August 18, 2013
The pair is also accused of making pornographic films of children and giving drugs (methamphetamine) to the girls.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of the NMI on August 14, 2013, Benevante was arrested for exploitation of children. The complaint filed against Basa charges her with sexual trafficking of children. For five years Benavente exploited children trafficked by Basa, a woman he said he has known for 10 years.
According the complaint filed against Basa, she made the arrangements for Benavente to sexually exploit two female minors. The 15-year-old minors were living with Basa. On one occasion Benavente gave the girls methamphetamine and "engaged in sexual conduct with them" at Basa's residence, according to Basa'a complaint. At another time he picked up both girls and drove them to a Saipan Hotel to engage in sexual encounters which he filmed on a camera using a tripod and with a cellular phone. The complaint alleges that Benavente paid Basa to exploit the children.
According to the complaint, one minor ran away from her father's house in March 2013 to stay at the other minor's house. Both girls left that house in April 2013 to stay in other places until they moved in with Basa in May 2013. The complaints states that in May 2013 Basa directed the children to have sex with adult males.
The victims "identified several adult males with whom she engaged in sex acts at the direction of BASA", according to documents filed with the court. Hopefully, the F.B.I. and USDOL are also pursuing the other men who the girls identified.
Benavente has been a CNMI firefighter for 13 years. In the past 10 years numerous employees of the CNMI Department of Public Safety have been arrested with charges ranging from drug use to assault with a dangerous weapon. The DPS is known also for reinstating employees who have been arrested and convicted. In 2003 Richard S. Benavente, a rescue an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting officer, was arrested for violating a temporary restraining order filed by his former girlfriend. He engaged her in a high speed chase and rammed her car with his.
In 2011, a DPS firefighter, Alan Santos Aguon, who was a person of interest in the case of two missing Saipan children, Faloma Luhk and Maleina Luhk, refused to take a lie detector test before fleeing the islands to Washington state. Perhaps Basa, an appearingly heartless monster who preys on female minors should also be questioned to see if she has any involvement with Aguon or in the Luhk case. From the Saipan Tribune:
Alan Santos Aguon, a former DPS firefighter who reportedly refused to undergo a lie detector test in connection with the investigation into the Luhk sisters’ disappearance, was recently arrested in Burien, Washington state for domestic violence.
DPS investigators at the time refused to name the firefighter, who was only tagged as a “person of interest.” Aguon resigned from DPS last year. Sources said he left Saipan on Aug. 6, 2011, to reunite with his wife and children in Washington state.Saipan is known internationally for its prostitution and sexual trafficking of women and children. The Benavente-Basa case has been hightlighted on the Traffic Jam Campaign to Stop Human Trafficking and Slavery's facebook page. In June 2013 Chang Ru Meng Blackman was found guilty of one count of sexual trafficking. Numerous others have been tried and convicted, yet many cases continue in the shadows or have not been brought to trial.
The U. S Department of State's 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report recognized the CNMI as a destination for human and sexual trafficking. From the report (emphasis added):
CNMI is a destination and transit location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Federal Ombudsman’s Office reopened an investigation of a case of fraud in foreign labor contracting from 2009 and identified 10 more human trafficking cases; the victims have filed applications for T nonimmigrant status. Federal authorities charged two men with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and financially benefitting from a sex trafficking venture involving Chinese women; both defendants pleaded guilty and sentencing was pending at the close of the reporting period.
The territory of Guam is a source and transit location for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, a defendant was sentenced in federal court to life imprisonment on 20 counts, including sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion and sex trafficking of a minor for recruiting and defrauding nine Chuukese women and one girl and forcing them to engage in commercial sex acts. Since 1950, a dual judicial structure has existed in Guam, with an independent local judicial system taking responsibility for cases arising under Guam’s criminal statutes. As a result of the federal sex trafficking investigation, three Guam police officers were charged by local authorities for their involvement in the scheme, and one officer pleaded guilty to felonious restraint and official misconduct.In May 2013 the U.S. Department of Interior made the unjustified and shameful decision to close down the Office of the Federal Ombudsman, which for 14 years has played a vital role in identifying and assisting victims of sex trafficking. In fact, so successful was the office that in May 2011 the role of the federal ombudsman was expanded to Guam.
At a Saipan women's summit earlier this month, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the CNMI, Alicia Limtiaco called on members of the community to assist in stopping human trafficking.
The Saipan Tribune quoted her:
“If you’re suspicious, or you’re concerned, make that phone call to [authorities],” Limtiaco said as she went over a list of labor and sex trafficking indicators or “red flags.”In fact, in the arrest of Benavente and Basa resulted from an anonymous person contacting "Crime Stoppers" to supply them with information and a video tape of the sexual encounter showing Benavente with the minor.
U.S. Attorney Alicia Limitiaco issued this statement about the case:
COMPLAINTS FILED IN JOINT INVESTIGATION OF SEX OFFENSES INVOLVING CHILDREN Saipan, MP –
United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, together with Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Attorney General Joey P. San Nicolas, Honolulu Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Vida Bottom, and CNMI Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Deleon Guerrero announced today the filing of federal charges stemming from a joint investigation of sex offenses involving children:
- a federal criminal complaint charging ANNETTE NAKATSUKASA BASA with Sex Trafficking of Children. A conviction carries a statutory minimum of at least ten years of imprisonment and up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Defendants BASA and BENAVENTE made their initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court before the Honorable Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona. Detention hearings for both defendants will be held on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM and preliminary hearings will be held on Friday, August 30, 2013, at 9:00 AM, in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.
- a federal criminal complaint charging RICHARD SULLIVAN BENAVENTE with Sexual Exploitation of Children. A conviction carries a statutory minimum of fifteen years of imprisonment and up to a maximum sentence of thirty years of imprisonment.
“Protecting our children and community from those who engage in human trafficking and the exploitation of children is a top priority of the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Limtiaco.
“This investigation shows the commitment of federal and local law enforcement to work together to investigate and prosecute child exploitation and to rescue and assist victims.”
The investigation originated with the CNMI Department of Public Safety and was investigated jointly by DPS Criminal Bureau of Investigations and the FBI. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rami Badawy and Ross Naughton. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Read the Benavente Complaint:
Read the Basa Complaint: