How has your summer been?
For most members of the New Jersey political establishment we bet it’s been pretty good – surrounded by family, nice food and drink, the sounds of laughter and friendship. But for the victims of human trafficking -- our modern slavery epidemic – it’s been just another season in hell, made more poignant by the fact that, for almost all of those trafficked, there are memories of when they enjoyed the summer holidays as much as anyone else.
Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, second to drug dealing and tied with arms dealing. The FBI recently uncovered and arrested 42 child sex traffickers in New Jersey. The Star-Ledger reported that the 42 were arrested on charges that included sex trafficking, child exploitation and prostitution. A total of 84 children were rescued during the operation. Human Trafficking is modern day slavery and it is happening TODAY -- in the HERE and NOW!
But some in New Jersey’s political establishment don't want to admit that it is happening, because too many are in hock to contributions from special interests who benefit from the massive profits generated by everything from goods made with indentured labor to Internet porn. Instead of addressing this modern crime against humanity, many console themselves by virtue signaling about the slavery ended by the Civil War -- in 1865. This allows them to (1) ignore modern slavery, (2) keep taking the money, and (3) feel good about themselves.
Imagine if the British government had taken this line in 1807 and -- instead of abolishing the slave trade -- they had merely congratulated themselves on the end of their enslavement by the Romans, centuries before? No, they were focused on the affliction of slavery in what was their modern times – and they dealt with it, sending out the Royal Navy to sink every slave ship and blast every slave trader from the seven seas.
Modern technology is rapidly expanding the means by which human beings are ensnared and trapped into modern slavery and then trafficked as though they were meat. The modern "slave ship" is embodied by certain websites and social media -- its "ocean" is the Internet. The media recently reported about the rescue by the FBI of a "3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister" who were being trafficked by a child predator "who was offering to sell the children for sex" using the Internet. Isn't it time to adopt the technology to blast these scumbags from the Internet?
Child trafficking is a $32 billion-a-year industry and is on the rise in all 50 states, according to the U.S. government. 4.5 Million of trafficked persons have been sexually exploited and nearly 300,000 Americans under 18 have been lured into the commercial sex trade. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported that in 2016, human trafficking in the United States increased by 35.7% -- in one year! But we have the technology to stop it. So why aren't we adopting it?
We have the legislation. It's called the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act (S-540/ A-878). And it offers a constitutional way to prevent predators from using the Internet to sexually exploit children. It is supported by Thorn, an anti-human trafficking group that uses technology to defeat child sex traffickers.
So why are some members of New Jersey’s political establishment undermining this legislation by making excuses for the actions of Senator Bob Menendez and his friend, a wealthy man who was convicted of ripping-off taxpayers? And why are others reluctant to support the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act on the state and federal level?
Last week, the New Jersey Democrat State Committee rounded up 88 women operatives to aid Senator Bob Menendez’ comeback bid. The 88 Democrats brushed aside federal allegations made by prosecutors that there was evidence to suggest that the Senator and his “friend” had been involved in trafficking, including “uncharged allegations of underage prostitution that kicked off the federal probe.” This is serious stuff and something each of those 88 Democrats should have answers for.
Prosecutors twice say there was “corroborating evidence” to support the initial sex crime allegations, for which Senator Menendez and his convicted friend, Dr. Solomon Melgen, face no charges. In the first instance, they write:
"The defendants present their case as exceptional because the allegations of underage prostitution are 'such easily disprovable allegations about something that would hardly be a federal crime even had it been true.' Id. As an initial matter, it is most certainly a federal crime to leave the country for the purpose of engaging in a commercial sex act with a minor, and the defendants’ suggestion to the contrary is unsettling. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1952, 1591(a)(1), & 2421. Furthermore, the defendants’ dismissive treatment of these allegations is troubling. Allegations of human trafficking and underage prostitution must be taken seriously and cannot be dismissed merely because the alleged perpetrator is a United States Senator. Given the nature and seriousness of the allegations, in addition to the corroborating evidence, it would have been irresponsible not to investigate."
Then, recounting the initial stages of the investigation and apparently corroborating evidence, prosecutors write:
"As would be done in the normal course, the Government took responsible steps to investigate these serious criminal allegations, which were not so 'easily disprovable,' as the defendants suggest. Some eyewitnesses described a party attended by defendant Melgen in Casa de Campo—where defendant Melgen has a home and where defendant Menendez often visited—involving prostitutes. See Ex. 2 at 2; Ex. 3 at 1-2.. Furthermore, defendant Melgen has flown numerous young women from the United States and from other countries on his private jet to the Dominican Republic. Many of these young women receive substantial financial support from defendant Melgen. For example, defendant Melgen flew two young women—whom he met while they were performing at a South Florida 'Gentlemen’s' Club, see Ex. 4 at 1-2—on his private jet to his villa in Casa de Campo the day after paying one young woman $1,000 and the other young woman $2,000. See Ex. 5. Indeed, one of defendant Melgen’s pilots described 'young girls' who 'look[ed] like escorts' traveling at various times on defendant Melgen’s private jet. Ex. 6 at 9:7-16. Some young women who received substantial sums of money from defendant Melgen were in the same place as defendant Menendez at the same time. Moreover, when the allegations were first reported, defendant Menendez defended himself with public statements that are easily disprovable. Specifically, he repeated several times that he had only flown on defendant Melgen’s private jet on three occasions. That representation is demonstrably false. Confronted with corroborating evidence of such serious crimes, it would have been an inexcusable abdication of responsibility not to investigate these allegations."
While Menendez denies these allegations, did the 88 Democrat women operatives ever stop to ask him about them?
So who are they? Well here is the list of the 88…
Afsheen Shamsi, Steering Committee Member, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
Alison Arne, Atlantic County Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Amie Maria, Cumberland/Salem County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Amy DeGise, Chair, Hudson County Democratic Organization
Analilia Mejia, Executive Director, New Jersey Working Families Alliance
Andrea Smith, Cape May County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Angela Bardoe, Cumberland/Salem County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Angela McKnight, Assemblymember
Angelica Jimenez, Assemblymember
Annette Quijano, Assemblymember
Anita Esteve, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Ann Twomey, President, Health Professionals and Allied Employees
Anna Maria Tejada, Past President, Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey
Anna Wong, Northeast Regional Director, Action Together New Jersey
Arlene Quinones Perez, Chair, Hunterdon County Democratic Committee
Ashley Henderson, President, Princeton Marching Forward
Barbra Casbar Siperstein, Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ
Caitlin Sherman, Hudson County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Careen DeAndrea Lazarus, Passaic County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Carmen Salavarrieta, Angels in Action
Cathy Brienza, JOLT USA
Caty Polanco, Latin American Democratic Association
Cheryl Marciano, Warren County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Christina Zuk, Vice President, New Jersey Young Democrats
Christine Clarke, Environmental Director, Action Together New Jersey
Christine Elias, Gloucester County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Deb Huber, President, NOW-NJ
Devon Mazza, Ocean County Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Donna M Chiera, President, AFTNJ
Dr. Hetal Gor, Advisory Board, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi, Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Edina Brown, Councilmember, Old Bridge
Elizabeth Cano, Union County Latina Activist
Elizabeth Meyer, Founder, NJ Women’s March
Erin Chung, President and Founder, Women for Progress
Estina Baker, CWA District 1
Gail Black, Statewide Jewish Women’s Advocate
Hetty Rosenstein, CWA
Iris Perrot, Warren County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Jaci Jones, President, Middlesex County Federation of Democratic Women
Jackie Low, Bergen County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Jeanne Fox, Esq., Former BPU President
Jeanne Jordan, Gloucester County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Jill Rhodes, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Joan Jacobsen, Sussex County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Joan Quigley, Former President of the State Junior Women’s Clubs
Joann Downey, Assemblymember
Kellie Davidson, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Kelly Shea, Warren County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Laurel Brennan, Secretary-Treasurer, New Jersey State AFL-CIO
Lauren Nicosia, Women’s Health Advocate
Lenace Edwards, SEIU 32BJ
Leslie Huhn, Chair, Sussex County Democratic Committee
Linda Sloan Locke, CNM,LSW
Lindsay Campbell, President, Sussex County NOW
Lisa Anderson, Sussex County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Lisa Bonanno, Gloucester County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Lizette Delgado-Polanco, Vice Chair, New Jersey State Democratic Committee
Marcia Marley, BlueWave NJ
Margaret Weinberger, President, Somerset County Federation of Democratic Women
Megan Coyne, President, College Democrats of New Jersey
Mildred Scott, Sheriff, Middlesex County
Nancy Pinkin, Assemblywoman
Nedia Morsy, Make the Road Action
Pamela Brug, Union County Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Pamela Renee, Councilwoman, Neptune City
Pat Perkins Auguste, Councilwoman, Elizabeth
Patricia Campos, LUPE PAC
Patricia Soteropoulos, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Patricia Teffenhart, Gender Equity Advocate
Patti Douglass, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Peg Schaffer, Chair, Somerset County Democratic Committee
Rachel Barry, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Regina Keelan, Democratic Municipal Chair, Atlantic Highlands
Nadia Hussain, Passaic County Director, NJDSC South Asian American Caucus
Safanya Searcy, Labor Leader and Community Activist
Saily M. Avelenda, Esq., Attorney and Activist
Sara Cullinane, Make the Road Action
Shanel Robinson, Deputy Mayor, Franklin Township
Shanti Narra, Middlesex County Freeholder
Shelly Morningstar, Morris County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Stephanie Silvera, Passaic County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Susan Lavine Coleman, Burlington County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Tammi Bathke, Burlington County Co-Chair, Action Together New Jersey
Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblywoman
Winn Khuong, Executive Director, Action Together New Jersey
Yvonne Lopez, Assemblymember