Horrific World of Child Sex Trafficking
Is Anybody’s Daughter Ever Safe?
Based on the real-life horrors faced by thousands of girls, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young takes readers deep inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking in a fast-paced thriller that educates as much as it entertains.
Thirteen-year-old Brianna Walker is ecstatic. She’s about to sneak off to meet her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she met on Facebook. But Brianna is in for a horrifying surprise because her boyfriend doesn’t exist. Instead, Brianna unwittingly becomes the captive of a ring of drug dealers- turned-human traffickers who prey on lonely girls from dysfunctional homes. But they’ve made a big mistake in targeting Brianna because she doesn’t meet either of those criteria.
Brianna’s Uncle Dre, a man with his own criminal past, is determined to find the niece who is more like a daughter to him. Rather than sit back and rely on police to bring Brianna home, Dre scours the dark corners of Los Angeles looking for her. He is stunned to learn that the trafficking of children isn’t just happening in other countries. It’s occurring at epidemic levels right in his own backyard.
Dre is not alone in his desperate search. Loretha Johnson knows this world well. A social worker who previously lived “the life,” Loretha now dedicates her time to saving as many young girls as she can find. She turns out to be an invaluable resource for Dre, who ultimately gets a lead on The Shepherd, a mastermind in the trafficking world whose every move is fueled by ego and greed. Dre vows to bring The Shepherd’s reign of terror to an end, even if he has to break the law to do it.
While Brianna makes a futile effort to thwart her captors, Dre is getting closer and closer to finding her. The woman he loves, attorney Angela Evans, knows the dangers faced by sexually exploited children because she represents them in juvenile court. Angela lends her moral support and, eventually, an important clue to Brianna’s whereabouts.
As he races against the clock, Dre ultimately comes up with a daring plan—one that puts many lives in danger, including his own. But will he find Brianna before it’s too late?
“Sex traffickers often recruit children because not only are children more unsuspecting and vulnerable than adults, but there is also a high market demand for young victims. Traffickers target victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, and in after-school programs.” —Teen Girls’ Stories of Sex Trafficking in the U.S. – ABC News/Primetime
Day One: 10:50 p.m.
By the time Dre left Angela’s place and headed east on Slauson, it was approaching eleven o’clock. He thought about calling ahead, but decided against it.
As his Volkswagen Jetta chugged up the winding streets of Baldwin Vista, he gave some serious thought to upgrading his ride. Fancy cars were a pretense Dre didn’t care about. But maybe it was time to up his game just a little. Especially since Angela, hopefully, was back in his life.
He reached the top of the hill on Cloverdale Avenue and rolled to a stop in front of a huge three-story home that had a view of downtown L.A. on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. He turned off the engine, dialed a number and waited.
“Hey, man, I need to talk.”
“Sounds serious. When?”
“Now. I’m outside.”
As Dre had expected, Coop welcomed him into his home.
Cooper “Coop” Ford had been his unofficial mentor in the drug trade. Dre had modeled himself after this simple man who ran his operation like a business and had the smarts to get out when he’d collected enough cash to invest in legal operations. Coop now owned a chain of laundromats, several apartment buildings and two neighborhood bars, all in the hood. He treated his workers fairly and kept his businesses legit.
Greeting him at the door in a T-shirt, sweat pants and bare feet, Coop led Dre into his office, walking him down a marbled hallway lined with expensive African art. Coop had wooly salt-and-pepper hair. His penetrating eyes and the deep folds in his face conveyed a hard edge that seemed out of place in such posh surroundings.
After closing the double doors of his office, Coop perched himself on the edge of an antique desk. The impressive space had two walls of books that Coop had actually read. He was partially responsible for Dre’s keen interest in biographies. Coop lived with a wife he’d never married and their two teenage girls.
Dre sat across from him on a cream-colored leather couch.
“What’s up, youngster? You’ve got me a little concerned with this late-night visit.”
“My niece is missing.” Dre looked down at his hands. “She’s only thirteen.”
Dre quickly recounted everything they’d learned from Sydney. “I’m thinking this Jaden dude she went to meet was probably some sexual predator. Since he’s operating in Compton, he’s gotta be a brother.”
“That’s a crazy situation. I can’t keep my girls off Facebook. I’ll never understand why everybody needs to put all their business in the street.”
“I gotta get her back,” Dre said. “I’m trying to figure out where to start. I was hoping you might have a connection to some dudes who might know something.”
“Man, I don’t associate with perverts.” He stood, grabbed a bottle of Brandy from a shelf and poured himself a drink. He raised the bottle in Dre’s direction.
“You still a teetotaler?”
Coop took a long sip of his drink and returned to the same position on the edge of the desk. “Man, I’m truly feelin’ your pain. I hate to do this, but I gotta put something on your mind.”
Dre tensed. “I’m listening.”
“The drug biz we knew is no more. These fools out here have no integrity. They ain’t trafficking crack or meth. They’re trafficking girls. Young girls.”
Angela’s comment about Brianna possibly being a victim of sex trafficking came back to him with the force of a solid punch in the stomach.
“I thought that craziness only happened to women from Mexico or the Philippines.”
Coop shook his head. “Not anymore. Girls are the new crack, my brother. The Crips, the Bloods and even the Sureños, a Mexican gang, are in on it. They call themselves guerilla pimps. They’re literally snatching girls off the street, breaking ’em down and forcing ’em into prostitution. Having ’em turn ten, twenty tricks a day. The younger the better. Pimping girls is easier, cheaper and less likely to get you shot or land you in jail for any serious time. And unlike a kilo, one girl can be sold over and over and over again. There’s a ready supply and an endless demand.”
Dre locked his arms across his chest. He didn’t even notice that his leg was bouncing up and down. It had been hard enough for him to imagine Brianna in the hands of some pedophile. To think of her being turned out by a pimp was more than he could handle.
“There’s only one dude I know of with the time or the brains to run a scam on Facebook like the one you just described,” Coop continued. “You need to start with The Shepherd.”
Dre squinted up at him. “Who the hell is that?”
“His real name is Rodney Merriweather. Smart young cat, barely thirty, if that. I heard he took a lot of flack from the roughnecks in his neighborhood growing up. So he hooked up with the Stoneside gang when he was at Dorsey High for protection. He went down south to college, then came home with some education and reunited with his boys. He started calling himself The Shepherd and talking himself up. The neighborhood dudes were impressed because he had a college degree and they started believing the hype. Eventually he was running things.”
“Sounds like he just made up this persona and everybody fell in line.”
“Basically. But the dudes out there today ain’t like us, man. They’re ruthless. They have no soul.”
You had to be soulless to sell young girls. Dre was no saint, but he could never pimp women, much less children.
“Pimpin’ is high tech now,” Coop continued. “Cuz of the Internet. That’s where they make the real money. Don’t have to have girls walking the track. They arrange everything over the Internet. Set up a motel room and just run the dudes in and out. A hundred, two hundred dollars a pop.”
Dre brushed a hand down the back of his head.
Coop reached over and squeezed his shoulder. “Sorry, my brother. But I had to be real with you.”
“Where can I find this punk?”
“He owns a couple of liquor stores and runs City Stars on El Segundo.”
“The strip club? I used to hang out there back in the day. I thought some older cat owned the place.”
“He sold it several years ago. The Shepherd owns it now. The liquor stores and the club are just a front. His real operation is running ho’s. I also hear he’s also got loads of property, in South L.A. as well as the Valley. He drops in at City Stars from time to time. Easy to spot. Clean-cut-looking guy. Always flossin’. Drives a Bentley. But he runs three or four deep so you may have trouble getting to him. You should also talk to his old bottom bitch.”
Coop smiled. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe how square you are. Bottom bitch. A pimp’s ride-or-die chick. Her name’s Loretha Johnson. Used to be one of the baddest strippers to ever hit the pole. She’s out of the game now. Runs a home that takes in ex-prostitutes. You might be able to find her walking the track in Compton trying to coax young girls off the streets. She’ll probably have some helpful information about The Shepherd and I suspect she’ll be glad to give it up.”
“If he has Bree, I’m gonna get her back. Then I’m personally goin’ after The Shepherd,” Dre said, getting to his feet.
“You gotta approach this with your head on straight,” Coop warned. “Getting your girl back should be the only thing on your mind right now.”
“It is,” Dre said as he moved toward the door.
He would find Brianna and bring her home. Then somebody was gonna pay.
( Continued… )
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About the Author
Pamela Samuels Young is a practicing attorney and Essence bestselling author of the legal thrillers: Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, Buying Time, Attorney-Client Privilege, and Anybody’s Daughter. She is also a natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide.
In addition to writing legal thrillers and working as an in-house employment attorney for a major corporation in Southern California, Pamela formerly served on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers. The former journalist and Compton native is a graduate of USC, Northwestern University and UC Berkeley’s School of Law. She is married and lives in the Los Angeles area.
A popular motivational speaker, Pamela also speaks on the topics of writing, diversity, discrimination law and pursuing your passion. Pamela is married and lives in the Los Angeles area, where she attends Hope in Christ Community Church in Compton.
To schedule Pamela for a speaking engagement or book club meeting via speakerphone, Skype, FaceTime or in person, visit her website at: http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com. There is also a multitude of ways to connect with her.