Sex Trafficker Used @StateDept’s Summer Work Travel Program in Scheme Targeting Foreign Students

Posted: 1:52 am ET
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On March 24, USDOJ announced the sentencing of Jeffrey Jason Cooper to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking. Cooper recruited foreign university students from Kazakhstan through the Department of State’s Summer Work Travel Program (SWTP), falsely promising them clerical jobs at his fictitious yoga studio.   According to DOJ, he fraudulently induced an educational exchange agency to sponsor the victims’ visas, and caused government officials to issue the victims temporary, non-immigrant “J-1” visas based on Cooper’s false and fraudulent offer of legitimate summer jobs.

Below via USDOJ/FL:

Miami Beach Sex Trafficker Sentenced To 30 Years in Prison For International Trafficking Scheme Targeting Foreign University Students

Defendant Lured Foreign Students on False Promises in Furtherance of Interstate Prostitution and Erotic Massage Enterprise

Chief United States District Court Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida sentenced Jeffrey Jason Cooper, 47, of Miami Beach, Florida, to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and related violations arising from the defendant’s scheme to recruit foreign students on false promises of legitimate summer jobs, and then to advertise them to customers of his prostitution and erotic massage enterprise. Chief Judge Moore also ordered Cooper to pay $8,640.00 in restitution to the victims.

A jury convicted Cooper on Nov. 17, 2016, of five counts of sex trafficking and attempted sex trafficking by fraud, three counts of wire fraud, two counts of importing and attempting to import aliens for prostitution or immoral purposes, and one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to operate a prostitution enterprise. According to evidence presented during the four-day trial, Cooper recruited foreign university students from Kazakhstan through the Department of State’s Summer Work Travel Program, falsely promising them clerical jobs at his fictitious yoga studio. In addition to defrauding the students, Cooper fraudulently induced an educational exchange agency to sponsor the victims’ visas, and caused government officials to issue the victims temporary, non-immigrant “J-1” visas based on Cooper’s false and fraudulent offer of legitimate summer jobs.

After the victims arrived in Miami, Cooper revealed to them for the first time that the yoga studio did not exist and that he expected them to perform erotic massages for customers of his erotic massage and prostitution enterprise. Witnesses testified that the victims, shocked and upset, tried to find work elsewhere but eventually gave up and began working for the defendant.

As established at trial, police began investigating Cooper after neighbors complained he was prostituting women from his apartment complex, and conducted an undercover operation that led to the recovery of the victims, one day before Cooper had scheduled them to travel to Los Angeles, California, where Cooper also operated his prostitution and erotic massage enterprise. When questioned by law enforcement, Cooper claimed that the victims cleaned apartments for him, and characterized his relationship with them as that of an “older brother.” Evidence at trial included records from Backpage.com advertising the victims’ services, and Facebook communications confirming that Cooper recruited the victims on false and fraudulent pretenses, revealing the true nature of his erotic massage and prostitution enterprise only after the victims arrived in the United States.

“The successful prosecution and decades-long sentence imposed on Jeffrey Cooper illustrate the international impact of law enforcement’s united efforts to combat human trafficking – whether by fraud, force or otherwise,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to bring to justice those individuals who knowingly exploit others for their own personal profit.”
[…]
“We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to prevent situations where vulnerable individuals are exploited in human trafficking schemes such as this,” said Christian Schurman, acting director of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). “Because of our global presence, DSS is positioned to work with U.S. and foreign law enforcement to stop those that would manipulate instruments of international travel to profit from selling human beings in this way.”

The case was investigated by HSI and DSS, with assistance from the Prosecutor General’s Office in Kazakhstan; the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Astana, Kazakhstan; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Miami Dade Police Department and the North Bay Village, Florida, Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth M. Schlessinger, who was previously with the Southern District of Florida and is now with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Trial Attorney Matthew T. Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.  Some of the documents including the complaint are also available online here through plainsite.org.

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IG Inspection of Diplomatic Security’s Directorate of International Programs: After Benghazi Chaos, Nothing to See Here

Posted: 2:52 am EDT
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State/OIG inspected the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Directorate of International Programs (State/DS/IP) from June 2 through July 2, 2015.  The February 2016 report was posted online on February 22, 2016. International Programs is tasked with “managing and directing all Bureau of Diplomatic Security programs and policies that protect the Department of State’s international missions and personnel from the threats of terrorism, espionage (human and technical), and crime.”

The directorate has been headed by DAS Christian Schurman, a Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Agent with 27 years of service since September 2014.  In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, the State Department created a new Directorate of High Threat Programs which carved out from DS/IP approximately 30 overseas missions and the liaison and coordination responsibilities for 4 of the 7 DoD combatant commands: U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Structure:

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) International Programs Directorate (DS/IP) provides leadership, support, and oversight of security and law enforcement programs for 199 regional security offices overseas. A Deputy Assistant Secretary leads a staff of approximately 227 Foreign Service, Civil Service, contract, and retired annuitants and oversees an annual budget of more than $1.6 billion for local guard and personal protective services task orders in the Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract at U.S. missions overseas. The directorate consists of three offices with oversight and responsibility, as follows:

— The Office of Special Projects and Coordination provides global oversight of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program and emergency planning for all U.S. diplomatic missions overseas.

— The Office of Overseas Protective Operations (DS/IP/OPO) provides funding, administrative and management oversight, and operational guidance for local guard and surveillance detection contracts, local guard and surveillance detection forces employed under personal service agreements, as well as the WPS contract and the residential security programs at overseas missions.

–The Office of Regional Directors serves as the directorate liaison between Regional Security Offices in the field, other DS directorates, and regional and functional bureaus.

Leadership:  OIG personal questionnaire results scored the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs within the range of scores for the 66 Deputy Assistant Secretaries in 21 domestic inspections conducted during the past 5 years, in 10 of the 13 leadership attributes. He scored well above the prior averages in the areas of vision and goal setting, clarity, and problem solving.

Screen Shot

Summary of Findings:

  • Eighty-three percent of the Regional Security Officers who responded to an OIG field survey expressed satisfaction with timely guidance, direction, and coordination by the Directorate of International Programs on their behalf.
  • Seventy-nine percent of the Deputy Chiefs of Mission who responded to the field survey expressed satisfaction with the frequency and timeliness of communications and guidance from the Directorate of International Programs relating to Deputy Chief of Mission supervision of Regional Security Officers.
  •  Officials interviewed in five of the six regional bureaus stated that communications and coordination with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security have much improved in the aftermath of the attack on Benghazi in September 2012.
  •   The directorate is in the process of coordinating the updates of memoranda of understanding between the Department and the Department of Defense concerning Force Protection Detachments under Chief of Mission authority and the Marine Security Guard detachments.
  •   The Office of Acquisition Management and the Directorate of International Programs entered into an informal agreement to assign contracting officers and contracting specialists within the directorate Office of Overseas Protective Operations 8 years ago to help desk officers and acquisition management specialists oversee more than $1.6 billion in local guard and personal protective services contracts. However, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Office of Acquisition Management have no service level agreement defining the roles and responsibilities of both staffs, which has caused confusion and some misunderstanding.

State OIG made the following recommendations:

OIG made three recommendations to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security that include establishing or updating memoranda of agreement between the Department and the Department of Defense pertaining to the Marine Security Guard program, issuing guidance to Chiefs of Mission on the availability of U.S. military assets during emergency situations and implementing an orientation program for directorate acquisition staff.

OIG also made two recommendations to the Bureau of Administration relating to the implementation of a service level agreement pertaining to the administration of local guard and personal protective services contracts and updating the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System with timely contract performance data.

Read the full report here:

 

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