Category Archives: crime news

The Real ‘Killing Eve’ -Female ETA Terrorist Was A Sadistic Killer

Real ‘Killing Eve’ Female ETA Terrorist – Sadistic Killer

The terrorist called “the Tigress” had “spectacular” blue eyes and mounds of curly black hair. Idoia López Riaño wore skin-tight jeans and leather jackets, and thought nothing of seducing the officers she was assigned to kill. She was so vain that she once put her entire cell of Basque separatists at risk during an attempted terrorist strike because she was busy admiring herself.

But she was also one of the most bloodthirsty members of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), an armed separatist group involved in a campaign of bombings and assassinations in Spain between 1968 and 2010.

Pursued by Spanish and French authorities for years, López Riaño was little known outside the Basque Country of northern Spain and southwestern France until two weeks ago — when British novelist Luke Jennings told a literary conference in the UK that he modeled Villanelle, his fictional femme fatale, after López Riaño in the novellas that became the basis for the hit BBC America series “Killing Eve.”

“She was clearly a psychopath and completely, completely without empathy,” said Jennings of the real assassin who killed 23 people in the 1980s and ’90s in Spain.

In “Killing Eve” — the third-season finale of which airs tonight — Emmy winner Jodie Comer plays the glamorous and mercurial Villanelle, a hired assassin obsessed with Eve (Sandra Oh), the MI6 operative pursuing her. Villanelle is ruthless but also incredibly vain. After savagely killing her targets — in one case, hoisting a man upside down by a pulley and disemboweling him — Villanelle treats herself to luxury shopping sprees.

López Riaño, who was also known by fellow militants as “the princess,” shared the same habits. “Idoia was, above everything, a slave to her body and to her hair,” writes Juan Manuel Soares Gamboa in a memoir about his years in ETA. “I never met an ETA militant who was more vain than this woman.”

Once, López Riaño missed a target when she “didn’t actually see him because she was so entranced with the window of a fashionable store and her own reflection,” Jennings said.

López Riaño was born in San Sebastian, a city on the northern coast of Spain, in 1964. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a firefighter. Instead, at 18, she was recruited to ETA by her boyfriend, a member, just as the group launched a civil war that would result in more than 800 civilian and military casualties throughout Spain.

“I became involved with ETA at a very young age,” López Riaño told a court. “I was full of romantic and idealistic ideas, and those who recruited me knew straight away how to make me choose: ‘Would you prefer to save a few people as a firefighter or a whole town? We need committed kids like you.’”

In her early days with the group, she had a string of lovers, including a policeman who learned she was part of ETA when he saw her on TV — after she killed his colleagues.

“Idoia was, above everything, a slave to her body and hair.” – Fellow militant Juan Manuel Soares Gamboa

Savvy and ambitious, the young militant longed to prove herself to the upper echelons of the separatist group and, on Nov. 16, 1984, participated in her first killing. Along with her ETA boyfriend Jose Angel Agirre and two other comrades, she stole a car at gunpoint and drove to a restaurant in Irun where their target — French businessman Joseph Couchot, suspected of financing a group of paramilitaries formed by Spanish authorities to kill ETA fighters — was in the middle of his lunch. López Riaño and her comrades shot Couchot six times, “finishing him off with a coup de grace as he lay on the floor,” according to “Dirty War, Clean Hands: The ETA, the GAL and Spanish Democracy” by Paddy Woodworth.

López Riaño was a rising star in ETA, and soon elevated to an elite cadre of assassins. During her first five months with the Madrid Command she participated in 20 murders, including the bombing of the Plaza Republica Dominicana in Madrid on July 14, 1986, which killed 12 people.

But she soon became a nuisance. López Riaño delayed an operation because she lost a shoe, and another had to be postponed because she needed a pregnancy test.

In one instance, she showed up to work without her gun, but was unrepentant when she was chastised by her commanders for putting the entire cell at risk.

“What do you want me to do?” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “I forgot. Period.”

Like Villanelle, she could be reckless. During a hit against a group of military operatives in June 1986, López Riaño grew tired of holding her submachine gun as she waited for a car carrying her targets to pass, and started to shoot indiscriminately, Soares Gamboa recalled. The officers died in a hail of submachine gun fire in the car that was transporting them to dinner.

In addition to her entitled attitude and reluctance to follow basic rules, López Riaño presented another problem for ETA. In his memoir, written with the journalist Matias Antolin, Soares Gamboa recalled that her stunning features — her “spectacular” blue eyes and “voluminous hair” — attracted too much attention on hits.

“It took 20 days of deliberations, 1,000 French francs for brown contact lenses, and countless meetings to convince her that she should alter her physical appearance because we had to go unnoticed,” he said. “She could not move in Madrid because she would attract too much attention … None of us wanted to accompany her.”

Exasperated with her insubordination, constant clubbing and revolving door of lovers, ETA leaders forced López Riaño into exile in Algeria, where she lived under the alias Tania. She continued to wear tight jeans and leather jackets, according to press reports.

After five years, ETA moved her to the south of France, where she was arrested in 1994. In 2001 she was extradited to Spain and later tried for the murders of 23 people. She was originally sentenced to 2,000 years but the maximum any prisoner can serve under Spanish law is 30 years. So she was released in 2017 after 23 years — one for every person she killed.

While in jail, López Riaño married twice. In 2011, she was formally expelled from ETA after publicly condemning their use of violence and issuing an apology to her victims.

Her current whereabouts are unknown. None of the families of her victims believed she was ever sorry for what she had done.

By Isabel Vincent

Porn Industry cashes in on Racism, Sex-Trafficking and Nazis

Porn Racism & Human Trafficking

Pornhub, the world’s most popular porn site, has been ­under fire in recent months for featuring videos of sex-trafficking victims — including a 15-year-old victim from Florida, 118 confirmed cases of child abuse, as well as 22 women allegedly duped and coerced by Michael Pratt, owner of GirlsDoPorn, into performing sex acts on film that were subsequently monetized on a Pornhub partner channel (Pratt has been found civilly liable and now faces federal criminal charges).

Now add another blatant misdeed to the litany of the site’s misdeeds: While the rest of the country grapples with race and racism, Pornhub enables, monetizes and promotes content involving racism in its most extreme forms. The sexualized hatred Pornhub dishes out as masturbation material should alarm a ­nation that otherwise claims to condemn bigotry.

Decent Americans mourned the unjust killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Yet for Pornhub, the tragedy supplied grist for masturbation. Recently approved and uploaded titles include “I Can’t Breathe,” posted by a verified user, with search tags that include “George Floyd” and “choke-out.” A for-profit partner channel on Pornhub called Black Patrol sexualizes ­police brutality against African-Americans with titles such as “White Cops Track Down and F - - k Black Deadbeat Dad.”

Countless other titles on Pornhub feature variations on the N-word and “white master.” ­“Exploited black teens” and “black slave” are suggested search terms deliberately promoted by Pornhub to its users. If the titles repulse you, imagine what the videos do to the ever-younger eyes and minds that daily encounter hardcore, racist porn.

African-Americans aren’t the only community denigrated for pleasure and profit on Pornhub. There are also loads of anti-Semitic content on the site. Pornhub had approved and monetized with ads videos with titles such as “Nazi Rick & Morty Have Sex at Auschwitz” and “Nazi F - - k Camp” ­(involving “Jewish corpses”).

Wildly anti-Semitic videos such as these are uploaded by Pornhub verified users, accounts with ­usernames like “OvenBakedJew” and “Hitler the Jew-Slayer.” Many of these videos have remained on the site for months and years, with comments such as “Blacks, Jews and Muslims — bad seed!” and “Anne Frank was hiding, but I didn’t want to kill her, I just wanted to make a casting-couch Auschwitz edition!”

Pornhub places monetized ads all over these videos, comments and user accounts.

As Calev Myers, deputy president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and ­Jurists, told me, “the violently ­aggressive nature of the anti-Semitic rhetoric on Pornhub dehumanizes the Jewish people and brutally assaults the memory of the Holocaust and all the people who were murdered in it. Those who allow these types of expressions to be broadcast publicly are essentially condoning the Holocaust and its horrors.”

The company insists it has an “extensive team” of moderators dedicated to viewing every video uploaded for illegal content. Yet a horrifying number of abuse videos have made it through, and the firm appears indifferent to racist content. Moderation or not, Pornhub is monetizing extreme forms of racism and anti-Semitism (not to mention videos of trafficking victims).

The abject reality of Pornhub — it makes this content available for 115 million visitors daily and monetizes it to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year — should disturb anyone who cares about the rights of women and children to be free from exploitation and everyone who cares about equality and a ­society free from hatred.

America has made great strides in combating the exploitation of women and girls. We have also overcome historical slavery, legal apartheid and the horrors of anti-Semitism. This is to our credit. Yes, racism and anti-Semitism persist, but they are utterly banned from ­ethical society. And yet there is this underside to our society, where the same awful phenomena are ­ promoted, broadcast, used for pleasure — and monetized for profit. That’s not progress.

Laila Mickelwait is the director of abolition for Exodus Cry, which works to abolish sex trafficking.

UNHRC Member Countries Have Massive Problems with Racism & Police Brutality

UNHRC Member Countries Have Massive Problems with Racism & Police Brutality

Racist and oppressive regimes should recuse themselves from today’s UN Human Rights Council urgent debate on racism and police brutality, says UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights group that monitors the United Nations.

In testimony delivered before the 47-nation council yesterday (see below), UN Watch directed its appeal to such council members as Mauritania, which has up to 500,000 black slaves; Libya, which has up to a million African migrants treated as virtual slaves; and Venezuela, which kills protesters and has been accused of crimes against humanity.

Other council members with egregious records of racism or police brutality who approved today’s urgent debate include Burkina Faso (which initiated the session on behalf of African states), Bangladesh, Cameroon, DR Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Qatar.

Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China are expected to be elected to the council in October.

China recently chaired the UNHRC process for interviewing and recommending the UNHRC’s next expert on freedom of speech, to be appointed in July.

The following statement was delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in testimony before the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its debate on June 16, 2020:

Mr. Chairman,

In the archives of Reverend Martin Luther King, there is a telegram from March 1965, sent to him in Selma, Alabama, by his friend and fellow civil rights leader Morris Abram, our founder, days after Bloody Sunday. Morris Abram condemned the “shameful exhibition of brutality” by police officers at the peaceful protests, and expressed solidarity with the “great cause” of justice and equality.

Sadly, a half century later, UN Watch must again today condemn the shameful exhibition of brutality by police officers, in the killing of George Floyd. We continue to stand unequivocally with the struggle against racism and police brutality.

In the spirit of Morris Abram—who served at the United Nations, and drafted the 1964 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination—UN Watch has been a leading voice at this Human Rights Council, fighting discrimination worldwide. When there was genocide in Darfur, it was UN Watch that organized the global Activist Summit, held here in 2007.

And every year, we campaign against the election of racist and brutal regimes to this Council. Too often, however, because of back-room political deals, they win. The accused become the judges.

If we wish to honor the memory of George Floyd, tomorrow’s urgent debate on racism and police brutality must be serious and credible — and not become a farce.

Accordingly, we propose that Council members which practice systematic racism or police brutality refrain from taking part — that they recuse themselves.

We ask Mauritania: given that you have an estimated 500,000 black slaves, with CNN referring to Mauritania as “slavery’s last stronghold,” will your country recuse itself from this urgent debate on racism against blacks?

We ask Libya: given that your country subjects up to a million African migrants to virtual slavery—trapped in a terrifying cycle of extortion, imprisonment, forced labor and prostitution—will Libya recuse itself?

We ask Eritrea: given that your country has been condemned—by this Council itself—for “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” including arbitrary detention and torture, will Eritrea recuse itself?

We ask Cameroon: given that your country systematically bans peaceful demonstrations, crushes protests by the English-speaking population, and has committed atrocities, including massacring civilians, rape, and burning villages, will Cameroon recuse itself?

We ask the Democratic Republic of Congo: aside from being the rape capital of the world, given that your police just 2 months ago killed 55 people, in a coordinated crackdown on a religious sect, will DRC recuse itself?

We ask Venezuela: given that in just 5 days last year, your forces killed 47 protesters, and arbitrarily detained 900 people, will the Maduro government recuse itself?

Mr. Chairman, when will the UN stop electing racists and oppressors to be judges on human rights?

I thank you.

PROFOUND! On the Unjust Death of George Floyd and Racism in America

The fact is, many in positions of power and influence are oblivious or unaware of the unique challenges disproportionately facing African American communities across this country. We must now acknowledge these challenges and address these disparities that they create. The only way forward is to treat each other with the empathy and respect required of a people who have decided to share a nation—and a future.

The murder of Mr. Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers was an outrageous crime that has shocked this nation. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the unrest of the last two weeks is only about his death or relations with the police.

At its core, this unrest is about the question of what kind of society we are, and what kind of society we want to be.

The murder of Mr. Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers was an outrageous crime that has shocked this nation. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the unrest of the last two weeks is only about his death or relations with the police.

A society is a voluntary agreement by people to live together. For a society to thrive, those in it must believe their interests are protected and their voices are heard. But when a substantial number of people in a society come to believe that they are not valued, they do not matter or they are not wanted, then that society will have big problems.

For decades, African Americans have complained that they feel that their voices are ignored, their problems are not addressed, and their lives are not valued. Given our nation’s history with race, this is an uncomfortable grievance, and one many would rather avoid. But like a bad debt that must eventually be paid, it is a grievance we can no longer ignore.

Like before, the latest unrest has given rise to voices arguing that the foundations of our republic are built on systemic racism and must therefore be brought down. The only difference is that this time claims like these don’t just come from the fringes of our politics. Like before, we also have voices who say that today race is a factor only in individual cases, distinct from our society at large.

Both of these views are wrong.

The foundations of our country are not irredeemably racist. Abolition, women’s suffrage, desegregation, the Civil Rights movement—these were not appeals to overthrow our values, these were demands that we fulfill them. And the Constitution that once considered slaves three-fifths of a human being was ultimately the vehicle used to free them and, eventually, to secure their most basic rights.

We have made tremendous progress on racial equality over the last fifty years, but there remain shocking racial disparities on health, on education, on housing, on economics and criminal justice. And there remains the fundamental truth that, any society in which a substantial percentage of the people believe that they are treated unjustly, is a society that has a problem—a society that can never fulfill its full potential unless those grievances are addressed.

None of this excuses radical, violent extremists’ setting fires, looting buildings, and hurting innocent people. It also shouldn’t lead us to stupid ideas like de-funding the police. And this is not going to be fixed by endless e-mails from corporation after corporation trying to prove how “woke” they are, even as they outsource your job to China. But it’s also not going to be fixed by pretending that race is no longer an issue, and by accusing everyone who disagrees and says it is, of hating America.

Yes, there are still vile racists among us, although few of them will ever openly admit it. But, in twenty-first-century America, few people consider themselves racists. The primary reason why race remains relevant today is that the African American community faces a unique set of challenges that far too few people in positions of power and politics fully understand.

Imagine a child who is raised in a stable home in a safe neighborhood, attends a good school, and has a private tutor to help them prepare for the SAT. Meanwhile, another child—just two miles away—is raised by one parent or even a grandparent, living in substandard housing in a dangerous neighborhood. That child attends a school that is failing—or failing them—and has no access to a private tutor for the SAT. On most days, he doesn’t even have access to WiFi.

Do these two kids really have an equal opportunity to go to the same college?

If one college student has the connections and money to complete unpaid internships in the summer or study abroad, and another student has to work in the summer just so they can afford to go back to school in the fall, do they really have an equal opportunity to get hired when they graduate?

If one young adult does something stupid and gets arrested, his parents can hire good lawyers, and he is able to avoid having a criminal record. Meanwhile, another young adult who does the exact same thing has to use a public defender, pleads guilty to a lesser charge, and now has a criminal record. Do they really have an equal opportunity when they apply for the same job?

When policymakers encourage sending manufacturing jobs that once employed African American men overseas, in an effort to benefit those employed in technology and finance, how can we truly expect widespread prosperity for all Americans? And when a disproportionate number of those with these disadvantages come from one race, while a disproportionate number of those with the advantages comes from another, the result is a racial disparity.

Some suggest these disparities are the result of institutionalized racism or of a deliberate effort designed to harm African Americans. I believe that it’s the product of something far less sinister, but sometimes equally damaging.

It is the result of racial indifference.

The fact is, many in positions of power and influence are oblivious to or unaware of the unique challenges disproportionately facing African American communities across this country. We must now acknowledge these challenges and address these disparities that they create, because when disparities go unaddressed, they become grievances. And when grievances are ignored, it leads to friction, division, and unrest.

By no means do these disparities alone fully capture the entirety of the challenge before us. There still remain points of friction more reminiscent of a different and shameful era in our history, and here too we can suffer from indifference. The vast majority of Americans simply do not personally know the sting that comes from implicit—and sometimes explicit—reactions to the color of your skin.

True progress requires that we listen to the viewpoints of those who do.

Listen to the young man I know, who sees reports of a young man that looks like him, like his uncles, like his grandfather, being murdered by vigilantes in a case of mistaken identity. Who knows that, had they not taken a video of themselves doing this, they would have gotten away with it. Listen, and he will tell you that he feels his life wouldn’t matter either, if he didn’t play professional football.

Listen to the police officer I know, who was pulled over while off duty at least seven times by his own department for no reason. And he will tell you of the humiliation of having to explain this to his teenage son.

Listen to what it feels like for African Americans to see on the news that, when a mother in Miami recently drowned her own autistic son in a terrible tragedy, she tried to cover it up by falsely telling the police that he had been abducted by two African American men demanding drugs.

And listen to what it feels like for them to read about the indictment of the Chief of Police of Biscayne Park, Florida, who—so that he could brag about having a perfect crime-solving record—ordered his officers to arrest anybody black walking through their streets, and if they had any kind of criminal record, pin one of their unsolved crimes on them.

Listen, not because it is your fault. Not because you are to blame. Listen, because this is what people who want to live together in harmony must do. This is the respect we owe one another, as colleagues, as co-workers. This is the empathy that is required of us as neighbors, as friends, and as children of the same God.

This may not be YOUR fault. But this is OUR problem. Until we heal this divide, we will never, ever have the kind of society we want. And we will never fulfill the full promise of our nation.

There is reason for hope. Even in a deeply divided country, where the political and cultural lines that divide us continue to harden, a clear consensus has emerged that we can no longer ignore matters of race in America.

There is reason for hope. Even in a deeply divided country, where the political and cultural lines that divide us continue to harden, a clear consensus has emerged that we can no longer ignore matters of race in America. But it is a fragile consensus. It is already being tested by loud voices appealing to our most basic fears, and those who see this time as an opportunity to advance divisiveness and extreme ideas.

If this is the path we choose, we will all look back at this time with profound regret. We will be left with a society that is even angrier and more divided than it is now. We will be left with an America that no longer resembles the one we honor when we stand during the national anthem. And ironically, we will also be left with an America even further away from the one some kneel to demand.

The only way forward is to treat each other with the empathy and respect required of a people who have decided to share a nation—and a future.

The above text was delivered as a floor speech by Senator Rubio on June 9th, 2020.

Alanis Morissette: ‘Almost Every Woman In The Music Industry Has Been Assaulted, Harassed, Raped’

Music Industry Sex Abuse

Singer Alanis Morissette has made an explosive claim about the music industry by saying that almost every woman in the industry has been assaulted, harassed, or raped.

Speaking with U.K. publication The Sunday Times, Morissette, who began her music career in the 1990s when she was just a teenager, talked about the need for “female rage” in the times we live in.

“Female rage gets such a bad rap, but it’s part of being human,” Morissette said. “Not punching someone in the face, but anger channeled into activism or — heaven forbid — raising your voice, or saying no, or protecting your kids, or being a feminist.”

Morissette, who claims to have suffered sexual abuse going back to the age of three, also chastised the stigma that women face for “waiting” to come forward with an allegation.

“First of all, they didn’t wait,” she said. “Second, they face the threat of losing their job, reputation, or not being believed. At best it’s swept under the rug, at worst you are admonished or fired.”

When it comes to the #MeToo movement’s influence on the music industry, Morissette made her most explosive claim, alleging that a majority of women have suffered abuse in one form or another.

“It hasn’t even begun in the music industry. Almost every woman in the music industry has been assaulted, harassed, raped. It’s ubiquitous — more in music, even, than film,” Morissette said, as reported by Variety. “What, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll? By definition it’s crass, sweaty, and aggressive. But it’s only a matter of time before it has its own explosion of stories.”

Indeed, of all the industries to get hit by #MeToo, the music industry seems to have the least amount of bombshell allegations against top industry figures. Other than Russell Simmons, and to some extent, R. Kelly and Michael Jackson, the industry avoided the kind of earth-shattering shakeups as seen by the film and fashion industries. Writing in Forbes this past January, Shannon Lee even wondered if the music industry would ever have its #MeToo moment.

“Despite a fickle reverence for Kesha, and other pop stars that share their experience of sexual assault, the American public has shown little interest in holding high-profile sex criminals in the music industry accountable,” wrote Lee. “R. Kelly retains a loyal fan base, and rapper and convicted child rapist Tekashi 6ix9ine just signed a new $10M record deal while serving time for racketeering.But, will new rape allegations spark an outpouring of testimonies from other survivors — emboldened by the Me Too Movement years after it caught fire — forcing us to finally pay attention?”

By  Paul Bois

ALERT! 3 Ways Criminals are Exploiting Consumers during Coronavirus Outbreak

Recent reporting from multiple sources indicates an increase in financial fraud schemes, as scammers have seized upon the ever-growing demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)a to target healthcare providers and the general public. Many of the schemes attempt to capitalize on high demand, low supply PPE such as N95 (NIOSH)-approved respirator masks, which are among the required PPE for healthcare personnel responding to COVID-19.

  1. When ordering PPE from online retailers, always verify the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and confirm “https” in the web address, as a lack of a security certification (“https”) may be an indicator that the site is insecure or compromised
  2. Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) NIOSH website to view a list of all NIOSH approved manufacturers of N95 respirator masks and validate approval and certification numbers.
  3. Confirm N95 respirator mask approval status and certification numbers using the NIOSH flyer (Figure 1), the NIOSH website, or the CDC website, which includes examples of identified counterfeit or unapproved N95 respirator masks.

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/usernotices/counterfeitResp.html

As of 11 March 2020, many large U.S. retailers and suppliers have sold out of their N95 respirator mask inventories and are now warning consumers against the rise of counterfeit versions. A survey of safety masks and respirators on one U.S. e-commerce platform found at least one hundred product listings that were counterfeit or unapproved.

If you believe your organization has purchased counterfeit PPE or COVID-19 testing kits, or were the victim of a fraud or scam, please contact your local FBI Field Office and report details regarding this incident to the Internet Crimes Complaints Center at IC3.gov and/or the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at IPRCenter.gov.

NIOSH website at https://cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/default.html

U.S. Suburban Families Unaware of Sex Trafficking of Teen Girls

WASHINGTON—An innocuous encounter with a polite young man at a local movie theater was the unknown beginning step toward being sex trafficked for a young Virginian teen.

Susan Young said her daughter had just celebrated her 15th birthday when she met a boy who was “close in age, polite, and well-mannered” while at the movies with friends.

They swapped phone numbers and Facebook information.

“With this seemingly small exchange of information, Courtney had no way of knowing that her life and the life of her family would change forever,” Young said during a recent Justice Department (DOJ) anti-trafficking event.

“The boy was not who he appeared to be. Rather than a sweet, innocent young man, he was an MS-13 gang member. His job was to recruit young girls under the false pretense of friendship, luring them into the dark world of human trafficking.”

That was seven years ago, and gang-related trafficking is getting worse, according to Bill Woolf, founder of Just Ask Trafficking Prevention.

“One of the most disturbing but rapidly emerging trends is that of gang-controlled sex trafficking,” Woolf said during a congressional hearing on Dec. 11, 2019.

“Gangs have learned that sex trafficking, particularly of minors, is a low-risk, high-yield criminal enterprise that adequately funds their gang operations throughout the United States and around the world.”

Woolf said gangs, “glorified through Hollywood,” often use violence or threats of violence to control their victims.

Young said that once the MS-13 gang members, who attended her daughter’s high school, found out Courtney was trying to break away from them, they took her to a secluded part of the school’s property and gang-raped her.

“They videotaped that, and told her if she ever told anyone what was happening, they would share the video on social media, and with her friends and family,” Young told The Epoch Times.

“And that episode right there is really what started her whole trafficking. Following that, she was immediately trafficked every day after school. She would tell me that she was staying after school for homework club or yoga club. In fact, the gang was taking her to a nearby house and trafficking her, where eight to 10 gentlemen were waiting. And she had to pretend as if nothing had happened.”

As Courtney was being sex-trafficked by the gang, Young said she found out later that her three younger children— two boys, aged 12 and 11, and a girl who was almost 3 at the time—were also victimized.

On Saturday afternoons, Young and her husband would go for a bike ride at a local park for an hour or so. Little did they know that their house was under constant surveillance and, as they walked out the front door, gang members would enter through the back door.

“The boys were threatened at gunpoint. They both were raped at gunpoint, to keep them silent. They even injected our youngest daughter with drugs. They really used the kids very much against each other to make sure no one talked to the parents, or anyone,” Young said.

The gang members would force Courtney out of the house with them by pointing a gun at her younger sister and saying, “Come with us, or we’re going to shoot your sister right now.”

Young said she and her husband didn’t find out that their sons and younger daughter were abused until a year after Courtney’s situation came to light, “because they were still too scared to speak up and afraid that the gang members were going to come back and get them,” she said.

Young, now the director for Just Ask’s Parent Coalition to End Human Trafficking, said her family fell through the cracks.

She said Courtney tried to seek help 22 times with her school resource officer and school counselor. “They didn’t get back to her once.”

“She did not feel safe to talk to my husband and I—at that time, the gang was threatening her, ‘If you do speak with anybody, we’ll kill your parents, we’ll hurt your little brothers, your sister,’” Young said.

“No one knew how to help our family or how to navigate this delicate situation. The failsafes established to protect families and their children did little to nothing for ours—from the school system to law enforcement, court systems, therapists, doctors.”

Courtney went missing twice over a six-month period—the first time for four days and the second time for two weeks,  said Young. Both times, Young said they notified law enforcement and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

“It wasn’t until she was recovered the second time by a law enforcement officer who was trained in the area of human trafficking that we began to fully understand the magnitude of our situation,” she said.

The family moved, and Courtney spent 4 1/2 years in inpatient residential therapy, trying to recover from the trauma, Young said.

“Oftentimes for victims, one of the hardest things for them to do is to reintegrate back into society. And we need to create programs that teach them to do so, how to live a normal life,” she said.

She said it can be daunting for survivors to carry out everyday tasks such as picking out a shirt or deciding what to eat.

“These traffickers have manipulated them and gained so much control over them that they actually lose the ability to think for themselves,” Young said.

Experts say the average lifespan for a child who is pulled into sex trafficking is seven years. Very few get out and even fewer stay out. Drug addiction and violence are par for the course and the trauma bond created by the trafficker can entice a victim back in, even after they’ve been rescued.

Foster Care, Homelessness, and Trafficking

The 2019 State Department trafficking report said children in the U.S. foster care system are at high risk of becoming trafficked.

“Recent reports have consistently indicated that a large number of victims of child sex trafficking were at one time in the foster care system,” the 2019 Trafficking In Persons report states.

In 2019, more than 437,000 children were in foster care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bill Bedrossian is the CEO of Covenant House in California, which provides residential programs and services to children and youth facing homelessness in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

He said that 30 percent to 50 percent of the human trafficking victims that Convenant House works with come from the foster care system, and that traffickers deliberately target foster kids.

“We see traffickers get young victims to try to victimize others through group homes, through foster care networks,” he said.

Bedrossian stressed that child sex trafficking is predominantly a domestic issue. He said 90 percent of the young women who have been trafficked that come through Covenant House are from the United States.

Another group of vulnerable children who are targeted by traffickers are the homeless, including runaways.

Of the more than 23,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2019, 1 in 6 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Bedrossian cited a recent study directed by Convenant House that showed that 20 percent of young people who experience homelessness also experienced human trafficking.

“And so, by default, we’ve been doing victim services for human trafficking victims over the last 50 years,” Bedrossian said. “But in the last five to 10 years, the victimology has become much different. The sophistication of the traffickers has become much different. The insidiousness of the course of this has become much different.”

Young homeless people are “relatively easy” to lure from the streets with promises of love, protection, food, and financial security, the Covenant House website states.

“For a lot of these young people, they literally have begun being trafficked at 8, 9 years old by their family members, by the gangs, by the street life that they’ve been exposed to,” Bedrossian said.

Convictions and New Challenges

The DOJ convicted 501 sex traffickers in fiscal 2018, up from 471 in fiscal 2017. It took down Backpage.com in 2018, the largest internet site that advertised the sex trafficking of minors and adults. But other sites have since sprung up, including those hosted overseas, which presents an extra challenge for law enforcement.

The NCMEC CyberTipline received 1.1 million reports of child online sexual exploitation in 2014; in 2019, it received 16.9 million reports.

But the challenges with technology remain the most complex for law enforcement to contend with. Tech companies are providing users with more applications that have end-to-end encryption; cryptocurrency hides the money trail; and advertising sites are hosted overseas or on the dark web.

The DOJ has said end-to-end encryption without a backdoor for law enforcement stymies criminal investigations. Tech companies say a backdoor presents a security risk for users.

Victim Services and Moving Forward

While the Youngs slipped through the cracks years ago, more organizations have since sprung up to support survivors and their families.

The DOJ has also poured more funding into victim support services, which are becoming a more integral component of the law enforcement side of trafficking.

During fiscal 2018, the DOJ provided $31.2 million for 45 victim service providers—a significant increase from 18 providers receiving $16.2 million in fiscal 2017.

But, as Young said, gangs have also proliferated.

“It was really hard for us to find a safe place to go and kind of hide the family, so to speak, after our situation,” she said. She said they moved to an area that doesn’t have an MS-13 presence, to their knowledge. However, the surrounding areas do.

“We feel as safe as we can be from our situation,” she said. “We just try to stay in the shadows and not draw any attention to ourselves or to our family.”

Even now, she is learning more about what happened. Recently, she found out that her eldest son was also trafficked with Courtney.

“So he and Courtney, life will always be different for them, it will always move at a much slower pace. They will have to deal with complex PTSD and anxiety and depression—the fear that someone will always come back to get them or will be waiting for them—that will never leave them. I’m always looking for new therapies to try for PTSD and try to help them,” she said.

Courtney is now almost 24 and lives close by, while studying to be a veterinarian. The boys are 20 and 19; one is at college working toward a degree in cybersecurity and the other is about to start college. And the youngest daughter is nearly 12.

The traffickers haven’t faced justice.

Young wants people to understand that they shouldn’t wait until they know of a victim before they take notice of the problem.

“I really just want to empower the public, for them to understand and educate themselves that human trafficking is real. It’s happening every single day.”

For Help

NCMEC 24-hour Hotline: 1-800-843-5678

www.missingkids.org

BY CHARLOTTE CUTHBERTSON 

FACTS ABOUT OPIOID CRISIS: China Is Using Fentanyl as ‘Chemical Warfare’

FACTS ABOUT OPIOID CRISIS: China Is Using Fentanyl as ‘Chemical Warfare’

Behind the deadly opioid epidemic ravaging communities across the United States lies a carefully planned strategy by a hostile foreign power that experts describe as a “form of chemical warfare.”

It involves the production and trafficking of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that caused the deaths of more than 32,000 Americans in 2018 alone, and fentanyl-related substances.

China is the “largest source” of illicit fentanyl in the United States, a November 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated. That same commission said that since its 2017 report, they found no “substantive curtailment” of fentanyl flows from China to the United States. They also noted that in “large part, these flows persist due to weak regulations governing pharmaceutical and chemical production in China.”

President Donald Trump has continued to increase his crackdown on fentanyl—he recently ordered all U.S. carriers to “search for and refuse” international mail deliveries of the synthetic opioid pain reliever. Trump specifically named FedEx, Amazon, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Jeff Nyquist, an author and researcher of Chinese and Russian strategy, said China is using fentanyl as a “very effective tool.”

“You could call it a form of chemical warfare,” Nyquist told The Epoch Times. “It opens up a number of opportunities for the penetration of the country, both in terms of laundering money and in terms of blackmail against those who participate in the trade and become corrupt like law enforcement, intelligence, and government officials.” 

China also uses the money generated by the importing of fentanyl to effectively “influence political parties,” according to Nyquist. 

“It opens doors for Chinese influence operations, Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and intelligence services, so that they can get control of certain parts of the U.S.,” he said. 

In August, Trump called out Chinese leader Xi Jinping, accusing him of not doing enough to stop the flow of fentanyl, which enters the United States mostly via international mail.

Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, disputed Trump’s criticism, telling reporters on Sept. 3 that they had started going after illicit fentanyl production, according to state-controlled media. China also denies that most of the illicit fentanyl entering the United States originates in China.

“President Xi said this would stop—it didn’t,” Trump said on Twitter on Aug. 23.

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl surged from around 29,000 in 2017 to more than 32,000 in 2018, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Not all opioid-related deaths in the United States can be blamed on China’s fentanyl export policies, as some come from prescription overdoses, according to Dr. Robert J. Bunker, an adjunct research professor at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

But Bunker told The Epoch Times that China is still “greatly contributing” to America’s opioid epidemic. Bunker described how Beijing is using the trafficking of dangerous drugs to achieve its greater Communist Party goals.

“Contributing to a major health crisis in the U.S., while simultaneously profiting from it would in my mind give long-term CCP plans to establish an authoritarian Chinese global system as a challenge to Western liberal democracy,” he said via email.

“[It’s] a win-win situation for the regime,” he continued. “In fact producing and sending fentanyl to the U.S., which could be considered a low-risk policy of ‘drug warfare,’ is very much in line with the means and methods advocated in the 1999 work ‘Unrestricted Warfare.’”

The book mentioned by Bunker is authored by two of China’s air force colonels, Qiao Liang, and Wang Xiangsui, and published by the People’s Liberation Army.

Local police, fire department, and deputy sheriffs help a man
Local police, fire department, and deputy sheriffs help a man who is overdosing in the Drexel neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 3, 2017. It’s unclear what he overdosed on. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose and deaths are linked to “illegally made fentanyl,” the CDC has said. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Fentanyl has been approved for treating severe pain for conditions such as late-stage cancer. It is prescribed by doctors typically through transdermal patches or lozenges. Fentanyl should only be prescribed by doctors who are experienced in treating pain in cancer patients, according to Medline Plus, an online site by the United States National Library of Medicine. It may become addictive, especially with prolonged use.

A USPS spokesman told The Epoch Times they are “aggressively working” to add in provisions from the STOP Act. The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention legislation, signed in 2018 by Trump, aims to curb the flow of opioids sent through the mail while increasing coordination between USPS and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

USPS has notified China’s postal operations that if any of their shipments don’t contain Advance Electronic Data (AED), they “may be returned at any time,” the spokesman said via email. CBP is also notifying air and ocean carriers to confirm that 100 percent of their postal shipment containers have AED before loading them onto their conveyance.

Recent Seizures

In August, law enforcement seized 30 kilograms (around 66 pounds) of fentanyl, among other narcotics as part of a major arrest operation over the course of three days. As a result, officers arrested 35 suspects for “conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and cocaine base.”

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement that the amount of fentanyl seized was enough to “kill over 14 million people.” One of the suspects in Virginia had ordered the fentanyl from a vendor in Shanghai and was receiving it at his residence through USPS, according to the indictment.

“The last thing we want is for the U.S. Postal Service to become the nation’s largest drug dealer, and there are people way above my pay grade working on that, but absolutely, it’s about putting pressure on the Chinese,” Terwilliger said.

CBP Enforcement Statistics reveal that fiscal year seizures of illicit fentanyl spiked from about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) in 2013 to nearly 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) in 2018. The number of law enforcement fentanyl seizures in the United States also vaulted from about 1,000 in 2013 to more than 59,000 in 2017.

Also, in August, the Mexican navy found 52,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in a container from a Danish ship that was coming from Shanghai. The navy intercepted the unloaded 40-foot container on Aug. 24, at the Port of Cardenas.

“There is clear evidence that fentanyl or fentanyl precursors, chemicals used to make fentanyl is coming from China,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
A fatal dose of fentanyl displayed next to a penny. (DEA)

Two commonly used fentanyl precursors are chemicals called NPP and 4-ANPP. In early 2017, journalist Ben Westhoff started researching the chemicals, finding many advertisements for them all over the internet from different companies. He later determined a majority of those companies were under a Chinese chemical company called Yuancheng, according to an excerpt from his upcoming book “Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic,” an excerpt of which was published in The Atlantic.

Fentanyl Analogs

One of the concerns related to the production of illicit opioids is the creation of fentanyl analogs, products that are similar to fentanyl and also simple to make.

“You can very easily manipulate the molecule and create a new fentanyl-like product that hasn’t been banned, that’s not technically illegal,” Kolodny told The Epoch Times. “Some of the manufacturers, the folks creating the drugs, are aware of that.”

“We saw this with other synthetic drugs that are abused in the U.S., when law enforcement make the drug illegal or when they ban the molecule,” he said. “In some cases, fentanyl analogs are even stronger than fentanyl. There’s an analog called carfentanil, which is even more potent than fentanyl.” 

Carfentanil has a quantitative potency “approximately 10,000 times that of morphine and 100 times that of fentanyl,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Just one microgram is needed for carfentanil to affect a human. The drug is “one of the most potent opioids known” and is marketed under the trade name Wildnil “as a general anesthetic agent for large animals.”

“Sometimes, it’s hard for law enforcement to keep up with the chemist,” Kolodny added. 

A bill dubbed the SOFA Act or the “Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act,” has yet to pass Congress. The act was introduced in May by Republican senators and would give law enforcement “enhanced tools to combat the opioid epidemic and close a loophole in current law that makes it difficult to prosecute crimes involving some synthetic opioids.”

Kolodny said pharmaceutical industries have been lobbying to stop any legislation meant to restrict fentanyl analogs “because these are products they are trying to bring to market.” 

In August, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572.1 million to the state for deceitfully marketing addictive opioids. The sum was less than what investors had expected, according to Reuters, which resulted in shares of the multinational corporation rising in value.

“We should be doing everything we can to keep fentanyl out of the country,” Kolodny said. “We should be doing everything we can to ban fentanyl analogs.” 

Billion-Dollar Grants

As part of the Trump administration’s latest efforts to combat the opioid crisis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Sept. 4 announced nearly $2 billion in funding to states.

The funding would expand access to treatment and also support near-real-time data on the drug overdose crisis, according to a release.

In announcing the move, White House counsel Kellyanne Conway told reporters in a conference call that their administration is trying to interject the word “fentanyl” into the “everyday lexicon” as part of their efforts to increase awareness.

Data suggests that of the approximately 2 million Americans suffering from opioid use disorder, approximately 1.27 million of them are now receiving medication-assisted treatment, according to the HHS.

“Central to our effort to stop the flood of fentanyl and other illicit drugs is our unprecedented support for law enforcement and their interdiction efforts,” she said.

Conway then brought up the DHS seizures of fentanyl in 2018, which totaled an equivalent of 1.2 billion lethal doses.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that is enough to have killed every American four times,” she told reporters.

Just weeks ago, the White House released a series of private-sector advisories aimed to help businesses protect themselves and their supply chains from inadvertently trafficking fentanyl and synthetic opioids.

The four advisories aim to stem the production and sale of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and other synthetic opioids. The advisories focus on the manufacturing, marketing, movement, and monetary aspects of illicit fentanyl.

In March 2018, the Interior Department created a task force aimed to specifically combat the crisis on tribal lands. Since then, the department has arrested more than 422 individuals and seized 4,000 pounds of illegal drugs worth $12 million on the street, including more than 35,000 fentanyl pills.

Conway, on the conference call, described the epidemic of pain relievers as an “opioid and fentanyl crisis.”

BY BOWEN XIAO

ALERT! DOJ Summit on Child Sex Trafficking: Mothers as Pimps, Suburban families and lazy Social Services

(L-R) Barbara Amaya, sex trafficking survivor, Erica MacDonald, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, and Barbara Jean Wilson, sex trafficking survivor, at the Summit on Combating Human Trafficking at the Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 14, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Barbara Jean Wilson was 8 years old when she was first trafficked. Her mother was the pimp.

“Instead of me going out, she would bring the men home,” Wilson said during a trafficking summit at the Justice Department on Jan. 14.

“I was fed drugs. I was fed alcohol. The one time that I had the courage to say ‘No,’ one of them put a gun to my head and said, ‘No one tells me no.’”

Wilson said she would plead with her mother for it to stop, but was told that’s how the rent was getting paid.

“And so I had nowhere to seek help and I just dealt with it. That’s how I lived,” she said.

Wilson was eventually thrown out of her home, and to survive, she got deeper into drugs and did the only thing she knew—sell her body.

By 15, she had a daughter to support. At around 17, Wilson overdosed on drugs, and ironically, that’s what she said saved her.

“The Holy Spirit came to me and said, ‘Enough is enough,” she said. “And I made a promise to God that if he got me through it, I would spend the rest of my life sharing my story to help other victims … [and] bring understanding and  awareness to those who don’t know what we go through.”

She’s been doing so ever since, but the pain is still evident. Despite what her mother put her through, she said she has forgiven her.

“She asked for forgiveness. I forgave her. I forgave my abusers. … In order for me to go forth, I had to forgive,” she said. “But it damaged me in a lot of ways, damaged me in so many ways.”

Epoch Times Photo
Barbara Jean Wilson, sex trafficking survivor, at a human trafficking event at the Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 14, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Homelessness and Trafficking

Bill Bedrossian, CEO of Covenant House in California, said his organization is the largest provider for homeless youth in the United States.

“And by default, we’ve become the largest provider of housing for victims of human trafficking,” he said. “For a lot of these young people, they literally have begun being trafficked at 8, 9 years old by their family members, by the gangs, by the street life that they’ve been exposed to.”

A recent study conducted by Covenant House found that 20 percent of young people who experience homelessness are sex trafficked, Bedrossian said.

He said he has noticed a change over the past five to 10 years in both the sophistication of the traffickers and the insidiousness of the crime.

Kay Duffield, executive director of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative, said that in about 84 percent of sex trafficking cases, the trafficker uses the internet to sell their victims.

“One sex buyer said that buying sex was as easy as going online and ordering a pizza,” she said.

‘Traffickers Are Predators’

Barbara Amaya grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, in a home she said looked beautiful on the outside, but wasn’t on the inside.

Amaya said she was abused and ended up going through “all the systems,” including child welfare, foster care, and juvenile justice. By 12, she was a habitual runaway.

“I wasn’t just running away, I was running to find something,” she said. “And traffickers are predators. They prey upon the vulnerable.”

One day she was approached by a young woman at Dupont Circle in Washington, who suggested she come home with her to get food.

“She took me back to her place. And there was her boyfriend, who was actually her trafficker,” Amaya said. “They started training me for purposes of prostitution. I was 12 years old.”

Soon after, she was sold to a man who took her to New York and trafficked her out with other minors he had bought from all over the country.

“He had many other young people in different hotels around New York. He had two apartments in Manhattan on either side—East Side, West Side, and he would move everybody all around all the time to keep everyone off balance and isolated in that world,” she said.

Her trafficker became violent if she didn’t bring in enough money.

“He would beat me with a wire coat hanger … throw me down the stairs, throw me out of a car,” Amaya said.

“The violence occurred in his hands and also at the buyer’s hands. I’ve been shot, I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been everything that you could probably think of—or not think of. When someone thinks they’re buying you, they think they can do whatever they want to do to you.”

Epoch Times Photo
Barbara Amaya, sex trafficking survivor, at the Summit on Combating Human Trafficking at the Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 14, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

At around 15 or 16, Amaya was hooked on heroin and in Rikers Island prison. She broke out of the brainwashing fog long enough to tell the authorities her real name and age and asked them to call her parents. They came back and said her parents were on their way.

“I had all this flood of emotions because I’d been gone for so many years and I don’t know what they told my parents. I had shame, horrible shame—this is all my fault,” she recalled.

“I opened the door to the room. And I walked into the room, and it was my trafficker standing there.”

Amaya said she still doesn’t know how her trafficker knew to be there. But she was desperate for a heroin fix and left with him, missing her parents by 10 minutes. It put her back into the life for another seven years.

“[The drugs] numbed my brain and my body to the existence that I was suffering. So by the time I was 23, 24, I’m five foot nine, 99 pounds, probably going to die. I knew that,” she said. “I knew I had to do something and I pulled myself into a drug clinic over on the Lower East Side.”

She recalled vividly how the receptionist treated her “like a human being.”

“She cared. I felt like I mattered. I don’t remember feeling like that, maybe ever,” Amaya said. “And because of her, taking time out of her day to treat me like a human being, she propelled me out of New York City.”

Getting Out

Wilson said victims of sex trafficking should know they can get out and go on to live a productive life.

“Don’t be ashamed of what you were put through, because you’re not to blame,” she said. “That is not the life that anyone should have to live. And especially a child.

“When you see those young girls and those young boys out there on the street, they’re not out there because they want to be. They’re out there because they have no place to go. They don’t trust anyone.”

Bedrossian said a common thread in homeless and trafficked youth is that they crave love and belonging.

“We all long for significance in our lives,” he said. “The No. 1 deterrent from a young person to become trafficked is having a meaningful relationship, positive relationship with an adult in their life.”

BY CHARLOTTE CUTHBERTSON