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Report: Federal agents investigating human trafficking paid for and engaged in sex acts

Federal undercover agents with Homeland Security investigating human trafficking in Arizona repeatedly paid for and engaged in sexual acts with suspected victims, reports Cronkite News and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism.

The report also maintains that some supervisors knew about this activity. When Homeland Security Investigations refused to let its agents testify in a case that took three years to build, all felony charges against the ringleaders were dropped.

“That’s our tax money,” said defense attorney Josephine Hallam. “Shouldn’t they be at the border, or doing something with terrorists rather than getting sex acts?” he said to Cronkite News.

According to Reason, agents dubbed their investigation Operation Asian Touch.

An HSI memo obtained by Reason describes an undercover federal agent telling a masseusse “to masturbate him” or to strip naked or go topless while jerking them off.

In December 2019, according to Reason, prosecutors dropped all charges against Amanda Yamauchi and Dean Michael Bassett, who they suspected in being the ringleaders of the “transnational criminal organization.” Reason maintains they were willing to let the suspects go rather than answer questions about its agents engaging in sex acts during their investigation.

“In my experience in law enforcement, these types of things do not just happen in one spot,” said defense attorney Brad Rideout who represented two women charged in the case.

Homeland Security says it always keeps the victims as the focus of its investigations.

“HSI is committed to placing the safety of potential victims at the forefront of every investigation,” said Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, a spokeswoman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, HSI’s parent agency. “Conduct by a limited number of HSI agents involved in the investigation was not consistent with HSI policy,” she said to Cronkite News and the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism.

This story is part of a five part investigation into these alleged acts. You can read the entire investigation here.

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