The FBI recently put together a fake sex-slave auction in Arizona to try to catch human traffickers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Four men were arrested after they allegedly tried to buy slaves at the FBI-run auction in an affluent Phoenix suburb.
However, the federal government has also been at the center of some criticism due to their extravagent undercover operations used to catch people who may not have committed crimes without the FBI’s help.
“I thought I’d heard of everything until I got this case,” George Klink, a lawyer who represents one of the men, told the Journal. “It’s an awful waste of resources.”
An FBI agent told the Journal he hoped the sting would reveal how common human trafficking is in the United States.
The FBI began contacting the suspects last summer. At least one of them, 59-year-old retired engineer Edward Kandl, had in the past allegedly sent $US5,000 to an organisation for what he termed a “mail-order bride,” according to The Journal. Prosecutors say that the supposed human trafficking organisation turned out to be a “fraud scheme,” but it put Kandl on their radar.
In an email to Kandl, the agents claimed they were auctioning off “females of Asian, Hispanic, and Eastern European ancestry between the ages of 18 and 26,” according to court documents. Kandl’s lawyer claims an FBI agent took his client to a strip club, and that Kandl was reluctant about going to the bogus auction. He went anyway and was arrested, according to The Journal.
There is precedent for cases involving these elaborate undercover operations to be tossed in court. Recently, a federal magistrate judge recommended tossing drug trafficking charges against a man, Jeremy Halgat, because an undercover ATF agent had allegedly created a crime to arrest him, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
This came after the ATF conducted a three-year investigation of the Vagos motorcycle gang, which Halgat was a former officer of. He had allegedly been recorded by the ATF agent saying he wanted no part of trafficking cocaine, according to the Review-Journal.
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