First Case of Human Trafficking in Rhode Island to be Prosecuted

florida-lawsA human trafficking case in Providence leads to the indictment of two men.
By WJAR Staff
Published: December 10, 2010

A Providence Grand Jury has indicted two New York men, 23 year old Andy Fakhoury and 23 year old Joseph Defeis for allegedly recruiting and transporting young women to RI for prostitution.

The young tenants lived at 123 Pinehurst Avenue in Providence and fit in nicely near Providence College, but their activities quickly attracted attention. “Random people coming in and out of the house, a lot of money coming through,” said neighbor Ryan Reeves. “We knew a bunch of kids on the street, so it was kind of strange to see a Range Rover in the driveway on a street like this, they were young kids like our age,” added neighbor Jason Pratt.

Police said they were tipped off by investigators in Yonkers NY that a 19 year old woman was being held as a prostitute. Two more alleged victims were found.  Police said the women were forced to have sex with multiple partners, earning $1,000 to $1,500 each day.

“It’s unfortunate and it made me sick to know it happened in Elmhurst,” said state representative Joanne Giannini (D) Providence.  Before last year, inside prostitution and human trafficking crimes would not have been prosecuted in RI.  It was considered a loophole until Giannini kept pushing, eventually getting a law passed.  “What we wanted to do was to be able to help them as victims, and not persecute them but help them and stop this modern day slavery.”

In 2005, an NBC 10 I Team investigation showed evidence of human trafficking in Providence spa’s.  Photos of worn mattresses and luggage highlight trademarks of the industry, an industry often hidden.  “Pimps, because that’s what they are, target vulnerable women, they target vulnerable teenagers specifically,” said Laura Pisaturo, Director of Day One, a sexual assault and trauma resource center in Providence.

Day One helped some of the alleged victims after the police moved in.

Both suspects are due in court December 29th.

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