A New Hampshire man was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for sex trafficking of a minor, operation of a prostitution enterprise and maintaining a drug-involved premises. The court also ordered $20,800 in restitution to the victims.
After a three-day trial in March 2019, a federal jury found Steven Tucker, 36, of Manchester, guilty of one count of sex trafficking of a minor, one count of operating an interstate prostitution enterprise and one count of maintaining a property for drug trafficking.
Evidence presented at trial established that, between October 2013 and June 2014, the defendant operated drug and prostitution businesses in the Manchester area. He sold heroin to numerous individuals, including young women and a minor. Witnesses described how the defendant used their addictions to cause them to prostitute for his profit. The defendant would often front heroin to the women and then arrange prostitution “dates” for them. The women were required to give the defendant half of the proceeds and then purchase heroin from him with the remainder.
On other occasions, the defendant withheld heroin from the women, causing them to suffer painful withdrawal symptoms and then instructed them to prostitute to earn money to purchase heroin from him. The defendant’s scheme guaranteed that he had a steady source of drug customers and money. Some of the women were required to help the defendant sell his heroin and received heroin in exchange. The defendant used violence and threats to maintain control of the women. The investigation began in 2014, when the mother of one of the women called the Manchester Police Department after the defendant beat her daughter.
“The Civil Rights Division is committed to pursuing justice on behalf of vulnerable members of our society,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This defendant preyed on young women and teenage girls living in the shadows and on the margins. He cruelly exploited their drug addictions for his own profit. This sentence sends a clear message that the United States will not tolerate human trafficking and will work tirelessly to restore the rights and dignity of its victims.”
“By exploiting and trafficking multiple victims, including a minor, this defendant committed egregious and reprehensible crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Farley of the District of New Hampshire. “The substantial sentence imposed today finally holds Mr. Tucker responsible for his actions and sends a clear message to the community that this conduct will not be tolerated. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and members of the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force to combat the human trafficking in the Granite State.”
“Today’s sentence brings to a conclusion one of the most disturbing cases of exploitative treatment of human trafficking victims that we have seen,” said William S. Walker, acting Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Boston. “Mr. Tucker’s trial of harm and pain will unfortunately live within his victims for years to come, but, hopefully, they will take solace in knowing that the sentence imposed upon Mr. Tucker today effectively prevents him from causing more physical and psychological trauma to future victims. HSI was pleased to partner in this case with the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the Manchester Police Department and the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office. Without the tireless work of these partners, Mr. Tucker’s victims would never have had even the opportunity to achieve any measure of justice while continuing the healing process.”
This prosecution is the result of the joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Manchester Police Department, the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire and the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU). The Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office provided victim assistance in the case.
The New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force is a multidisciplinary effort comprised of law enforcement as well as social, medical and legal services for victims of human trafficking. The Task Force is funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Programs (BJA).
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Aframe, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen for the District of New Hampshire and Trial Attorney Vasantha Rao for the Civil Rights Division’s HTPU, with assistance from HTPU Trial Attorney Maryam Zhuravitsky.