For Immediate Release - January 16, 2014

Fall River Woman Arrested, Arraigned in Connection with Trafficking Minors for Sex; “John” Charged with Rape of a Minor

Human Trafficking Scheme Involved Minors in Fall River Area

FALL RIVER– As part of a human trafficking scheme, a Fall River woman has been arrested and arraigned in connection with trafficking minors for sex and a Fall River man has been arrested and arraigned with rape of a minor and engaging in a sexual act for fee, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“We allege that this defendant preyed on vulnerable children and exploited them for her own profit,” AG Coakley said. “We are also charging another individual who we allege engaged in sexual acts for a fee with a minor victim. These charges are the result of a collaborative effort between state, federal and local law enforcement, and we thank our partners for their invaluable assistance in this case.”

Olivia Lara (aka Missy), age 38, and Feliciano Ramirez, age 30, both of Fall River, were arrested last night in Fall River without incident by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.

Lara was arraigned this morning in Fall River District Court on the charges of Trafficking in Persons Under the Age of 18 for Sexual Servitude (3 counts) and Deriving Support from a Minor Prostitute (3 counts). Ramirez was arraigned on the charges of Rape of Child and Sex for a Fee. Both Lara and Ramirez pleaded not guilty at the arraignment. Bail was set at $100,000 cash for Lara and at $25,000 cash for Ramirez. They are due back in Fall River District Court on February 12 for a probable cause hearing.

“This arrest is the result of the great partnership HSI has with our law enforcement partners in southeastern Massachusetts including the Fall River and New Bedford Police Departments and the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. “Because human trafficking is so widespread, no one entity can adequately address the problems it presents. Thankfully the Massachusetts State Police and Attorney General’s Office and law enforcement throughout the Commonwealth are committed to aggressively prosecuting these cases, and giving victims the help they need to come forward and help us end human trafficking.”

“These allegations are egregious and disturbing. The Fall River Police Department is very pleased these individuals were ferreted out and we look forward to their prosecution. It is the law enforcement community's primary responsibility to protect our most vulnerable population from exploitation and victimization,” Fall River Police Chief Daniel S. Racine said. “I commend Attorney General Coakley for her determination to make these crimes a top priority of her office.”

The arrests and subsequent arraignments are the result of a joint operation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and the Fall River Police Department, with assistance from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and the New Bedford Police Department. 

The investigation began in December 2013 when HSI received information from the New Bedford Police Department indicating that a female residing in Fall River was allegedly involved in the trafficking of underage females for sexual purposes in and around Fall River. Further investigation identified that Lara, several minor victims, and adult male customers were allegedly involved in a human trafficking scheme.

Authorities allege that Lara would meet with adult male patrons inside of a Fall River bar and arrange for them to have sex for a fee with the minor victims. Investigation revealed that Lara allegedly transported these minors for outcalls to a number of residences and garages and that some of the sexual activity took place in vehicles around the Fall River area. Authorities allege that Ramirez was one of the male customers who engaged in sexual acts, facilitated and overseen by Lara, with one of the minor victims in his vehicle in exchange for payment.

The investigation remains ongoing.

These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch, head of the AG’s Human Trafficking Unit, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Cara Krysil, Chief of the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, Investigator Jaclyn Morrill of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigations Division and Victim Witness Advocate Nikki Antonucci of the AG’s Victim Services Division. The joint investigation was conducted by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation, the Fall River Police Department, and investigators from AG Coakley’s Computer Forensics Lab, with assistance from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and the New Bedford Police Department. 

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