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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

January 11th is National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness

CLEVELAND – In recognition of January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio is encouraging residents to continue the fight against human trafficking by raising awareness and reporting tips to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

“Addressing human trafficking in Northern Ohio remains a top priority for our office and law enforcement partners,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler. “In order for us to keep the pressure on traffickers, we need the public’s help to report tips to law enforcement. Only through a collaborative approach can we help end this insidious crime.” January 11th is recognized as National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness. Today, communities around the country #WearBlue to help raise awareness and encourage others to help prevent trafficking by reporting tips to law enforcement.

Over the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio has announced several high-profile human trafficking convictions and sentencings, including:

U.S. v. Jason S. Huffman (4:21-cr-348). On September 27, 2022, Jason Huffman was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a five-count charging him with transportation of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual conduct, possession of child pornography. and sexual exploitation of children.

In Feb. 2021, law enforcement authorities executed a search warrant at Huffman’s Youngstown-area residence and found images of child pornography on multiple cellphones belonging to Huffman, including images Huffman had created of a minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

U.S. v. Reuben Rankin (4:19-cr-716). On July 12, 2022, Reuben Rankin was sentenced to 40 years in prison following convictions of sex trafficking of a minor, production of child pornography, assaulting a federal agent with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, in May 2019, Rankin engaged in sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography in order to raise money to purchase drugs, clothing, and an SUV. Rankin relied heavily on income earned from commercial sex acts to fund his lifestyle.

U.S. v. Larrien Brown-Austin (5:20-cr-114). On May 24, 2022, Larrien Brown-Austin was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy that forced victims to perform sex acts in exchange for money.

According to court records, from June through August of 2018, Brown-Austin lived at a residence in Canton provided by his father that he used to facilitate commercial sex acts. In June of 2018, Brown-Austin met two victims and forced both to live at the residence, perform sex acts in exchange for money and provide him with the profits.

U.S. v. Holden Gallagher (3:18-cr-479). In March 2022, Holden Gallagher was sentenced to 30 years in prison and a lifetime supervised release after he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child, receipt, and distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography.

Court documents state that on July 31, 2015, law enforcement investigators obtained several electronic devices, including a laptop and hard drive, which contained numerous files of child pornography from Gallagher’s Sylvania area residence. Additionally, investigators determined that some of the images contained a depiction of a minor known to Gallagher and that Gallagher had corresponded with the minor victim and gotten the minor to produce images of child pornography.

In addition, to support the victims of human trafficking, various organizations in the Northern District of Ohio were awarded more than $5.7 million in grant funding in the previous fiscal year from the Department of Justice to provide services and aid, including:

  • $2.5 million to The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Taskforce, led by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO).

  • $799,355 awarded to Advocating Opportunity (AO) in Toledo to provide services, support, and advocacy for trafficked and exploited people.

  • $399,084 awarded to the Rape Crisis Center in Akron to enhance existing anti-human trafficking work.

In February 2022, the Attorney General announced the release of the Justice Department’s new National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

If you believe that you or someone you know may be a victim of human trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

Contact Daniel Ball


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