January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
PHOENIX – As January marked Human Trafficking Awareness month across the country, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that a State Grand Jury indicted Joel Davis-Covington on charges of conspiracy, illegally conducting an enterprise, money laundering in the second degree, transporting persons for the purpose of prostitution, and receiving earnings of a prostitute. His co-conspirators, Tiffany Washington and Jahlia Yates, were indicted on similar charges.
The indictment alleges between November 2018 and September 2019, Davis-Covington, Washington, and Yates operated and conducted an illegal prostitution enterprise. Washington and Yates are accused of engaging in prostitution in multiple states, including Arizona, New Mexico, California, Tennessee, and Alabama. Washington and Yates would then allegedly provide the proceeds to Davis-Covington. Davis-Covington was also observed frequenting an area known for prostitution and he is suspected of actively recruiting women to engage in prostitution for his benefit.
Detectives with the Phoenix Police Department's Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (H.E.A.T) conducted the investigation. Assistant Attorney General Rachel Nava is prosecuting this case.
All defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
AGO Efforts in Fighting Human Trafficking
Fighting human trafficking has been a top priority for Attorney General Brnovich. Since taking office in 2015, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has prosecuted 251 cases connected to sex trafficking, child sexual exploitation, or illegal enterprises/money laundering in the trafficking arena. Those numbers include all forms of sex trafficking and other illegal enterprises involving the sexual exploitation of others for money.
Examples of cases related to sex trafficking:
- Robert Hood Sentenced to 108 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
- Glendale Couple Indicted for Child Sex Trafficking
- Operator of AZ Sex Trafficking Ring Sentenced to Prison
- San Tan Valley Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking
- Phoenix Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
In addition to criminal prosecutions, the AGO offers free human trafficking awareness programs for youth, parents, and the general public. The trainings include information on the connection between social media and trafficking, warning signs, as well as healthy and unhealthy relationship indicators. Since January 2015, trainers have presented this program approximately 118 times to over 4,971 attendees while distributing over 8,000 education booklets. Presentation requests can be made.
The AGO also participates in the Strength Through Resilience, Endurance “N” Growth Through Hope (STRENGTH) program, a specialized court that provides additional resources and services for child victims of sex trafficking. History shows there is a high rate of re-victimization for minors in these crimes. Since STRENGTH’s inception in 2018, there has been a significant decline in the number of minor victims who have fled placement and returned to the streets (less than 5%). Additionally, at least two of the victims have assisted with the identification and prosecution of their pimps.
Recently the AGO announced the office is providing $300,000 in new community grant opportunities to organizations that provide support services and shelter to survivors of human trafficking.
Other AGO involvement includes:
- SAFE Action Project (training for tourism industry)
- Truckers Against Trafficking
- Governor’s Task Force On Human Trafficking
- City of Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force
If you are the victim of human trafficking or if you suspect someone may be the victim of human traffickers, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to: BeFree (233733). The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages.
Below is the booking photograph of Davis-Covington.
Below is the booking photograph of Tiffany Washington.
Below is the booking photograph of Jahlia Yates.