It started with an outcry from Allie,* who was pimped 2 years ago by a violent trafficker who went by the name “Julian.”* She told Detective John Patterson,* “I want to get out of this, because of what Julian’s done to me. And he did it to a 15 year old girl, too.” Similar cases of this scope—which grew to 21 identified victims—would take a year; Detective Patterson built this case in about 3 months. Detective Patterson credits the importance of good experience, trainings, and technology tools like Traffic Jam.
The Violent Pimp
Julian was a violent pimp, and he required a $1,500 per day quota for each victim; he would beat them if they didn’t bring home that money each night. He had been arrested many times in the past; for aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, running his victims over with a car several times. For strangling one of his victims until she passed out. For punching and assaulting others. But force, fraud, and coercion aren’t always physical; he also threatened to kill their children if they didn’t work for him.
Julian recruited his victims in person and on social media apps like Instagram. He broke down one victim by recruiting her to work as a stripper, and then repeatedly raping her over a number of days. When she still refused to sell sex for him, he withheld food until she broke down and agreed. When she tried to escape, he used a location tracking app on her phone to chase her down. He found her, assaulted her, and put her back to work. She couldn’t work for a few more days, because customers would notice her black eye.
Detective Patterson used Allie’s testimony to begin piecing together the case. By searching victims’ Facebook photos through Traffic Jam’s FaceSearch, he was able to find their ads posted across the country, from the South all the way up to Pennsylvania and back. He said, “I used Traffic Jam to map out the course that Allie exactly described.”
He was searching for Sarah,* an underage victim Allie had told him about. He scrolled through Sarah’s Instagram, and found the most recent pictures she posted of herself, which were over 2 years old, from when she was fifteen. He said, “I didn’t think it would lead to anything, because it was such an old photo. But I thought I’d run it through FaceSearch just in case. I couldn’t believe it when the 2 year old photo returned top matches in FaceSearch that looked just like her.” He saw in the Traffic Jam trail that she was currently posting in California, but had posted in his city in the months before. Through use of FaceSearch and confirmation of the locations/times in the Traffic Jam trail, Detective Patterson successfully identified Sarah using a photo that was 2 years old.
Allie told him about another victim, Sammy,* and her Facebook account. He found some year-old pictures of Sammy on her Facebook profile and uploaded them into FaceSearch to see if he could find a match. FaceSearch returned top matches, none of which looked like Sammy. Patterson said, “I thought the matches weren’t her, they just didn’t look like her.” He sanity-checked the top matches, by checking the timing and location of the ads. Then, he said, “I found that one of the phone numbers in the ad was registered to her name. That made me realize that the pictures from the FaceSearch results were a correct match, but I didn’t recognize her at first because she had changed her appearance so drastically.” When the appearance of the victim looked completely different, FaceSearch was still able to make a positive match, in seconds.
Where Are They Now
By using various technology tools like Traffic Jam, paired with victim interviews and evidence gathered through search warrants, Detective Patterson determined the 21 victims Julian had exploited over a number of years. Patterson assembled a history of money transfers from the victims to their pimp. He confirmed that many of Julian’s victims were working in different states (as correlated to their ads) and wiring their earnings from out of state back to Julian. He determined Julian was making about $15,000 a month, from 2 girls alone; and he had a total of 21 victims over the span of the investigation.
The police department received an arrest warrant for Julian for 6 felonies, which they served him when he came out of the house on trash day. Detectives intervened right after he had threatened to kill another victim’s baby if she didn’t keep working for him. This violent trafficker is currently in jail without bail, awaiting prosecution and potential life in prison for his crimes, all thanks to the tireless efforts of Detective Patterson and his team.
* names have been changed to protect individual’s identity
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