Eleven-Count Sex Trafficking Indictment in Miami-Dade County, FL

Cinnaminson, NJ-  Anti-human trafficking efforts continue to build momentum nationwide through the ACTeam Initiative.  This case in Florida involved the corruption of Florida’s Summer Work Travel Program through the importation of Kazakhstani university students as prostitutes under false pretense of working as yoga instructors.  By resolution, the FormerFeds Freedom Foundation (FFFF), which was formed in December 2015, has identified human trafficking as one of its enforcement resourcing priorities and hopes to help spur collaborative efforts by local, state, federal and international agencies to combat this law enforcement challenge.

Florida Man Indicted for Operating Sex Trafficking Enterprise

Defendant Allegedly Used Fraudulent Scheme to Import Foreign University Students in Furtherance of Prostitution and Erotic Massage Enterprise

Jeffrey Jason Cooper, 46, of Miami Beach, Florida, was charged late yesterday in an 11-count indictment in the Southern District of Florida with sex trafficking and attempted sex trafficking by fraud, wire fraud, importation of aliens for prostitution or immoral purposes and use of a facility of interstate commerce to operate a prostitution enterprise.

According to allegations in the indictment and criminal complaint, Cooper recruited foreign students from Kazakhstan through the State Department’s Summer Work Travel Program, using false and fraudulent promises of clerical jobs in a fictitious yoga studio in order to bring the students into the United States and advertise them to customers of his prostitution and erotic massage enterprise.  As alleged in the indictment and complaint, Cooper recruited the foreign university students on false pretenses, knowing that no such yoga studio existed.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.  If convicted of sex trafficking, Cooper faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.  The wire fraud charges carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  Importing or attempting to import an alien for immoral purposes carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and using a facility of interstate commerce to promote an unlawful activity carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, Miami-Dade Police Department and North Bay Village, Florida, Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth M. Schlessinger of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

The Southern District of Florida was selected as one of six Phase I Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams) through the interagency ACTeam Initiative of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor.  Designated ACTeams focus on developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion through interagency collaboration among federal prosecutors and federal investigative agencies.

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