HAMPTON, Va. - News 3 Investigates is learning more about a human trafficking case with ties to Hampton Roads.
News 3 Investigates has taken an in-depth look at human trafficking in Hampton Roads and beyond.
A North Carolina man, Anthony Jermaine Foman, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor and transportation of child pornography after a sting involving the Hampton Police Division in December 2020.
Foman’s sentencing is set for January in Norfolk, where he faces anywhere from 15 years to life in prison.
“It was an eye-opener,” HPD Officer Wesley Quillin told News 3. ”I think it’s people not knowing what to look for, and then parents not knowing what their kids are doing. With our victim, she was met on a social media website. He basically befriended her.”
Documents News 3 obtained state that on December 15, 2020, officers found an ad for a woman and arranged to meet the girl at a hotel on Mercury Boulevard for sex.
When officers arrived, they found the girl, another woman, and eventually found Foman hiding behind a bathroom door.
“I saw him at the hotel during the hotel operation,” Quillin said. “[He was] very calm and laid back. He kind of disassociated himself from knowing what was going on inside the hotel room.”
Through further investigation, officers found out Foman met the girl a month prior, in November 2020, on social media. He took her out to eat, had sex with her and asked her to come with him and promised to take care of her while discussing plans with her to prostitute herself in different places.
The documents then go on to say Foman took the girl to six states up and down the east coast, including Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina and Florida, to prostitute herself.
At some point, she told Foman to take her home, however, he would not, but told her she could leave.
Ultimately, she called an aunt to pick her up in Florence, South Carolina, and returned home around December 29, 2020.
Earlier this year, Hampton Police got felony warrants for Foman's arrest on state charges, and Foman was arrested on January 30 in South Carolina. After his arrest, Foman was extradited back to Hampton.
Authorities state in the documents Foman admitted to being a pimp, and eventually, child pornography involving the girl and himself were found on his phone.
Foman's sentencing is set for January 11 in Norfolk.
Hampton Police officers human trafficking is a widespread issue happening throughout the United States.
“January 2020 to December 2020, we had about seven cases involving minors. Just from January 2021 to June 2021, we had 15 cases involving minors,” Cpl. Scott Quesenberry of Hampton Police told News 3, citing information from the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force.
News 3 asked Cpl. Quesenberry about the rise from 2020 to 2021.
“It really is hard to say because, unfortunately, human sex trafficking, the ways in which people are brought into it, can vary in a lot of different avenues,” Quesenberry said.
Investigators said it's important to understand how suspects groom victims, especially when it comes to social media.
“Social media is immense in the grooming and access to children,” Det. Daniel Smith of Hampton Police told News 3. “It may appear harmless, and it’s important to not only understand what these websites are capable of, but also understand of what the children are also capable of hiding. There are numerous applications that can help you hide that you’re on Tinder by disguising it as a calculator application, or by hiding it within various folders that might not appear readily as social media. Something as harmless as a video game, like Minecraft or Roblox, can be the breeding site for grooming and for child predators.”
This, police emphasize, is why partnerships within law enforcement and non-profits are vital and why folks are urged to speak up whenever possible.
“Some of the victims can’t speak for themselves. Some of these victims are being threatened. Their families are being threatened. These victims need a voice and sometimes they can’t have the voice themselves,” Smith said. “If you’re not watching for it, it can unfold right in front of your eyes and you won’t even realize it.”
Hampton Police emphasized collaboration with this case, and regular partnerships with other agencies, including the Newport News Police Department, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Virginia’s Eastern District, the Department of Homeland Security and the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force.
Hampton Police officers also told News 3 they have training and educational opportunities with hotels in the city on what staff should look out for, and if they see anything suspicious, to contact authorities.
Police also work with nonprofits to help victims with shelter, medical needs, food, counseling and drug rehab services.
To report human trafficking, you can call the 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733.
For more information, click here.