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(NEWS CENTER) — Jasmine Marino says she was perfect bait for a sex trafficking. She met her future pimp when she was just 19 years-old.
“I was like set up on this broken path really. You know, lacked self esteem, not really confident but wanted to do something with my life.”
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Marino was at a nightclub, drinking with friends, when she exchanged numbers with the man who would eventually extort her for sex. She was impressed by his nice clothes, jewelry, pocket full of cash and the Mercedes Benz he drove.
Jasmine’s new boyfriend quickly began grooming her to become a high end call girl with a hefty promise of a life of love and riches, a common tactic.
Marino says he promised they couple would eventually have a home, a business, a family if she just worked at a massage parlor.
But it wasn’t massages Jasmine was giving, she was being trafficked for sex.
Marino says she had to make at least $100 during hour to half-hour sessions with men. She recalls the first time she had sex for money and says: “it was horrifying because the guy could have been my grandfather.”
Marino’s pimp trafficked her in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, where she worked at the ill reputed Danish Health Club in Kittery which the FBI would later shut down as they discovered the prostitution ring operating there.
Marino made up to $1200 a day but she says she never saw a dime of the money because her pimp took it all.
FBI Special Agent Russell Brown says, “human trafficking is a modern-day slavery”
Brown is supervisory special agent at the FBI. He oversees human trafficking and child exploitation in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine.
“Everywhere across the nation, the human trafficking trend has been increasing,” says Brown.
The FBI handles case after case with Maine ties. Brown says the internet makes sex trafficking easier than ever for criminals.
“The internet opens up the world so somebody, say in the Boston area, can identify a potential person to exploit up in Maine just because they get in the same chat room, they see somebody on Facebook, they post an advertisement ‘do you want to become a model?’”
Or an exotic dancer or work for an escort service?
The FBI says ads found on adult web sites like backpage.com are seen by the very people Special Agent Brown is working to stop in their tracks.
“It’s going to be somebody that is a predator that wants to exploit another person for financial means or some other benefit. And they know how to do it, they know how to manipulate, and they’re just looking for another individual that they can manipulate for their benefit.”
Which means parents, friends, and the public need to learn the signs of trafficking:
“I found Jesus in the back seat of a car with a few older women who told me about Him after Sunday morning church service. This is not only awesome, but it’s also redeeming because I’ve done a lot of unholy things in the backseat,” Marino reads from the pages of her book.
Jasmine Marino finally got away from her pimp after more than 9 years of bondage as a sex slave…she got married, and recently had her 5th child. Her just released book covers those years she was trafficked, how she recovered and is now feeling redeemed---through a project she started: Bags of Hope. She hands out gift bags to women on the street who are addicted, homeless, prostituting.
“I just started going to the dollar store and making these bags filled with soap, shampoo, toothpaste, socks, nail polish, sticking in a note from me telling them there’s a better way, there’s resources, if I can make it off the street, so can’t you.”
And so the mom in the minivan makes her deliveries, in her words ‘using her pain for a purpose’. Marino also works with at risk girls at the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston.
Agent Brown admits it’s heart breaking but ending the scourge of human trafficking? Not impossible.
“Typically the youngest we’ve seen is 14, 15. We have heard of others that are younger.”
“The more public awareness there is about human trafficking the more likely it is that people can report when they see that trafficking happening, a person being exploited.”
Agent Brown says he works closely with motel and hotel owners teaching them the signs of human trafficking and they in turn alert him when they see suspicious activities at their businesses.
Legislation has been introduced in Maine to create training programs for truck drivers to spot human trafficking.