Human Trafficking in Nebraska and the U.S.

Think human trafficking doesn’t happen in Nebraska? Minnesota? or Iowa? Think again. Here are a few examples of people being bought and sold right here in the U.S.

Examples from Nebraska:

  1. December 2008: Leonard Russell was convicted in Iowa of harboring, transporting and coercing two Nebraska girls ages 15 and 16 to perform commercial sex acts including performances at strip clubs. They ran away from a group home in Fremont and he picked them up and told them they had to earn money by “getting dates” in exchange for the food, shelter, transportation and clothing he provided them with. The 15 year old was eventually recovered by police in Washington, D.C. Fox News
  2. April 2010: Richard Costanzo, president of an escort company called Dream Girls Inc., was arrested for running a prostitution ring in NE & Iowa. He had underage girls working for him. He advertised his girls on several different escort websites claiming “Our girls are available 24 hours a day, and can be at your doorstep within one hour to accommodate any situation.” Federal Bureau of Investigation
  3. February 2011: Mary Crane Horton (32) and Nate Horton (35) were sentenced to 17.5 and 14.5 years in prison in February for human trafficking 6 women. They coerced a 15-year-old girl to perform commercial sex acts. The 15-year-old met another prostitute who worked for them through friends at high school. They used violence & threats on girls to keep them in line. Federal Bureau of Investigation
  4. January 2013: Michelle Randall (35) of Upland, Nebraska was sentenced to up to 90 years in prison for felony conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault of a child and felony possession of child pornography. Randall was arrested after meeting with an undercover officer she believed to be a customer willing to pay $150 to $200 to have sex with her and a 14-year old girl. The ensuing investigation revealed Randall had pornographic pictures of 14- and 7-year-old children on her cell phone and had arranged numerous sexual acts with the two children in several counties. Kearney Hub Article

Examples from the United States:

  1. June 2014: A human trafficking ring in Texas was busted and 13 women were saved. All of the victims were women recruited from Central America and Mexico. “They were promised jobs as housekeepers or nannys if they came to the US. But once the women were stateside, they were forced into prostitution…” CBS News
  2. February 2015: Seven people were arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor in Rochester, New York. There are nine known victims of the defendants and seven of those are minors as young as 14 years old. and other online escort services were used to traffic the victims and they were coerced through threats of violence, violence, as well as drugs, alcohol and money. WXXI News & TWC News

Examples from around the World:

  1. April 2015: Seven individuals have been arrested for their involvement in an Asian prostitution ring that operated throughout Canada including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Allegedly, the ring was smuggling women into Canada for sex trafficking and exploitation. Omaha World Herald

Related News Articles:

  1. Bills would crack down on local human trafficking — January, 2013 KLKN-TV
  2. First step for human trafficking task force: Gauge the problem — December, 2012 Lincoln Journal Star
  3. Local authorities search for solution to human trafficking problem in Nebraska — December, 2011 NET Nebraska
  4. UNL Professors estimate 2,000 slaves are in Nebraska– October, 2009 10-11 News

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or visit for more information and resources.