Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced a state grand jury indicted three individuals for allegedly trafficking a missing juvenile for commercial sex.
During a three-month investigation, detectives from the New Jersey State Police discovered that the defendants were allegedly operating a human trafficking network out of Camden County in which they trafficked the 17-year-old victim.
The Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Bureau obtained an indictment Thursday charging Marquise D. Ogawa, 28, of Lawnside Chyaire J. Lee, 26, of Lawnside and Jazmin L. Scott, 21, of Collingswood with first-degree conspiracy, first-degree human trafficking, second-degree facilitating human trafficking, first-degree promoting prostitution, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Ogawa is also charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.
The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Unit.
The indictment alleges that between August 2021 and November 2021, Ogawa, Lee, and Scott recruited, harbored and transported the victim for purposes of trafficking the victim for commercial sex.
“Human trafficking is a crime that often occurs in the shadows and is difficult to detect,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin.
“We are committed to collaborating with the State Police and our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who traffic and sexually exploit children.”
“This indictment reflects our resolve to bring those guilty of human trafficking to justice,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“We urge anyone who observes a child or teenager in suspicious circumstances to report it confidentially by calling the Division of Criminal Justice’s Human Trafficking Hotline 1-855-END-NJ-HT if they see someone who they suspect is being exploited in this manner and may be a victim of human trafficking.”
“As a result of the hard work and dedication of our detectives and law enforcement partners, these predators will now be held accountable for their heinous crimes,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
“We will continue to target human trafficking, but we remind the public to remain vigilant. Everyone can do their part by becoming familiar with signs associated with human trafficking.”
On Oct. 26, 2021, the juvenile victim was reported missing from Camden County. On Oct. 27, detectives from the Missing Persons & Human Trafficking Unit were contacted by members of the local Police Department to assist with locating the child.
During the investigation, detectives discovered numerous online advertisements offering the missing juvenile for commercial sex in Cherry Hill.
Through various investigative means, detectives linked Scott to the advertisements.
On Nov. 24, detectives located and arrested Scott in Camden, after she allegedly attempted to exploit the juvenile victim sexually.
Detectives safely located the missing juvenile and reunited her with her family.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, detectives linked Scott to a human trafficking network that also allegedly involved Ogawa and Lee.
Ogawa allegedly managed the human trafficking network by advertising the victim and others for commercial sex acts, soliciting customers, renting hotel rooms, setting prices, and collecting payment.
Detectives also determined that Lee allegedly arranged for customers to have sex with the juvenile victim, transported the victim, paid for hotel rooms, and collected payments for services on behalf of Ogawa.
On Dec. 3, detectives along with members of the Fugitive Unit located and arrested Ogawa and Lee at a residence in Lawnside.
Ogawa and Lee are detained in the Camden County Correctional Facility and Scott was released on level III monitoring.
Deputy Attorney General Katelyn Waegener is prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Valerie Butler and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart. Detective Jason Maloney and Detective Richard Hershey are the lead detectives for the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Unit.
The first-degree human trafficking charge carries a sentence of 20 years without parole to life in state prison and a mandatory fine of not less than $25,000.
The mandatory fine is for direct victim services, and deposited into the “Human Trafficking Survivor’s Assistance Fund.”
The charge of promoting organized street crime carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison, consecutive to the sentence for any underlying crime.
The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, and third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.