The New York Criminal Law Blog

Livery Cab Sex Trafficking; RICO a Possibility?

Their story could serve as a plot line for HBO's The Wire if they ever bring the show back for a sixth season. After an extensive investigation that began with routine prostitution arrests and utilized wire taps and follow-the-money techniques, the District Attorney's office, New York Police Department, and the Homeland Security took down an intricate criminal enterprise over the weekend, reports NBC New York.

The authorities have charged six cab drivers with promoting prostitution and arrested a father-son duo, Vincent George Sr. and Jr., for being the leaders of a sex trafficking ring that brought women into the country, forced them into prostitution, and tattooed them with their pimps' names. The cab drivers transported the prostitutes and negotiated rates with the customers.

Though no RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges have yet been pursued, one wonders if that might be a possibility.

RICO allows the government to prosecute organized criminal organizations. In order to convict under RICO, the government must prove at least two RICO predicate offenses within a set time period. Some of the offenses that could be used include forging of passports and identification documents, misuse of visas, trafficking in persons, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully, money laundering, and wire fraud.

The George family was allegedly bringing women into the country and forcing them into prostitution. In order to do so successfully, pretty much every single one of the listed offenses regarding forging identification and immigration documents would have to be violated.

The father and son also owned over ten vehicles and multiple properties. They would have had to be laundering the prostitution money to be able to cleanly purchase all of those things without the IRS investigating.

So far, all that has been reported are the human trafficking charges, which carry one to twenty-five years in prison. It is quite possible, however, that this is simply the beginning. It would not be surprising to see the IRS go after them for tax evasion as well.

Meanwhile, at least one of the cab drivers might want to consider finding a new Manhattan criminal lawyer. His lawyer, Bob Walter, told the New York Daily News that his client was just trying to help people and stated, "What livery car driver doesn't know where you can get a girl?" Seriously? His statement to the press essentially admitted guilt but excused it because everyone does it.

This also is not the end of the police investigation. The District Attorney still plans on going after the demand side of the equation, by arresting the customers of the Vincent George sex trafficking ring that they are able to identify through wire taps and further investigation.

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