A West Virginia man was charged with human trafficking after allegedly taking his wife to a hotel to engage in prostitution, the Herald-Mail Media reported.
Jason Daniel Hicks, 35, of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was charged with one count of human trafficking, one count of second-degree assault and two counts of neglect of a minor, according to the Herald-Mail Media. He faces up to 30 years in prison. His wife, Heather Hicks, was charged with prostitution.
According to the report, Hagerstown, Maryland, police conducted an investigation into human trafficking and solicitation of prostitution in October 2016. Police set up “dates” with women at an unidentified motel using the website backpage.com, which some use to solicit paid sex.
On Oct. 14, 2016, an undercover officer arranged over a series of text messages to meet a woman who called herself “Mia” at the hotel to engage in sexual activity for $200.
When the woman, Heather Michelle Hicks, arrived and knocked on the door of the room where the officers were, she was arrested and taken into another room to be interviewed by police.
According to the report, Heather Hicks had told her husband that she would text him that she was safe inside the room. When he didn’t receive a text, Jason Hicks knocked on the door looking for his wife.
When a police officer stepped outside the room to speak with Jason Hicks, he attempted to punch the officer. He was tackled and taken into police custody.
The report said that the couple’s two young boys — ages 4 and 2 — were left unsupervised in their vehicle during the incident.
Reason noted that prosecutors charged Hicks with “human trafficking” because he did “take or cause another to be taken to any place for prostitution.” Reason argued, however, that “neither Hicks nor his wife Heather, 33, were involved in anything the average person would think of as sex trafficking” because the meeting was consensual.
According to the FBI, human trafficking is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world. It is a growing crime in the United States.
According to the State Department, warning signs include physical abuse, poor living conditions, and submissive behavior. The Department of Homeland Security says you can report suspected human trafficking at 1-866-347-2423.