Jamaican man found guilty of sex trafficking in US, Australia

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MIAMI — A Jamaican man was found guilty Tuesday for his role in a sex trafficking operation. The verdict was the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) offices in Miami, Orlando, New York and Singapore, as well as the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, the Australian Federal Police and the Dubai Police Department.

Damion St. Patrick Baston, 37, of New York, was convicted on three counts of sex trafficking – both in the United States and Australia – five counts of transporting multiple individuals for prostitution, one count of importation of an alien for prostitution, one count of using a passport secured by false statement, one count of aggravated identity theft and nine counts of money laundering. Baston was also found guilty of illegally reentering the United States after being previously removed.

According to court documents Baston victimized seven women in the Middle East, Australia and the United States. Six victims bravely testified at trial that they had been trafficked for sex beginning in 2011 in various cities including Miami. Baston had been ordered removed from the United States in the late 1990s but stole the identity of an American citizen, which he used to obtain a Florida ID card and U.S. passport in that person's name. Baston used this false identity for international travel as he continued to recruit and victimize women.

"This case brought us halfway around the world to ensure justice for the victims," said Alysa D. Erichs, special agent in charge of HSI Miami. "HSI, along with our federal and international law enforcement partners, will continue to work diligently to ensure international boundaries do not hinder the enforcement of justice."

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, "The bravery of the victims in this case is commendable. Their testimony demonstrated that despite the terrible abuse that they suffered from this defendant they are truly survivors. We can never forget that human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits people; it simply cannot be tolerated. This case was the result of the hard work and coordination of the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force in Miami, including our federal prosecutors, as well as that of law enforcement officers and non-governmental organizations in Australia and the Dubai Police Department. It is also the first time we have used the recently enacted extraterritorial jurisdiction provision of our anti-trafficking laws to charge someone for sex trafficking that occurred in another country. Working with our dedicated law enforcement partners here and abroad we have ensured that Baston will be unable to continue to exploit more women."

Special Agent in Charge Wendy Bashnan of Diplomatic Security Service's Miami Field Office noted, "The U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service is committed to advocating justice for the victims and survivors of human trafficking. This case, and its successful prosecution, points out all the more that the cooperative efforts of, and collaboration between, numerous law enforcement agencies, both internationally and domestically, are significant factors in the purpose of the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force to dismantle criminal organizations involved in the victimization of individuals in both sexual and labor trafficking."

Baston is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 5 before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, who presided over the trial. Baston faces between fifteen years and life in prison.

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