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Virginia Police Officers Protected Sex Trafficking Ring In Exchange For Free Sex With Trafficked Women

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policeman with police car in the background

A federal lawsuit filed against police officers in Virginia’s Fairfax County alleges that police officers protected a sex trafficking ring for years in exchange for sex from the victims.

Civil rights attorney Victor Glasberg filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Costa Rican woman who is being identified as ‘Jane Doe.’

The suit claims that the county's police officers allowed the sex trafficking ring to operate in exchange for free sex with the trafficked women.

According to the suit, which names five defendants including two supervisory officers, a police captain, a police lieutenant, and a chief of police, the officers would tip off the trafficking ring to suspend its online advertisements in advance of sting operations run by the police.

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The complaint states that some of them “secured sexual services from trafficked women, and may also have extorted money from the ring’s leadership.”

Officers also allegedly worked to undermine an investigation into the trafficking ring that was spearheaded by detective William Woolf and were reportedly hostile towards him as he honed in on the operation.

The lawsuit states that Woolf’s direct supervisor, identified as Michael Barbazette, would call Woolf a “social worker” and introduced strict restrictions on Woolf, like requiring daily reports from him and denying overtime work.

A police lieutenant conducted an investigatory interview with Woolf in 2016, in which the lieutenant told Woolf, “he would be branded a liar and his career at Fairfax County Police Department and in law enforcement would be over” if he continued with his investigation.

“If you keep your mouth shut and don't utter the words 'human trafficking' again, all this will disappear, everything will go away, and all the paperwork will disappear,” the lieutenant was quoted telling Woolf in the lawsuit.

“Police officials regularly derided the notion that trafficked women were victims, insisting instead that they were simply prostitutes willingly engaged in unlawful commercial activity,” the lawsuit read.

Glasberg said that he tried for months to negotiate with the county to avoid filing a lawsuit because he believes a trial will be an emotional burden for his client.

“I begged the county to resolve this without litigation. I said, 'Let's get some accountability here,'” Glasberg told AP. "In the end they told me to go pound sand."

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According to the lawsuit, the Costa Rican woman was recruited in Costa Rica to come to America and work as an escort.

The woman said her work as an escort was supposed to consist of going on dates with wealthy men.

However, when the woman arrived in the U.S. in late 2010, the woman who ran the sex trafficking ring, Hazel Sanchez, allegedly took her passport and forced her to engage in commercial sex.

When the woman said she wanted to leave, Sanchez reportedly threatened to harm the woman’s family in Costa Rica, or tell them that she was a prostitute.

Prosecutors in Sanchez's case revealed that women in Sanchez’s operation were required to have sex with up to seventeen customers a day and instructed to comply with requests even for particularly humiliating or dangerous sex acts.

Sanchez pleaded guilty in federal court to running a prostitution ring and was sentenced to over two years in prison.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.