Suspects Indicted in Connection with Extensive Human Trafficking Operation in Contra Costa County | NBC Bay Area
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Suspects Indicted in Connection with Extensive Human Trafficking Operation in Contra Costa County

The investigation, which included wiretapping and field surveillance, was launched by the San Ramon Police Department and was run jointly with the county district attorney's office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

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    James Joseph Jr. and Avisa Lavassani were indicted April 18 for conspiracy to commit human trafficking, human trafficking, kidnap for rape, kidnap for extortion and rape, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. (Published Tuesday, April 26, 2016)

    Three suspects were indicted last week by a Contra Costa County grand jury in connection with a 14-year sex trafficking ring centered in San Ramon and Danville, prosecutors announced Monday.

    James Joseph Jr. and Avisa Lavassani were indicted April 18 for conspiracy to commit human trafficking, human trafficking, kidnap for rape, kidnap for extortion and rape, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.

    A man suspected of assisting the duo's alleged operation, Anthony Reynolds, has also been indicted for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and human trafficking, prosecutors said.

    This comes after an investigation that began on March 2015 into a prostitution ring based primarily in San Ramon and Danville that extended as far as Miami and New York, prosecutors said.

    Joseph and Lavassani were allegedly earning tens of thousands of dollars a week and had multiple human trafficking victims at a time, prosecutors said.

    The investigation, which included wiretapping and field surveillance, was launched by the San Ramon Police Department and was run jointly with the county district attorney's office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which includes many law enforcement agencies.

    After gathering evidence, Joseph Jr. and Lavassani were arrested on August 20, prosecutors said.

    "This was teamwork at its finest," Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari said in a statement. "(These agencies) came together and the result (was) removing some dangerous and violent individuals from the streets."

    In a statement, San Ramon police Chief Joseph Gorton called the suspects "modern-day slavers."

    "The case ... illustrates that there is no typical human trafficking victim; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, including Danville and San Ramon," Gorton added.

    Anyone who was a victim of the trafficking operation - or knows someone else who was - has been asked to call San Ramon police Detective Matthew Malone at 925-973-2746.

    Joseph Jr. and Lavassani are slated to appear in a Martinez courtroom on Tuesday morning for an arraignment.

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