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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

3 men named in Connecticut indictment for alleged prostitution of minors

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging three men for their alleged involvement in an interstate prostitution conspiracy that included the sex trafficking of two minor victims. The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Norwalk Police Department.

The indictment alleges that, between October and December 2010, Theodore Briggs, also known as "PeeJaye," 22, of Norwalk, Giovanni Vazquez, also known as "Screech," 23, of Norwalk, and Harry Franklin, also known as "Streets" and "Uncle Stacks," 26, of the Bronx, New York, and others, conspired to transport two minor victims across state lines with the intent that the minors would engage in prostitution. The alleged victims were 14-years-old and 17-years-old at the time.

The indictment further alleges that Briggs, Vasquez and Franklin transported other victims across state lines to engage in prostitution.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to prosecuting sex trafficking crimes, particularly when those crimes involve the victimization of minors," stated U.S. Attorney Fein. "I want to acknowledge ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Norwalk Police Department for their vigilance in investigating this matter."

"Working with our state and local law enforcement partners in the area of sexual exploitation investigations is a commitment we continue to make," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. Foucart oversees ICE HSI throughout New England. "Investigating these crimes demonstrates our commitment to protecting the well-being of those most innocent, our children."

The indictment charges Briggs, Vasquez, and Franklin each with one count of conspiracy to transport minors to engage in prostitution. The indictment also charges Briggs and Vazquez with two counts, and Franklin with one count of transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution. If convicted on any of these counts, the defendants face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

The indictment also charges Briggs with three counts and Vazquez and Franklin each with one count of transportation of a person to engage in prostitution. This charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years on each count.

The indictment was returned on February 3 and was unsealed today following Franklin's arrest and initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport. He is detained pending a hearing that is scheduled for February 10. Briggs is in state custody on unrelated charges. Vazquez has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on January 20.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S.Attorney Alina P. Reynolds.