It’s the world’s oldest profession – and by the looks of things, the perpetrators – and victims — of prostitution are getting younger and younger.
Recently, police in three Massachusetts communities arrested three alleged pimps and 11 other people suspected of Massachusetts prostitution crimes. According to authorities, the arrests also took one underage girl off the streets. From last Thursday through Saturday, more than 2,500 state, local, and federal officers worked in 57 cities and towns nationwide to rescue 79 youths, and also arrested 104 alleged pimps, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Monday. In all, 11 people in Massachusetts were charged with exchanging sexual conduct for a fee.
The three-day undercover effort, which was held nationwide, was code named Operation Cross Country. It was organized by the FBI. Local police departments and the Massachusetts State Police cooperated. In Massachusetts, it involved 14 suspects in Malden, Saugus, and West Springfield. Its goal was to target teenage sex trafficking.
Said Malden Police Lieutenant Marc Gatcomb, “The goal is to recover juveniles who are sucked into this so-called vacuum of prostitution, and to treat them as victims and not arrestees. A lot of these individuals are viewed as victims now, too, under human trafficking [laws].”
According to police reports filed in Lynn District Court, in some of the cases, law enforcement responded to online listings advertising escort and companionship services to set up meetings with the suspects. They also used marked bills to track cash to the pimps.
“Child prostitution remains a major threat to children across America,” said Kevin L. Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch. “We are working with our partners to disrupt and put behind bars individuals and members of criminal enterprises who would sexually exploit children.”
Two of the alleged pimps who were arrested in Saugus were Dion D. Dottin of Medford, and Jonathan E. Brown of Mattapan. Both were charged with one count of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude and two counts of deriving support from prostitution. Both men pleaded not guilty at their Friday arraignment in Lynn. They were ordered held on $10,000 and $25,000 bail, respectively, by Lynn District Court Judge Ellen Flatley. They are due back in court July 19 for a probable cause hearing.
As a Norfolk County criminal defense attorney, I can assure you of this: Too many lost and lonely young people out there are vulnerable to sex trafficking rings, and even though I’m a Dedham, Massachusetts sex crimes defense lawyer, I don’t oppose law enforcement efforts to root out sex trafficking operations. So long as the investigations and arrests take place in a constitutionally appropriate manner, and so long as the accused receive a talented and vigorous defense, I think these efforts should be aggressively pursued.