2 Arizona Men Arrested in Sting Operation for Attempting to Buy Female Slaves
In a sting operation set up by the FBI, four men were sentenced to long prison terms and hefty fines after being exposed as prepared and eager to subject woman to a lifetime of torture, abuse, and hard work.
The sting began when the FBI gained access to an internet site that offered users the chance to buy female slaves in Malaysia. The site was a scam, and users of the site were defrauded, but the FBI learned that there were a lot of people in the US and around the world that were interested in purchasing slaves.
Agents from the FBI began targeting certain users of the site who seemed committed to the idea of purchasing a slave, emailing them as the “slaver.” Special Agent Kurt Remus, of the FBI’s Phoenix field office, said, “We’d tell them, ‘This is not fantasy, these are humans. If you have any problems with that, get out now.’” He says that scared off many of the would-be slave buyers. But four men continued communication with the “slaver,” eventually traveling with money in hand to what they believed was a slave auction at a residence in Paradise Valley. They brought pictures of their slave dungeons, assuring the “slaver” that there was no way the women would be able to escape. All four had taken action to secure their homes: one way locks, restraining devices, chains, covered windows, soundproof boxes, and cages. The proof the men provided of the extensive preparations they took to contain their would-be slaves was used as evidence by the prosecution.
One of the Arizona men arrested was from Mesa, the other from Tucson. The other two men arrested were from California and Montana. They received prison sentences that ranged from five to nine years, followed with supervised probation.
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Arrested as a Man, Sentenced as a Woman
An unusual trial wrapped up in Florida earlier this month. Harold Seymore, charged with sexually assaulting a woman in 2005, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, plus 10 years of probation. So what made this trial different? Seymore, a man at the time of his 2005 arrest, faced jurors wearing a dress. After struggling with gender identification issues his whole life, Seymore slowly transitioned to a woman over the nearly 10 year period between arrest and sentencing.
Seymore’s conviction took nearly 10 years because Seymore faces serious mental health issues. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features and hallucinations. Not surprisingly, these struggles made it difficult for her to work with an attorney and prepare a defense. Between her arrest and conviction, Seymore was sent to state psychiatric facilities four times by judges who deemed her mentally incompetent.
During stints in jail, Seymore was always housed in a single person cell, away from the male inmates. Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said, “Transgender women are in extreme danger in male prisons. There is a very high rate of violence, including sexual violence. Often, prison officials resort to special housing units, which are nothing more than solitary confinement. It can be extremely psychologically damaging.”
Indeed, Seymore confirmed that her days in prison were very isolating. “23 hours a day in solitary. I got the yard to myself. I have to take showers by myself.”
So how would a case like Seymore’s be handled in Arizona? How are transgender inmates treated here? It’s hard to say. Arizona is one of the few states that do not comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which was implemented in 2012. In general, only transgender inmates that have undergone genital surgery are housed according to their reassigned sex. Transgender inmates are often targets of violence, so “protective custody” measures such as solitary confinement may be used. But, as Margie Diddams of the Arcoiris Liberation Team points out: “There isn’t a safe place in detention for transgender detainees.”
To read more about the Seymore trial, click here.