Apple’s ‘Find my’ app helps bust sex trafficker

Apple’s ‘Find my’ app has helped to bust an alleged sex trafficker. A New Orleans man is accused of prostituting his girlfriend in a number of U.S. states and forcing her to drug and rob men, including one who died. Randy Jonal Schenck and Dominique Berry were arrested at a Georgia hotel after a victim — from whom a safe, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, multiple smartphones, and a laptop computer had been stolen — used Apple’s “Find My” app which located one of his phones there, the Associated Press reports.

Apple's 'Find my' app helps bust sex trafficker
Apple’s ‘Find my’ app

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that Schenck (a/k/a RuRu, a/k/a “Shaq”), age 38, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was charged on February 7, 2020 by a federal grand jury in a 12-count Indictment with interstate transportation and use of an interstate facility with intent to carry on unlawful activity, wire fraud, sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, transportation of an individual to engage in prostitution, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the Indictment, Schenck met Berry in New Orleans in about early 2013 and soon developed a romantic relationship. Thereafter, Berry began working for an escort agency under Schecnk’s supervision, often engaging in prostitution activities. Schenck and Berry travelled nationally engaging in their prostitution scheme, including California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, and Georgia. Schenck and Berry posted advertisements containing photographs of Berry on multiple location-specific online classified ad service websites and social media applications that invited interested individuals to contact Berry to schedule sexual interactions, many of which were explicitly commercial. In the advertisements, Berry had multiple aliases, including “Desiree Knowles,” “Jasmine Collins,” and “Stephanie.”

As part of the scheme, Schenck caused Berry to arrange “out call” dates with customers at their residences. Once there, at Schenck’s direction, Berry spiked the beverages of customers, causing them to become incapacitated. Once unconscious, Schenck and Berry would steal the victims’ valuables. Schenck threatened, slapped, struck, beat, and choked Berry for the purpose of establishing dominion over her, controlling her behavior, and ensuring her compliance with his instructions. These aggressive acts usually occurred when Schenck believed Berry was not performing her role effectively, was not stealing enough, was not inclined to work, or tried to leave Schenck.

Between at least late 2013 and September 2017, Schenck and Berry implemented the scheme numerous times throughout the United States, including in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Schenck and Berry were arrested at a hotel in Sandy Springs, Georgia, on September 13, 2017. When law enforcement authorities found Berry at the hotel, she was bleeding from her nose, had a swollen lip and puncture consistent with her teeth biting through her lip, and black electrical tape around one of her arms.

According to the Indictment, on about February 24, 2017, Berry met S.A., a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, through a social media application. After exchanging text messages and phone calls, Berry and S.A. agreed to meet at S.A.’s apartment. Thereafter, Schenck dropped Berry off at S.A.’s apartment. While at S.A.’s apartment, Berry placed drugs designed to incapacitate S.A., including multiple anti-psychotic medications, into S.A.’s beverages without his knowledge or authorization. After S.A. lost consciousness, Schenck and Berry stole S.A.’s valuables. On February 25, 2017, Schenck and Berry used S.A.’s debit card to make multiple purchases in the New Orleans area. Additionally, on February 25, 2017, detectives with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a wellness check at S.A.’s residence and discovered his dead body. Toxicology tests found the presence of anti-psychotic medications in S.A.’s body and determined that they contributed to his death.

If convicted, Schenck faces a mandatory minimum of fifteen (15) years in prison up to maximum term of life in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, up to a lifetime of supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment per count. Schenck may also be required to register as a sex offender.

U. S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter and expressed appreciation for the support provided by the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, supervisor of the Public Corruption Unit, and Elizabeth Privitera, supervisor of the Violent Crime Unit, are in charge of the prosecution.

Source: Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

MacDailyNews Note: If you believe you are a victim of these criminal activities, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324), and reference this case.

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