Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Iowa Man Convicted of Human Trafficking, Sold Teens In Prostitution

DES MOINES, Iowa — The first person to be convicted under Iowa's human trafficking law was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.

Leonard Russell was found guilty of two counts of human trafficking, two counts of pandering and a count of ongoing criminal conduct during a September trial in Crawford County.

The 37-year-old was sentenced Monday in Crawford County District Court to 25 years on the ongoing criminal conduct charge, and 10 years on each of the other four charges — with all the sentences to be served concurrently. He was also fined $5,000.

Prosecutors said Russell, who has used addresses in Sioux City and Omaha, Neb., recruited and harbored two Nebraska girls last year for commercial sexual activity, including prostitution and performing at strip clubs. They said the girls, ages 15 and 16, were runaways.

Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement that the case helped officials understand that human trafficking is a much bigger problem in Iowa than many realized.

"It can be especially perilous for young people and disadvantaged kids, and it can occur in small towns," he said. "The underground nature of human trafficking makes it hard to fight, but the trafficking law is a valuable new tool and we will use it."

Read more here.

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