KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A local man who attempted to pay an undercover officer $80 to have sex with an 11-year-old girl was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, and the police departments of Independence and Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.
Steven C. Albers, 42, of Kansas City-North, Mo., was sentenced Jan. 6 by U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Western District of Missouri, to 15 years in federal prison without parole for attempted commercial sex trafficking of a child. Albers pleaded guilty on Sept. 16, 2009.
During the weekend of March 5, the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, led by the Independence Police Department, conducted a sting operation targeting local customers who solicit pimps to engage in commercial sex acts with children. The "children" were advertised online at Craig's List. However, no real children were actually involved in the sting.
On the morning of March 5, 2009, Albers responded via e-mail to an ad that advertised "little girls available." The ad's content clearly advertised the children for sex. Albers requested a lunch hour meeting so that he would have time to drive from his office near the Country Club Plaza. The undercover officer responded that he had an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl available for sex. In a follow-up e-mail, Albers said he wanted to spend an hour with an 11-year-old girl at a cost of $100. In an e-mail later that morning, Albers said he wanted to spend half an hour with the 11-year-old girl but would pay an extra $20 to go "bareback," referring to sexual intercourse without a condom, for a total price of $80.
When Albers arrived at the undercover house for the meeting around noon, he provided the cash to the undercover officer and the arrest team came out from the bedroom. Albers took off running out the front door. The arrest team caught him in the neighbor's front yard, and placed him under arrest.
This case is the result of Operation Guardian Angel, a unique undercover law enforcement investigation targeting the demand for child prostitutes in the Kansas City metro area. As a result of this investigation, seven defendants have been convicted in the nation's first-ever federal prosecution of the alleged customers of child prostitution under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
This case was successfully prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes, Western District of Missouri.