idaho’s Twin Falls was sexually assaulted by refugee boys, who not only recorded the incident on a mobile to later show one of the parents who allegedly “celebrated” the sexual assault. Three boys, ages 14, 10, and 7, were charged in the case. The older boys, brothers, were from Eritrea, an African country, while the younger boy was from Iraq. The boys were from refugee families. The details of the assault are still unclear and unknown though due to reporting restrictions being placed upon the case by 5th District Magistrate Thomas Borresen who sealed the case with a gag order and ordered the attorneys involved “to not discuss anything that was said or done.” It is alleged the boys gang raped the victim anally, orally and urinated upon her after luring her into a laundry room. What is known however is that neither of the 3 boys who plead guilty received jail time.
This particular case brought national outrage and the parents of the victim who were shown the video of the assault on their mentally disabled daughter said they were “especially disappointed with the public conduct of (The Prosecution), who over the past year advocated in the media on behalf of these three sex offenders repeatedly, rather than focus on zealous representation of the victim as was his obligation.”
It is not just judges that censor cases of refugee or illegal immigrant crimes against children, the mainstream media actively avoids the subject also. The “big three” networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC actively choose to distance themselves from cases that are of a particular nature and that may attract the “wrong crowd” and may cause their viewers to react in ways they do not want, one of these cases that caused a complete media blackout on these networks was the gang rape of a 14 year old girl in a Maryland high school bathroom allegedly by two men, one of those in the United States illegally.
The media outlets chose instead to air 11 minutes of coverage in two days to the fake 2014 claim that a University of Virginia fraternity gang raped a female student. This case combined sanctuary cities as well as censorship as it was noted that “the Maryland State House of Delegates has approved a bill to make Maryland a sanctuary state…just days after Maryland authorities charged two immigrants, one of them confirmed to be here illegally, in the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Rockville High School bathroom.”
Correspondent Doug McKelway advised the school district banned TV cameras from the packed PTA meeting as “[t]he red-hot controversy…lit up social media.”
McKelway also noted how the school district had shifted their focus from the rape to blaming average citizens for being outraged about how such a thing could have happened.
It is this same attitude displayed by the school district that is employed by police departments all over the country that blame the victims themselves or the surrounding community instead of the immigrant grooming gangs or individual perpetrators for the gang rapes they commit against American children. This active and deliberate censorship is helping those perpetrators to continue to commit the abuses they do.
America needs to start calling grooming what it is, it needs to stop shying away from this subject and the media not covering repeated abuse and gang rapes. Hopefully this report will start a movement that will begin to combat this problem, and the continuation of a nations suicide will cease.
- National Gang Intelligence Center. & Crimes Against Children Unit, FBI, Gang Criminal Activity Expanding Into Juvenile Prostitution: Intelligence Report (2016).
- NAT’L GANG INTELLIGENCE CTR., supra note 2, at 2; Attiyya Anthony, Innocence Lost, THECRIMEREPORT.ORG (July 24, 2012),
- MICHEL DORAIS & PATRICE CORRIVEAU, GANGS AND GIRLS: UNDERSTANDING JUVENILE PROSTITUTION 45
- CHICAGO ALLIANCE AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, supra note 5, at 2
- Burt, supra note 11.
- NAT’L GANG INTELLIGENCE CTR., supra note 2, at 3.
- LEWIS YABLONSKY, GANGS IN COURT 54 (2d ed. 2008); see also DORAIS & CORRIVEAU, supra note 8, at 33.
- Id. at 35–36; see also Lederer, supra note 4, at 6 (noting that gang members often recruit girls by giving them expensive gifts, and stating that the girls are later forced into prostitution as “the price they pay for love and affection”).
- See DORAIS, supra note 8, at 36 (noting that gangs recruit girls “wherever teenage girls hang out” including schools, concerts, malls, restaurants and parks); Anthony, supra note 7, at 3 (discussing the phenomenon of “skip parties,” hosted by gangs that provide “[a]lcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy free of charge. As the party progresses, the girls are expected to have sex”).
- See Litvinoff, supra note 12, at 37 (“[W]hen a pimp recruits or panders a new prostitute he often looks to identify the vulnerabilities in an information-gathering conversation and tries to fulfil girls’ voids by providing food, shelter, clothing, and simple flattery.”); see also DORAIS, supra note 8, at 41 (noting that “[g]angs quickly become experts at identifying a girl’s particular vulnerability and using it to break down her defences”).
- Id.; DORAIS, supra note 8, at 42 (noting that the boyfriend takes steps to lower the girl’s inhibitions, such as encouraging erotic games at a party or to have sex with a “lovesick friend”).
- See Anthony, supra note 7, at 2 (noting that “the gangs have found ways to escape law enforcement scrutiny by trafficking girls who still live at home”); Brown, supra note 9 (detailing the story of a gang-prostituted girl who continued to live at home during the ordeal).
- DORAIS, supra note 8, at 41.
- See NAT’L GANG INTELLIGENCE CTR., supra note 4, at 2–4 (“The gang used Internet websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist to advertise their victims and find customers.”);
- See id. at 51 (noting that “[i]nduced drug addiction is an effective means of control”); Litvinoff, supra note 12, at 42 (“Many girls continue prostituting because they have developed an addictive behavior [such as drug dependency]”); Lederer, supra note 4, at 6 (noting that “after they have been trafficked into prostitution, the girls need the drugs to numb themselves against the commercial sex acts in which they are forced to engage”)
- See DORAIS, supra note 8, at 85 (stating that “[t]here is no doubt that many girls have been repeatedly threatened, intimidated, beaten or raped. Some live in fear for their lives”); Litvinoff, supra note 12, at 42 (noting that prostitutes are routinely subject to violence and know the retaliatory capability of their pimps);
- See DORAIS, supra note 8
- Id. at 54.
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (2015). Case Analysis Division.
- National Runaway Safeline, (2012).
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (2015). Case Analysis Division.
- Id. at 59.
- National Runaway Safeline, (2017)
- PHILLIPS, supra at 13-14.
- Department of Homeland Security 2017
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (2015). Case Analysis Division.