County investigating 45 ongoing human sex trafficking cases

EVERETT — A protracted investigation into juvenile sex trafficking in Everett has resulted in four people being charged with felonies.

Prosecutors allege the suspects, including a married couple, promoted the sexual abuse of three girls, ages 17, 16 and 15. The girls were advertised online, met strangers for sex in an Everett motel room and were forced to turn over money they made to the adults, according to court documents.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Baldock on June 15 charged the married couple, Jaebrione and Alicha Gary with promoting the commercial sexual abuse of a minor. Two other people, Sean Phillips and Mallory Hisgrove, also were charged with conspiracy to commit the same crime.

Prosecutors on Friday said they’ll be dismissing charges against Jaebrione Gary. They only recently learned that he was fatally shot in King County on June 11. The suspect in the killing is a convicted sex trafficker.

“This case took awhile to put together,” Baldock said. “These often are long investigations if they are done right.”

There are about 45 ongoing police investigations into sex trafficking in Snohomish County, said Paula Newman-Skomski, a nurse with Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse. Since October, the county’s hotline to report sex trafficking has received 93 calls.

It is estimated that about 250 girls and women are engaged in prostitution in the county. That is a rough estimate because prostitution and sex trafficking mostly are underground with “dates” being arranged online instead of women walking the streets.

The defendants in this recent case came under scrutiny in 2012 when Everett police were called to Motel 6 on Evergreen Way after a complaint about shouting in a room. Officers saw a man and woman leaving the room. The man ran when he saw police. Officers were unable to find him that night.

Alicha Gary, who also goes by the last name Williams, had an outstanding warrant and was arrested. She told cops the man who ran was her husband, 20.

Officers uncovered more than just a shouting match. Inside the motel room, they found two girls, 17 and 15. The girls were taken to the police department where they were interviewed by detectives.

Detectives found out that Alicha Gary, 23, took pictures of the juveniles and created online ads for them. Motel records showed that she had rented the room. The girls identified a third juvenile, 16, who also had been working for the married couple.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Christopher Ferreira launched a follow-up investigation. He found ads on Backpage.com and another website featuring at least one of the girls. The ads listed the number for the phone found in the motel in Everett. Alicha Gary’s credit card was used to pay for the ads, court records said.

A search of the woman’s phone contained photographs of several females, including two of the girls, in various stages of undress. They also found text messages from men responding to the online ads.

Detectives in late 2013 located the third girl in the King County Juvenile Detention Center. She provided more details about how she met the Garys and the role Phillips and Hisgrove allegedly played in the operation.

She was on the bus when Jaebrione Gary asked for her phone number. He later told her she should “ho up” for him to make some money. She told police she agreed because she liked the man. He brought her to Everett to meet his friend and that man’s girlfriend. Hisgrove allegedly gave the girl several outfits to wear and they took pictures of her and posted them online. The day the ad posted she received a call from a man. The three adults drove her to a motel and rented a room for her. She lived in the motel for a couple of weeks with Jaebrione Gary. She continued to engage in prostitution and he demanded all the money she made. He used some of the money to buy her food and condoms, court papers said.

At one point she was told to walk “the track” because she wasn’t getting enough business from the online ads. She walked along Evergreen Way and took customers back to the motel room, Baldock wrote.

She eventually was introduced to Alicha Gary and warned to be nice to the woman. She was promised expensive clothes and shoes. A couple of days later, Alicha Gary returned from the mall with a bag full of stolen clothes, shoes and perfume for the girl, court papers said.

The couple convinced the girl and two others to return to Everett to work in the motel. She ran to a nearby restaurant when the police were called to the room for the disturbance.

Most women and adolescents who work as prostitutes have been sexually or physically abused growing up and have run away from home. Pimps often target teens without strong family ties.

Plans are under way in Snohomish County to open Peoria Home, a place where former sex workers can stay and rebuild their lives.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dianahefley.

Trafficking

To report human trafficking, call the county’s 24-hour hotline at 425-258-9037. To request more information about trafficking or to set up an educational presentation send an email to humantrafficking@providence.org.

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