FBI New York Recognizes Crime Victims’ Rights Week and Honors Those Who Persevere
NEW YORK, NY—Every year federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies honor victims of crime to draw attention to those who have suffered, offer hope to anyone who is still suffering, while promoting their rights and recognizing those who advocate on their behalf. This year, many of the events we rely on to draw attention to this issue are not happening, but the FBI’s New York Office will not forget. As always, we are committed to serving crime victims, and especially those who may believe they can’t get help right now.
Victims of human trafficking are some of the most vulnerable members in our society. Many are children who are forced into the sex trade by criminals who coerce, drug, assault, and mentally abuse them. This despicable behavior continues each day in the region and across the country. The New York FBI/NYPD Joint Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force agents, detectives, and victims’ specialists are actively working to get these children out of their current situations, guide them to help from our still open partner non-governmental organizations, and assist them in returning to normal lives. Below are summaries of some recent cases that have been successfully adjudicated in the New York City area.
Sean Merchant; et al.
From approximately January 2016 through August 2018, multiple minor and adult females were identified to have engaged in prostitution for Sean Merchant, aka “Bronxwood,” and/or his associates, Jermain Myrie, Reuben Sands, Martique Mcgriff, and Steven Lesane, in locations throughout the Bronx, Yonkers, and Mount Vernon, New York. In many cases, violence and drugs were used to control the victims. Merchant and Myrie are believed to be members of the Bloods street gang. All five individuals were arrested between August and December 2018 and pleaded guilty by late 2019.
Carlton Vanier; et. al.
From approximately 2010 through December 2018, several minor and adult females were identified to have engaged in prostitution for Carlton Vanier, aka “Lucky,” and Ruben Morcigio, aka “El Diablo,” in locations throughout the Bronx. In many cases, violence and drugs were used to control the victims.
Vanier is believed to be affiliated with members of the Bloods street gang, and Morciglio with the Trinitarios. Vanier and Morciglio were arrested in December 2018 and pleaded guilty by late 2019. Vanier and Morciglio are facing 360 months to life in prison. All three investigations are part of Operation Hard-Knock, the FBI/NYPD Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force’s initiative to identify sex trafficking victims in the foster care and social services system. Nineteen individuals were arrested from August 2018 through December 2018 as part of this initiative.
Blood Sweat and Tears
On August 15, 2018, Jamel Goddard, aka “Payroll,” was sentence to over 24 years (292 months) in prison for his role as the leader of a sex trafficking conspiracy. Goddard required the females he trafficked, including a 15-year-old girl, to engage in sex acts with multiple customers in a single day, operating from hotels rooms in the Bronx, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Florida. Goddard employed physical violence and threats of force to exert control over his victims.
These investigations were prosecuted through the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York, and investigated by the FBI/NYPD Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, with the assistance of the New York City Department of Corrections, the New York City Human Resource Administration, the United States Marshal’s Service, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.
Each of these cases involved our Victim Specialists helping the victims get food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and any other services they needed once recovered from their situations. The FBI New York works with dozens of community and faith-based organizations to assist these victims every day. Here is the link to agencies that are currently offering services:
The FBI’s New York Office is hosting a Twitter chat beginning at noon Friday, April 24, for anyone who has questions regarding human trafficking. Questions should be tweeted to us with the #AskFBINewYork hashtag.
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger call 911 immediately. If you believe you’ve been the target or victim of a crime, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI New York Field Office at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.