Finally a Trafficking Case...But What Is That?

As Damon Agnos references below, authorities have finally found a case for the state's six-year-old human trafficking law. The King County Prosecutor's office last week charged DeShawn "Cash Money" Clark with the crime as part of an ongoing case it launched in November against several defendants reputedly associated with a gang called the "West Side Street Mobb."

Even back in 2004, I noted how strange it was that no cases had been prosecuted under the then year-and-a-half-old law, when human trafficking was supposedly such a big problem here and elsewhere. In fact, it seemed the numbers around human trafficking were inflated, in part because of a political agenda uniting feminists and religious conservatives, and in part because "human trafficking" is a squishy concept that some would apply, for instance, to all cases of pimping. I was therefore not surprised when court papers reveal Clark's case to revolve around just that.

It seems like the routine kind of ugliness one would expect of pimping. Clark is alleged to have preyed upon his longtime relationship with an on-again, off-again girlfriend. According to the court papers, he and his buddies promised to take care of her if she became a prostitute and gave them the proceeds. They stashed her at various hotels, where she would keep her sex earnings in the rooms' bibles, and advertised her services on Craigslist. Clark used her for sex, and sometimes would act nice. At other times, he would beat her, like when she wasn't making enough money for him. The West Side Street Mob used other women the same way, according to the court papers.

Criminal activity for sure, and maybe it qualifies as human trafficking, which according to the broadly-written state law involves recruiting, harboring or obtaining another person for the purposes of "forced labor." But if anybody thinks authorities are finally prosecuting some new and exotic type of crime, this isn't it.

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