Lowell Woman Indicted, Arrested in Connection with Trafficking Women for Sex; Allegedly Posted Ads on Backpage.com
WOBURN – A Lowell woman has been indicted in connection with trafficking women for sex, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. She was arrested in Lowell this morning. The defendant allegedly used Backpage.com to advertise sexual services.
Alba Andino, age 36, of Lowell, was indicted on March 26 by a Middlesex County Grand Jury on charges of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude and Deriving Support from Prostitution. She was arrested by officers from the Lowell Police Department this morning and will be arraigned tomorrow morning in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.
“We allege that this defendant targeted vulnerable women and trapped them in a life of prostitution, personally profiting from this activity,” said AG Healey. “This is another example of Backpage being used to facilitate the exploitation of young women. Our office is committed to combatting human trafficking from every angle, and will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who profit from the sexual exploitation of others.”
“The Lowell Police Department shares Attorney General Healey's commitment to combat human trafficking cases from every angle,” said Lowell Police Superintendent William M. Taylor. “Like the Attorney General, the Lowell Police Department will aggressively investigate, using all available investigatory tools and techniques available, all human trafficking crimes, and assist other agencies involved in the prosecution of these crimes.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation in November 2014 after the matter was referred by the Lowell Police Department and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities allege that Andino lured women into prostitution. She allegedly posted ads on Backpage.com offering sexual services from the women in exchange for cash. Andino allegedly set up appointments for the women, both at hotels and on “outcalls” at clients’ residences, and organized the transportation to and from these appointments.
The investigation revealed that Andino profited financially from this operation as well as managed the daily financial aspects of the organization.
This indictment is through the AG’s dedicated Human Trafficking Unit, which focuses on policy, prevention and criminal prosecutions. Through that unit, the AG’s Office has charged 20 individuals, including Andino, in connection with human trafficking to date.
The Attorney General’s Office has been aggressive in its efforts to tackle the problem of human trafficking and led efforts to pass comprehensive human trafficking legislation in 2011. The law mandated an interagency task force, which made recommendations to the Legislature in August 2013. To further the work of the task force, the AG’s Office has continued to work with experts in the field to implement the recommendations made in the report.
In February, AG Healey filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court in Boston urging a case against Backpage.com, filed by human trafficking victims in Massachusetts, to move forward.
The AG’s Office has also been actively involved in nationwide efforts by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to combat trafficking, including supporting a bill that would help prevent children from being sold for sex via the Internet by requiring websites that facilitate human trafficking to verify the identity of the individuals posting advertisements online and identify the age of those who appear in the advertisements.
These charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Snook of the AG’s Human Trafficking Unit, with assistance from Investigator Bryan Freitas of AG Healey’s Financial Investigations Division and Victim Witness Advocate Rebecca Auld of the AG’s Victim Services Division. The Lowell Police Department conducted the initial investigation.