News

DA: Trio arrested in San Ramon Valley-based sex trafficking ring

Couple accused of leading nationwide operation netting five-figure profits per week

A local couple and another man have been arrested on suspicion of taking part in a large-scale sex trafficking ring centered in San Ramon and Danville over the past 14 years, authorities announced Tuesday afternoon.

James Joseph Jr. and his common-law wife, Avisa Lavassani, remain in custody awaiting arraignment on charges of human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and other counts, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. Anthony Reynolds, accused of assisting in the nationwide operation, also awaits arraignment in custody, prosecutors said.

Authorities allege the multi-agency investigation into Joseph and Lavassani "uncovered a wide-ranging human trafficking operation that stretched from California to Cleveland, to Miami and to New York" and netted the couple tens of thousands of dollars per week when utilizing multiple trafficking victims at once.

"This investigation has shown us that human trafficking does not stay within jurisdictional lines, and it doesn't just happen in big cities or at ports and truck stops," said San Ramon police chief Joe Gorton, whose department helped spearhead the investigation that began in April. "Human trafficking can occur anywhere, and it can be hidden in plain sight."

San Ramon police started investigating the couple after receiving information obtained through prior victims, according to the DA's office. A months-long wire-tap and field-surveillance effort also involved DA's office investigators and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

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"We are committed to investigate and prosecute human traffickers in Contra Costa County," DA Mark Peterson said. "There is no room in our society for treating human beings as slaves and property that can be bought and sold."

The FBI Contra Costa County Safe Streets Task Force consists of police officers and investigators from the FBI, Antioch Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa County Probation Department, California Department of Corrections, Pittsburg Police Department and the San Ramon Police Department.

The DA's Office also said several victim/witness advocates were used in the investigation, working exclusively with victims and witnesses of violent crime.

The dates of the court appearances for Joseph, Lavassani and Reynolds were not immediately available.

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DA: Trio arrested in San Ramon Valley-based sex trafficking ring

Couple accused of leading nationwide operation netting five-figure profits per week

by /

Uploaded: Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 11:21 pm
Updated: Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 12:47 pm

A local couple and another man have been arrested on suspicion of taking part in a large-scale sex trafficking ring centered in San Ramon and Danville over the past 14 years, authorities announced Tuesday afternoon.

James Joseph Jr. and his common-law wife, Avisa Lavassani, remain in custody awaiting arraignment on charges of human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and other counts, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. Anthony Reynolds, accused of assisting in the nationwide operation, also awaits arraignment in custody, prosecutors said.

Authorities allege the multi-agency investigation into Joseph and Lavassani "uncovered a wide-ranging human trafficking operation that stretched from California to Cleveland, to Miami and to New York" and netted the couple tens of thousands of dollars per week when utilizing multiple trafficking victims at once.

"This investigation has shown us that human trafficking does not stay within jurisdictional lines, and it doesn't just happen in big cities or at ports and truck stops," said San Ramon police chief Joe Gorton, whose department helped spearhead the investigation that began in April. "Human trafficking can occur anywhere, and it can be hidden in plain sight."

San Ramon police started investigating the couple after receiving information obtained through prior victims, according to the DA's office. A months-long wire-tap and field-surveillance effort also involved DA's office investigators and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

"We are committed to investigate and prosecute human traffickers in Contra Costa County," DA Mark Peterson said. "There is no room in our society for treating human beings as slaves and property that can be bought and sold."

The FBI Contra Costa County Safe Streets Task Force consists of police officers and investigators from the FBI, Antioch Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa County Probation Department, California Department of Corrections, Pittsburg Police Department and the San Ramon Police Department.

The DA's Office also said several victim/witness advocates were used in the investigation, working exclusively with victims and witnesses of violent crime.

The dates of the court appearances for Joseph, Lavassani and Reynolds were not immediately available.

Comments

Julia
Alamo
on Aug 26, 2015 at 8:43 am
Julia, Alamo
on Aug 26, 2015 at 8:43 am

WOW 14 YEARS IN BUSINESS WITHOUT BEING DISCOVERED.

INTERESTING HOW THIS CAN HAPPEN. I AM SURE THEY REPORTED THEIR THOUSANDS OF THOUSANDS OF INCOME DOLLARS TO THE IRS LIKE GOOD PAYING TAXPAYERS.

14 YEARS OF HUMAN TRAFFICING...GOOD POLICE WORK... :(

Julia Pardini from Alamo


da truth
Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 10:43 am
da truth, Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 10:43 am

Just goes to show you, some of the most vile criminals live right here among us, posed as god-fearing citizens in our little bubble...


Diane
Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm
Diane, Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Good work, San Ramon PD! I hope these criminals never see the light of day again.


Pablo
Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 1:57 pm
Pablo, Danville
on Aug 26, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Just a coincidence the arrest was made on the first day of a new school year? Home is right in the middle of 4 schools.


Longtime Resident
San Ramon
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:15 pm
Longtime Resident, San Ramon
on Aug 26, 2015 at 5:15 pm

But Pablo, it's okay with you if pimps set up shop "in the middle of 4 schools?"


Chris Andrews
San Ramon
on Aug 26, 2015 at 7:52 pm
Chris Andrews, San Ramon
on Aug 26, 2015 at 7:52 pm

It took HOW many YEARS!?


sponge_bob_roundpants
Danville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:18 am
sponge_bob_roundpants, Danville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:18 am

authorities have been hard at work on this one:
Web Link
from 11/21/2010.
Unbelievable.


Diane
Danville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:43 am
Diane, Danville
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

Unfortunately, the world of human trafficking with the lucrative nature of this particular crime, has become quite sophisticated in ways to fly under the radar and evade police.

Rather than speaking disrespectfully regarding our police, Julia, perhaps you can educate yourself for a change and stop speaking on the many subjects of which you know nothing at all. I, for one, could use a break from your terminal bad mood.


James
San Ramon
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:44 am
James, San Ramon
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:44 am

It looks like San Ramon PD started the investigation in April of this year, after receiving information from a victim. The "14 years" comment in the media is very misleading.


Ramone
San Ramon
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm
Ramone, San Ramon
on Aug 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Curious on why San Ramon is getting top billings even though the couple is from Danville? This gives San Ramon a bad name.


Jack
San Ramon
on Aug 28, 2015 at 6:36 am
Jack, San Ramon
on Aug 28, 2015 at 6:36 am

Could it be because San Ramon PD broke the case?


Julia
Alamo
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:24 am
Julia, Alamo
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:24 am

Diane you must be friends or a family member of the Danville Express Town Square Moderator.

If I said anything like you just said about me...my posted comment would have been removed.

Thank you, Julia Pardini

Oh Diane, I assume you think 14 years of criminal activities without being detected is just fine...Strange thinking...


Danville
Danville
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:32 am
Danville, Danville
on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:32 am

California does not legally recognize "common law marriages", and in fact very few states do. Journalist routinely incorrectly use this term. Yet, at the same time they will use the phrase "alleged suspect" when video shows the police catching a criminal in the act. Trying to be political correct, journalism is becoming less accurate.


LocalYokel
San Ramon
on Aug 28, 2015 at 11:21 am
LocalYokel, San Ramon
on Aug 28, 2015 at 11:21 am

One of the guys arrested looked like he came out of Hollywood casting as "the pimp".
As for 14 years under the radar, no surprise since there were no victims coming to the police. This guy is a monster as are his associates, not human beings. What can the police do without witnesses? Possibly attack them via their online activity. They have to use credit cards to post ads, right? They have ads where the girls are right? Cops could do under cover or just show up and separate the masters from the slaves to see who would talk. Point is, with all the online advertisements, the COPS aren't clueless where these people are.


Neighbor
Danville
on Aug 30, 2015 at 6:34 am
Neighbor, Danville
on Aug 30, 2015 at 6:34 am

Interesting article in the paper yesterday detailing the extensive rap sheet of the pimp. I was struck by the fact the house is owned by a CEO of a publicly traded company, he bought it in June and then rented it to the pimp. In a town where demand for rentals far exceed supply one would think you check a criminal record of a tenant before handing him the keys to a brand new $1.6 million dollar home. The plot thickens...


ASG
San Ramon
on Aug 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm
ASG, San Ramon
on Aug 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm

I saw the guy the first day of school at Coyote Creek Elementary in San Ramon, not Danville. You could tell he was pimp from a mile away, he was dressed like a typical pimp. I just found out a few days agofrom the internet photo it was the same guy, he has twin kids, one is in my son's 2nd grade class. FML


Derek
Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Derek, Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Neighbor-
I agree with your post. I believe what happens far too often is that landlords focus almost entirely on prospective tennant's credit history (whether they do it themselves or hire some lame agency) to the exclusion of all other criteria. So to the Einstein who owns Pimp Manor, and other slow witted property owners, you need to do at least two other things: Check their background for criminal activity as Neighbor suggested, and contact a prior landlord (NOT the propective tennant's current one) for a reference. If you are too lazy to do that, you get what you sow. Unfortunately, your neighbors may have to suffer from your lack of diligence too.
This guy started in other states, apparently with an associate or three, and his moving around no doubt caused the investigation to drag out. But I'm kind of with Julia here too - 14 years does seem excessive.


JRM
Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:43 pm
JRM, Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:43 pm

So... Obviously the CEO had a con call with the Board today....but what I want to know us what did he tell his wife?


JRM
Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm
JRM, Danville
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

Correction...what I wanted to say was what did he tell his wife? Perhaps no questions were asked..


David
Danville
on Sep 1, 2015 at 2:27 pm
David, Danville
on Sep 1, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I've seen prostitutes walking the streets of Danville for years.

Open your eyes people.

Well, they dress like prostitutes anyways.)


stacy
Danville
on Oct 1, 2016 at 9:57 pm
stacy, Danville
on Oct 1, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Its happening daily in the massage parlors in Danville.
My husband was solicited!
Sad thing is its well known!


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