Exchange Students Turned Sex Workers: Young People From Kazakhstan Forced In Sex Trafficking Scheme In The US
Young people in Kazakhstan were told that they will be exchange students in the United States. Little did they know that they are walking towards a sex trafficking scheme.
The college students were recruited by Jeffrey Jason Cooper, 46, from Kazakhstan to Florida in 2011, the Washington Post wrote. They were told that they will be working at a yoga studio near Miami doing clerical duties, an opportunity that will allow the foreigners to be immersed in the American culture and interact with the people.
Taking Advantage Of The Summer Work Travel Program
Cooper posed as Dr. Janardana Dasa, the owner and director of Janardana's Yoga and Wellness S.A. His indictment stated that Cooper recruited college students from Kazakhstan through the U.S. State Department's Summer Work Travel Program, which gives foreign students a chance to live and work in the U.S. during their college summer vacation.
For students to be eligible for the Summer Work Travel Program, they must be proficient in English and have finished at least one semester of their post-secondary education. The program warns international exchange companies against jobs linked with human trafficking, including modeling agencies and janitorial and housekeeping agencies.
Cooper was indicted in the Southern District of Florida this week on charges of sex trafficking, wire fraud and bringing foreigners to the U.S. for prostitution. He will be charged for using a facility for illegal sex operations as well.
Sex In Exchange For Money
After the students from Kazakhstan arrived in Florida, Cooper told them that there was no yoga facility and they will be performing erotic massages and sex acts in exchange for money, the indictment noted. Cooper's female companions taught the foreign nationals how to perform their sexual duties.
In June 2011, Cooper was questioned by the placement company whether the foreign students were forced to do sensual massages, but he denied it. In August 2011, two young women were rescued from the facility by law enforcement officials, Newsweek reported.
Cooper will have a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted for the sex trafficking charges, the Washington Post wrote. The wire fraud charges will put Cooper in prison for a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Sex Trafficking Data
A study found that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal body globally, according to UCLA. Around 21 million women, men, girls, boys and transgender people were trafficked around the world.
Seventy-four percent (15.4 million) of that estimation are adults, while 26 percent (5.5 million) are children younger than 18. Out of these numbers, women and girls are the most trafficked individuals.