September 13, 2011 |
"Band of brothers," the U.S. Department of Justice calls them. But if you're thinking World War II, parachutes behind enemy lines, battlefield heroics - wrong band. These brothers number just five, hail from Ukraine, and stand charged with one of the most insidious crimes in the illegal immigrant underground: human trafficking. Omelyan Botsvynyuk, 52, and Stepan Botsvynyuk, 36, are set to go on trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Two more are in Canada pending extradition.
April 21, 2004 |
Four years ago, when authorities in Philadelphia began looking into the sudden proliferation of Asian "massage parlors," they found more than the world's oldest profession. It was an equally ancient evil: slavery. What authorities discovered was that many of the women had paid tens of thousands of dollars to brokers to get into the United States - only to find they had to work off that debt as prostitutes. Federal authorities announced yesterday that Philadelphia had been selected as the first site for a program to combat the growing problem of "human trafficking" by working with social service groups to persuade victims to come forward and help prosecute the criminals who enslaved them.
July 17, 2012 |
A Ukrainian national was sentenced Monday to life in prison for leading a human-trafficking ring based in Philadelphia that lured its victims into forced labor, cleaning large chain stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Omelyan Botsvynyuk, 52, was found guilty in October of conspiracy and extortion. Stepan Botsvynyuk, 38, his brother, was found guilty of conspiracy at the same trial and faces a possible 20 years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Tuesday. Two other brothers, Mykhaylo and Dmytro, also have been indicted in the case and are awaiting extradition from Canada.
March 1, 2016
ISSUE | SLAVERY It's here, worldwide Many people believe that slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago. In reality, slavery still exists in countries around the world, including our own ("Janitorial slavery ring nets 20 years," Friday). The International Labor Organization estimates that there are more than 27 million slaves in the world. The Chester County Abolitionists is an anti-human-trafficking advocacy group that fights modern-day slavery in all its forms.
April 18, 2011
The Rev. Alyn Waller was 29 when Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church asked him in 1994 to lead the 364-member Germantown congregation. By 2003, it had 5,000 members and broke ground that year on a 94,000-square-foot church at 2800 Cheltenham Ave. Today, Enon counts 14,000 members - the largest congregation in the Philadelphia area. Waller spoke with Inquirer religion reporter David O'Reilly. Question: Did you expect to make Enon into a megachurch when you arrived?
January 30, 2014 |
On a warm November afternoon in northern Uganda, Aida Marcial heard that the serial rapist she had been investigating had been spotted downtown, and drove there with local police. She video-recorded the arrest and his subsequent confession to 10 counts of sexual assault; enough evidence, she said, to put him away for a long time even by Uganda's less stringent judicial standards. In talking about the case, the first image Marcial dug up during an interview this month is of one of the victims, age 9, smiling at the camera with her thin arms wrapped around Marcial.
August 16, 2013 |
New Jersey is one of the two best states in the country when it comes to laws fighting human trafficking, according to a new report from a national advocacy organization. Pennsylvania, while lagging, showed improvement, according to the Polaris Project's 2013 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws, released Wednesday during a conference call. New Jersey, along with Washington state, received perfect scores from the Washington-based anti-trafficking organization. "Over the past year, the momentum among advocates, legislators, and state officials to pass robust laws combating human trafficking has been inspiring," said Bradley Myles, the Polaris Project CEO. This is the fourth year that the group has rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using 10 categories of laws that it says are "critical to establishing a basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers, and supports survivors.
February 26, 2016
A Lansdale man was charged Wednesday with prostitution and human trafficking for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl and arranging for her to engage in prostitution. Brian Kieffer, 32, met the Hatfield girl on a social media app when she was 15, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a news release Wednesday. Kieffer began an inappropriate relationship with her, police said, and managed her prostitution, from which he profited. Steele said Kieffer also drove the girl, now 16, to Philadelphia to purchase heroin and cocaine, and last fall took her to Florida without her parents' knowledge or consent.
February 1, 2014 |
GLOUCESTER TWP. Invoking a new state law, Camden County officials have charged a man and a woman with human trafficking after they allegedly brought a woman from North Carolina to New Jersey to work as a prostitute. Van Howell, 41, of Sicklerville, and Krista Burton, 30, of Columbia, Pa., were arrested last Friday and charged with first-degree human trafficking, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said at a news conference Thursday at the Municipal Building in Gloucester Township. The two recruited a 26-year-old sex worker from Cherokee, N.C., Faulk said in a statement, paying for her bus ticket and promising her "more lucrative business," but then warning her of consequences if she did not meet their expectations.
February 7, 2015 |
To hinder seedy activity at Philadelphia hotels, a city councilman has proposed banning establishments from renting rooms by the hour. Legislation introduced by Councilman Ed Neilson on Thursday would also require employees at all Philadelphia hotels to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking. "You're looking to deter it. They'll always look for another route to go," Neilson said. "We want to make it as difficult as possible to allow this to go on. " Human trafficking is a growing problem worldwide, and Philadelphia is not immune, said Diana Marques, public policy and advocacy manager for Women's Way, a Philadelphia nonprofit that works to empower young women and girls.