Attorney General Maura Healey charged three men and two women on Friday, April 7 for their involvement in three separate cases of human trafficking across Massachusetts, according to a statement from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.
“No little girl grows up wanting to be involved in a life of sexual exploitation,” Healey said.
Healey has been on the forefront of tackling this issue. In 2011, she filed a bill that, for the first time, made human trafficking for sexual labor or servitude a crime in the Commonwealth, according to a statement from her office.
Since then, Healey has charged 25 people with connection to human trafficking.
“We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement, as well as survivor and advocacy groups, to end the exploitation of people in Massachusetts,” she said.
Just last year, the Boston-based organization My Life My Choice, which seeks to empower survivors of the commercial sex industry, had 143 referrals with an average age of 14.
“We see every day the violence and degradation of the commercial sexual exploitation of children,” said Lisa Goldblatt Grace, cofounder and director. “We are thrilled with the Attorney General’s leadership in regard to ending sex trafficking in the Commonwealth,” she said.
The indictments on Friday included Harold Jack Lucas, 61, of Lowell, and four people from Hubbardston, Revere and Chelsea.
Lowell police arrested Lucas on Jan. 22, and an investigation found that he allegedly gave fentanyl to women in exchange for their participation in sexual acts for pay.
According to Healey, Lucas would distribute the drugs, drive women to various locations, set quotas for the women and collect the money from them.
He was charged with three counts of trafficking persons for sexual servitude, two counts of deriving support from prostitution and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. Lucas was arraigned in Middle Superior Court on April 19.
In 2012, Lucas was arrested and charged for running a prostitution ring from his home and preying on homeless, drug-defendant women, according to a statement from the former Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone. Lucas was sentenced to three years in prison at the time.
Police arrested Elena “Dana” Gaston, 61, of Revere, and Carlos “Tony” Velasquez, 49, of Chelsea, for trafficking women for sex through an online escort service. Revere police initially arrested Gaston on Dec. 2, 2015 after an investigation found that she and Velasquez had profited from the online escort service, Jaas Inc., which Gaston owned and operated. Gaston owned two websites under Jaas Inc.—bluemoonescort.com and tempu.com—and used them to arrange for women to meet with men and provide them with commercial sex. Velasquez was arrested on Dec. 3, 2015 in Bethel, Pennsylvania.
Both were charged with one count of trafficking in persons for sexual servitude, conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual servitude, deriving support from prostitution, and money laundering. Gaston and Velasquez are scheduled for arraignments at a later date in Suffolk Superior Court.
Outside of the Greater Boston area, police arrested Courtney C. Nicholopoulos, 40, and Jon A. Lowell, 45, of Hubbardston, for allegedly working together to recruit women to “swingers’ parties,” and men to “gangbang parties,” falsely promising the women payment of upwards of $12,000, and charging men an entrance fee, according to Healey. Nicholopoulos and Lowell organized these events in hotel rooms across Auburn, Billerica, Northborough, Westminster, and Worcester, according the investigation by the Attorney General and Lowell police.
Worcester and Auburn police arrested them in a sting operation at a Holiday Inn Express in Auburn on July 15, 2015. Both were charged with three counts of trafficking persons for sexual servitude, and three counts for conspiracy to trafficking persons for sexual servitude.
Lowell was additionally charged with three counts of sexual conduct for a fee, after he allegedly bought sex from the women and falsely promised payment to them.
Their arraignments will be at Worcester and Middlesex Superior Courts at later dates.
“These types of indictments are crucial for ending commercial sexual exploitation in our communities. They demonstrate that the illegal sex trade is a thriving marketplace in our own backyard,” said Lina Nealon, founding director of Demand Abolition, an organization that believes the most efficient approach to ending sexual exploitation is targeting the buyers.
“Without sex buyers’ money, there is no incentive for pimps and traffickers to run their criminal networks,” Nealon said.
“To fight this problem, we need a truly holistic approach, which includes law enforcement action like this, more support for victims and an overall reduction in the demand for illegal paid sex,” she said.