Sold for $1,200. Forcibly given heroin. Daily physical abuse and sexual assault. Such was the life of young women forced into prostitution in a Greater Hartford prostitution ring with tentacles spanning New England — a case that would be among the first instances of domestic sex-trafficking taken to trial.
Windsor Police Sgt. Chris McKee was at the heart of the investigation, which lasted three years, and began in 2004, resulting in the conviction of ten traffickers and promoters of prostitution.
With many of the case's targets having run into Windsor Police at one point or another, McKee became a lead investigator on the multi-jurisdictional task force assigned to the case.
Working alongside Detective Deborah Skates of the Hartford Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and staff from the Department of Justice, the task force managed to uncover a startling occurence of underage American females being held against their will, and forced into prostitution.
"It was very surprising. I'd even use the word shocking," McKee said of the case, which began with a routine prostitution sting in Hartford and developed into a federal investigation into now-convicted criminals, some of whom lived in Windsor.
"Initially when we were looking at everything, there was some prostitution-related stuff, some promoting prostitution, some kidnapping charges, but nobody, including the investigators were contemplating sex trafficking... It's not something we're used to dealing with."
Generally, McKee explained, trafficking is thought of as having involved international borders and non-U.S. citizens coming into the nation against their will; however, this case involved young women from New England — the girl next door.
"During a routine prostitution operation where [Hartford Police] sent undercover males to pick up female prostitutes, there was one prostitute that didn't fit in," McKee said.
According to McKee, the female was a New Hampshire girl. She was blonde, had blue eyes and was out of place on the streets of Hartford.
Picked up by officers, the young woman was questioned, but having been addicted to heroin, and high at the time, she provided officers with little information.
In custody, the young woman, referred to as Gwen in a 2011 Vanity Fair article, sobered up and requested to speak with Scates, who handed her a business card with contact information when she was first arrested, state documents say.
According to state documents, Gwen's testimony would open investigators' eyes to multiple sex-trafficking rings operating throughout Greater Hartford under the guise of an escort service.
State documents say Gwen and a friend, referred to as April in the Vanity Fair Article, were held captive in area motels, enduring beatings, rapes, and manipulation through heroine — all while being forced to prostitute.
According to McKee, Dennis "Rahmyti" Paris, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and other charges, was the owner of the sex-trafficking business, called Paris Enterprises.
Paris used hand-held credit-card machines for transactions with johns, enabling the task force to track each john and the money changing hands for sexual intercourse, McKee explained.
Paris, the only defendent to not enter a guilty plea, was found guilty on 21-counts related to trafficking, money laundering and promoting prostitution.
Brian "B" Forbes, who, state documents say, forced Gwen and a friend into prostitution and sold the women to Paris, was charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking of minors. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Shanay "Toni" Hicks, one of Forbes' prostitutes, was also charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking of minors. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
The full story of the Dennis Paris case will appear Sat., May 19 at 10 a.m. on Investigation Discovery's "FBI: Criminal Pursuit." Click here to check your local television listings.