I’ve been in the diamond business for over 10 years. I’ve traveled all over the world buying and selling diamonds. I’ve passed through most of the major airports across the United States with about a million dollars worth of diamonds in a leather wallet stuffed inside my pants. I’ve bought and sold diamonds in Dubai, Mumbai, Moscow, Hong Kong, Paris, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Madrid and Barcelona. Even today I am involved on the fringe of the diamond business, running a diamond education site helping would-be buyers.
Considering my deep personal involvement in the diamond business, my opinion might surprise you — diamonds are a terrible waste of your money.
Here are seven reasons why:
1) The most common misconception about engagement rings is that they’re some kind of ancient tradition that’s deeply embedded in human history in societies around the world. This is completely false. The idea of a diamond engagement ring is roughly a century old. Guess who invented the concept? Not surprisingly, it’s the same people who mined the diamonds — the De Beers diamond syndicate. How far did De Beers go in their quest to create demand for diamonds? Edward Jay Epstein notes in his famous investigative article:
“In its 1947 strategy plan, the advertising agency strongly emphasized a psychological approach. “We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to … strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services….” It defined as its target audience “some 70 million people 15 years and over whose opinion we hope to influence in support of our objectives.” N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. “All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions,” the agency explained in a memorandum to De Beers.”
I have nothing against clever marketing campaigns, but this is different. It’s not like with cars, for example. You know you need a car, so the car companies compete for your attention with their ads.
In this case De Beers spent millions upon millions convincing the public that they needed to buy a product that they basically created out of thin air (thin air that they alone controlled).
2) Diamonds are not an investment — they are a retail product like any other. People explain away spending thousands of dollars on a little stone because they mistakenly believe that the diamond is a solid investment. Are there any other investment classes where the person selling you the asset makes a minimum 10 percent profit margin (usually much more)? Most people would be lucky to get half of what they paid if they tried to sell a ring the day after they bought it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that buying a diamond is a safe place to put away money for a rainy day.
3) The diamond jewelry market is a shark tank. Even consumers that spend hours online learning about diamonds can easily get screwed by one of the many unscrupulous dealers out there (both online and bricks & mortar). There’s virtually no end to the various games dealers can play to help them eke out a higher return (and therefore giving you less value).
4) Spending a month’s (or two!) salary on something so impractical — at the exact same time you are beginning your new life together as a budding family — is a very poor financial decision. I’m not only a very experienced diamond dealer, I’m also a father of six, married for 13 years. The expenses only grow with time, they don’t get easier! Believe me, five years later, you’ll be wishing you had a spare five grand lying around.
5) Men, you don’t need to waste a ton of money to prove your manhood. If Mark Zuckerberg can forgo the diamond engagement ring, then you can too.
6) Women, you don’t need your man to waste a ton of money to prove that he loves you.
7) If your man buys you a diamond as a means to keep you quiet for another year about marriage, he probably should be dumped anyway. Find someone more grounded who is excited about building a life together with you — not someone who’s trying to continue being single while taking you along for the ride.
I have consciously left out of this list any arguments about immoral practices in the diamond business (i.e., blood diamonds, unfavorable working conditions, and child labor). The odds of buying an actual blood diamond in developed countries are extremely low. There are checks and balances in place that would make it extremely risky for a dealer to sneak something in illegally.
I don’t want to be perceived as hypocritical. If one takes a stance against poor working conditions, then I believe it should be done across the board. I don’t believe the diamond business is any more guilty than any other industry that does most of its production in poorer countries on the other side of the world.
Moral issues aside, there are enough reasons not to succumb to the greatest scam in history. If you hang around a group of diamond dealers for a day, there’s a word you’ll hear passed around quite a bit — “illusion.” As in “I lost my illusion in that diamond.” “He wouldn’t sell me the diamond at my asking price because he still has tons of illusion in that stone.” It’s diamond dealer jargon for a projection of high value onto something. When you “lose your illusion” in a diamond, it means you have succumbed to the reality that you will be selling it for less than you had hoped for. When you “have illusion” in a diamond, it means that you still believe you’re going to sell it for a great price because it’s such a knockout stone.
It’s rather amazing that the very people who buy and sell millions of dollars of diamonds a year acknowledge the ephemeral nature of their value at the same time that their lives are completely invested in them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please take the red pill. Don’t believe in the illusion. Pass this article on to your friends. Share it, Like it, Tweet it. Lets start a new movement together.
If you find yourself not being able to fight the social pressure to get a diamond ring, it’s OK. There are many like you. It’s not a simple thing to resist. Just please do yourself a favor and speak to an expert who can help you make sure that at the very least you spend as little as possible on the illusion and still come away with something that serves its purpose.
Ira Weissman is a diamond industry veteran with a decade of experience at one of the world’s largest diamond polishers. He has traveled the world buying and selling diamonds and now dedicates his time to helping consumers make the most of their diamond buying decisions. He has been featured on Anderson Cooper, CNBC, and has been quoted by MarketWatch, The Village Voice, and BankRate. Visit Truth About Diamonds to educate yourself about diamonds.
Human trafficking is the possession of humans or their exchange for the purpose of engaging them in slavery and prostitution through the means of force and coercion. It is a thriving industry that continues to grow every year. It is feared, that human trafficking may soon outdo the illegal drug trade. Every day there are thousands of people falling victims to advertisements coaxing them with the promise of a better future. In several countries like India, the victims may have been abducted, deceived or even bought from their family members. They are vulnerable due to the lack of education, poor financial standing and absolute immaturity. Human trafficking affects at least 7 million lives each year, worldwide. Did you know? The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that United States receives an estimated 50,000 people, annually, who are victims of human trafficking. From the view of the economy, health, psychology and the society, the effects of human trafficking are scary even in the long term, the traffickers are the only party that gains from this inhuman ordeal, raking up to $10 billion! Statistics published by the United Nations reveal that as of 2006, only 5,808 traffickers were prosecuted and 3,160 were convicted in the United States.
Most traffickers recruit their victims between the ages of 6 to 24, because a young victim will easily succumb to force and give in. They are forced into heavy physical labor in hazardous environment. Many are also taught the use of weapons and are recruited as ‘soldiers’ in armed conflicts. According to statistics by the U.S Department of State, globally 2 million children are trafficked into the sex trade each year. The children suffer from lack of self-esteem, emotional disturbance, disorientation and depression and are scarred for life. They develop deep psychological disorders that they struggle with the rest of their lives even if they have been rescued. Psychological vulnerability hinders them from having a healthy state of mind in the future. The children are likely to become withdrawn and tend be suicidal. Any children born to the victims of prostitution are taken away at the time of birth causing further mental agony to the mothers. In fact, the longer the victims have been enslaved, greater will be their traumatic experience.
‘Human Trafficking, Human Misery’, a book written by Alexis Aronowitz, states that an estimated 80% victims of human trafficking are sexually exploited, abused or forced into prostitution as most victims are young women and children. Such a victim probably might have to cater to anywhere between 8 to 15 clients in a day. The use of sexual protection is negligible in this industry, leaving the exploited at a high risk of contracting various sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS that they further pass on to the men and their partners. In some cases, victims of human trafficking are also subjected to substance abuse by being forced to take drugs. Such individuals also have to constantly battle with drug addiction. Improper supply of meals and the lack of nutritious food causes malnourishment in these entrapped victims. Poor living conditions also contribute to the development of various diseases that these victims suffer in later years. The victims are not given any medical aid to cure these ailments. Those recruited in chemical factories are treated like modern-day slaves and often succumb to occupational diseases and are quickly replaced by another lot of victims.
Human trafficking victims may be used as bonded labor in their own country or transported to another country whereupon arrival, their passports and migration documents are taken away from them, leaving them helpless and immobile. Sadly, they are often charged as collaborators of the crimes rather than being seen as victims. They are kept in very poor conditions with sub-standard clothing and food, unhygienic living conditions and no provision for healthcare. They are also often physically and sexually abused by their employers and ‘clients’ for non-compliance with demands. This is a very gruesome picture of the face of our society, hiding behind a wall. Another point to be noted here is that, the victims are deprived of education and all human rights. The victims always struggle to gain acceptance in society from the stigma after being rescued. Human trafficking often intermingles with other crimes such as smuggling of drugs and ammunition. Corruption is so widespread in our world that the greed for wealth only helps social evils like human trafficking from flourishing with no stops. In such a scenario, the development of a stable and robust society seems like a distant dream.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), human trafficking generates $31.6 billion estimated illicit profit worldwide! As calculated by the CIA, a trafficker earns up to $250,000 per victim of the sex trade in a year. Of this sum, the victim is paid a trivial amount or nothing at all on the pretext of clearing up debts and paying for expenses such as food, clothing and lodging. While, the victims of slavery are also paid very meager wages for strenuous physical labor which prevents them from fleeing. Availability of such cheap labor hinders employment opportunities and subsequently, reduces per capita income of the nation. The financial repercussions of human trafficking cannot be overlooked. In fact, the network of traffickers has gained immense financial strength which allows such illegal activities to thrive without the fear of law. Illegal immigration is also a threat to the national security and a cause of concern for governments worldwide. It gives rise to other ills such as terrorism, poverty, poor standard of living, unemployment, expanding population, wastage of resources, high crime rates and lack of enforcement of law and order in the country. These factors slow down economic growth of the nation.
Often the victims of human trafficking are subjugated by the burden of debts and pressured into forced labor. Debt bondage is a criminal offense in the United States and yet everyday people are being enslaved. The wealth gains from human trafficking are redirected to legal activities by investing in businesses or funding public affairs in order to launder that money. Along with forced cheap labor, this creates unnecessary competition for genuine businesses. But, above all, the loss of valuable human resources is the most regrettable. It is an undue waste of productivity and development. In fact, it is a disgrace to humanity. This article highlights the effects of this social evil but there are still facts about human trafficking that are unknown to many.
Joy vanished into Britain’s child-sex trade – why aren’t we looking for her?
A terrifying report, by Mark Townsend, on the immigrant girls vanishing into Britain’s sex trade
On the morning of 15 March Joy Vincent left Croydon’s Gilroy Court Hotel, and then she disappeared. No one knows what happened next: whom she met, where she was taken, whether she even went left or right. She had no family, no apparent friends, no one whom the 17-year-old could trust.
Little is known about Joy. All we have is a handful of biographical snippets from her brief interviews with police and social services. Conducted in broken English – her first language is Edo – they explain that she was born on 13 July 1993 into the poverty of rural Nigeria. It was a far-from-innocent childhood. “Her parents attempted to sell her to an 85-year-old man whom she did not know,” one transcript read.
Despite the austere language of the documents – a summation of police case notes leaked to the Observer – they portray a resourceful, determined but acutely vulnerable figure. They chronicle Joy’s escape to another Nigerian town where she survived by selling newspapers on the street. There, she met the man who would change her life. From the documents it is evident the character, referred to only as Steve, is a human trafficker.
He promised Joy a new life in Europe. “She agreed and got on a plane with him,” reads a police entry. Aged 14, she entered the UK, but the UK Borders Agency has no documentation of her arrival. For the first three years of Joy’s life in England there is absolutely no record of her existence.
According to the interviews, her fresh start soon soured. Upon arriving in the UK, Steve confiscated her passport, an established trafficking tactic to augment control over victims.
What happened next is covered in the briefest of detail, but Joy managed to “lose” Steve during the following years, finding work as a church cleaner before sliding into Britain’s vast but secretive underground sex industry to “feed herself and survive”.
Joy claimed to have merely responded to an advert for work at a Croydon massage parlour at the start of 2011, but the sordid surroundings where she was found, aged 17, in the days before the interviews were conducted – with its Fort Knox obsession with security, its reinforced doors and barred windows – suggest she was a captive sex slave.
In the month Joy went missing there were 491 unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Croydon and it is these, say police, who are most vulnerable to traffickers. No one knows how many vanish without trace into the sex trade, but local campaigners estimate that up to two trafficking victims can be found for each of the borough’s 40 or so brothels. In London, a further 2,103 illegal massage parlours and sex shops have been identified by police intelligence. Few of these victims ever escape. Had it not been for a phonecall on Saturday 6 March this year it is almost certain Joy would never have been noticed.
Clearly anxious, the female caller described a teenage girl detained “against her will at an address in Croydon”.
The officers who arrived saw that the three-bedroom house was no regular property. Steel bars shielded its windows, an iron gate guarded a reinforced front door. Inside, a generous network of CCTV cameras monitored its corridors. The solid-steel entrance “looked like a police cell door”. Whoever owned the place was either paranoid of intruders or keen to keep people from escaping.
In one of the back rooms they found two people: a 5ft, slightly built teenager from Africa with a “punter” – a local man seeking paid-for sex. It was evident, say police, that the teenager’s welfare was at risk. They were relieved. They had liberated a child from the sex trade.
Soon she would be safe, or at least that was the idea. Joy was placed in the care of Croydon Children’s Services and a bed found in the Gilroy Court hotel. This is a “hotel” which, behind its cream-coloured exterior, has numerous crowded rooms where the state sends its asylum seekers, refugees and those who most require the safety net of the state.
An investigation by local campaigners recently identified 12 brothels within a 10-minute walk of the Gilroy Court, and others are almost certainly still to be identified. The concentration is, according to local charity Croydon Community Against Trafficking, partly explained by the proximity of Lunar House, headquarters of the UK Borders Agency. More than 9,000 asylum seekers visit the building each year, many placed in establishments like the Gilroy Court while their applications are assessed.
An unquantifiable number are lured into the sex trade. Of six Croydon brothels contacted one night last month, the women on duty represent a league of nations: three Brazilian, two Spanish, two Puerto Rican, two Chinese, one Thai, one Turkish, an Italian, a Pole and a Colombian. Establishments typically operate under three different names with as many telephone numbers, but the address remains the same, and so, too, do the women.
“Their busiest times are the mornings when men travel to work and the early evenings when they return home; there’s a large but secret commuter trade,” says Michael Darby, a volunteer with Croydon’s anti-trafficking community group. But Joy, according to the information she gave police, was available 24/7, averaging two customers a day for sex. At night she received “protection” from a man she knew as Matey. Clients paid £60, of which Joy was allowed to keep £20 with the brothel taking £30 and a maid – her pimp – another tenner.
If she told the truth to the investigators, Joy appears to have been treated relatively well compared to others trapped in Britain’s frequently violent sex trade. Scotland Yard estimates that trafficked victims, on average, are forced to sleep with seven clients a day. In addition, Joy was allowed to use condoms, keep a portion of her earnings and never admitted to being beaten or tortured.
Joy’s ordeal was meant to have ended following her rescue. But the supposed sanctuary offered by the Gilroy Court Hotel, advertised online as a three-star establishment, would prove false.
When the Observer visited the hotel last month the small reception area was chaotic: pockets of men milled about the entrance, a continual procession of people trooped in and out. A security guard explained that his job was to protect residents not just from strangers outside but from those within. “Criminals come in here, people straight from prison, not good,” he said. Gesturing towards an internal corridor, he added: “We have about 300 in there at the moment.”
Officers from Croydon’s missing persons unit admit they would not want a child they knew being sent to the Gilroy Court. “They have got so many people coming and going, a lot of overnighters,” explained one. “It’s not a place I’d want anyone being put in.”
There’s no evidence connecting the hotel with traffickers, but child protection experts say it is naive to assume that Joy would not have been targeted while at the Gilroy Court.
Word would have spread quickly that a teenager linked to the sex trade was on her own. From a criminal perspective, Joy was a valuable commodity: she was worth £21,450 a year to whoever controlled her at the Croydon brothel where she was found. “There is no way she should have been anywhere near that place,” says Andy Elvin, chief executive of the charity Children and Families Across Borders, shaking his head as the circumstances of Joy’s predicament are discussed.
Parliament heard last year that some state accommodation was so unsafe they effectively doubled as “holding pens” for traffickers preying upon the most vulnerable residents: children. A Croydon council spokesman cautioned against naming the Gilroy Court, warning “predatory people” were more likely to “hang out nearby” if it was known vulnerable people were inside.
Two days after Joy was rescued from her suburban brothel, police called the Gilroy Court Hotel saying they wanted to interview her. Officers were keen to shed light on her alleged traffickers, but they were too late. She had already gone.
That might have been that but for an early break in the resultant police investigation: a local pimp revealed text contact with Joy. On 11 March the teenager was tracked down to a brothel in affluent Surbiton, Surrey. She was found cowering under a bed.
This time officers arrested Joy on suspicion of immigration offences. Her fingerprints were taken, along with a police photograph, the only known picture of Joy. Wide-eyed and clearly apprehensive, she stares back at the camera, petrified. Maybe she sensed what was about to happen.
At this stage police also appeared increasingly concerned for her safety. When officers from the local child exploitation unit contacted Croydon Children’s Services with the news they’d again plucked a child from the sex trade, attempts were made to ensure she was safe. This time, according to the documents, they handed over Joy on one crucial condition. Officers issued a “request that she was not placed back at the Gilroy Court Hotel”.
The demand went unheeded. During her second stay at the hotel there’s evidence Joy was distressed. Two days after her arrival the teenager called Croydon police asking for a favour.
“She made direct contact with the missing person unit at Croydon and requested she be collected and brought to the police station,” according to the documents.
Something was clearly amiss. Had she been tracked down by her pimps? Officers responded by asking social services to visit her, but according to the paperwork no official was available. Instead, police went to the Gilroy Court and explained to Joy that a Home Office meeting was arranged for three days later. “She appeared to fully understand… [she] requested we collect her and take her to the interview which was agreed,” a statement reads.
Later that day, a social worker describes Joy as happy with her situation. “She felt safe in the hotel and in the surrounding area of Croydon.” The following day, 15 March, Joy left the hotel for a meeting with a social worker, walked down to the London Road, and, as the documents noted, “has not been seen since”.
A mile east of the Gilroy Court lies the Ashburton playing fields where dog-walkers and joggers congregate each morning. On 26 July 2008, a hot summer’s day, Lena Monteau went to play there. The 14-year-old Romanian had no money and could barely speak English. She has not been seen since. At the time, detectives warned of people in the area who “take advantage” of foreign children. “We deal with quite a high number of cases where young people in this situation are sexually exploited,” states one police briefing shortly after Lena went missing.
Monteau’s case is among those fuelling a growing consensus among child-protection specialists that not enough effort is being made to find missing foreign children. “They are reported missing, but no one really looks, no one really cares,” says Elvin.
Inside the reception of the Gilroy Court Hotel last month there were no “missing persons” posters of Joy, no indication she had ever been there. Among the staff questioned, none recognised her picture let alone knew her name. “We’ve had people who have stayed in there for weeks and they never know who they are,” said a police source, a claim denied by the hotel.
A poster of Joy was handed to staff in the hope it might spark a lead. When contacted four weeks later, the hotel manager offered: “We don’t know where she went or what happened. She went to see her social worker and never came back.”
If Joy was white and British, says Elvin, such a response would be improbable. Too many investigations, he believes, are wound down before they even get started. One issue is that police forces have no “clear-up targets” for locating missing trafficked children. Normally there are no family and friends campaigning for information. Even with a committed police team actively seeking leads, Joy’s case demonstrates the challenges of finding a child who might be held by criminals.
Both the UK Human Trafficking Centre and SCD9, Scotland Yard’s anti-trafficking unit, are aware of the Nigerian’s disappearance but, intriguingly, no mention is made of the involvement of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
On 1 July CEOP was handed responsibility for leading attempts to find missing children, promising “rapid and effective conclusions” to complex or high-profile cases, but only one specific appeal for a missing child currently appears on the agency’s website: that of Madeleine McCann. Instead, the official missing kids website says the search for Joy is being led by the National Police Improvement Agency, a body about to be axed by the government.
It is this casual approach, says Elvin, that demonstrates how foreign child-trafficking victims receive “a second-rate service” compared to British cases.
Scotland Yard’s media bureau, which frequently circulates appeals for missing people, has yet to issue a request for information regarding Joy, seven months after her disappearance. By contrast, a media-wide appeal was launched when a British woman from Croydon went missing in September. She was found the next day.
Jim Gamble is an expert in using intelligence to track down children. A former head of CEOP, he led the National Criminal Intelligence Service’s fight against child sex abuse and, before that, Northern Ireland’s anti-terrorist intelligence unit in Belfast. He agrees that attempts to locate foreign child-trafficking victims are cursory, at best. “The true extent of the government’s commitment at the minute is simply making sure a picture goes up that no one ever sees. How do we reach these children? If we’re going to send messages then, for example, we should send them in a foreign language.”
Several weeks before Joy disappeared, Croydon police received another tip-off. Intelligence indicated that a residential home had been converted into a drugs den. Inside the Upper Norwood property – a 15-minute walk from the Gilroy Court – officers stumbled upon something unexpected. Hidden among 330 cannabis plants was a small Vietnamese child.
She was called Vananh Nguyen and, at just 11 years old, could barely speak English. Croydon Children’s Services placed her into a foster home.
Police agreed it was highly probable that Vananh was trafficked into London by organised criminals. On 2 February a meeting between detectives and the child was scheduled to help glean information on the gang that had forced her to tend their cannabis crop. The day before, Vananh vanished – she has not been seen since.
It’s plausible the traffickers may have reached her first. Vietnamese trafficking gangs are notoriously adept at recapturing victims from care. Philip Ishola of the London Safeguarding Children’s Board says that from his experience 90% of Vietnamese children in care go missing. “The traffickers exploit fear effectively,” he explains. “One boy had his face pressed down on a hob to ensure he never called the police.”
Once they are gone, few resurface. Child protection experts say that placing trafficked children, like Joy or Vananh, in the same locale as their captors exacerbates the risk of being caught. But Croydon council knew that. In the month Vananh vanished, the London Safeguarding Children’s Board issued guidance to all borough councils warning of the risk of suspected trafficked children disappearing. Many go missing, it warned, within 24 hours of arriving in care.
Gamble identifies an initial “48-hour window” when a child is effectively saved or not. Joy survived slightly longer, lasting just over 70 hours in the Gilroy Court before disappearing. Many disappear in broad daylight.
The chances of finding Vananh appear even more remote than finding Joy. The 11-year-old does not warrant a mention on the missing people or police websites. No photograph of her exists, her description is not available. It took six weeks after she went missing before a report appeared in the local paper, coincidentally the day before Joy vanished.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM), introduced in 2009 to protect trafficked victims by rapidly identifying possible cases to the UK Border Agency, was supposed to change a system which a growing number of child-protection specialists believes discriminates against foreign children in favour of British youngsters. Joy was referred to the NRM, but prompt protection was neither apparent or forthcoming.
One issue, say critics, is that the NRM is staffed entirely by Home Office officials; not a single trafficking or child protection specialist has input. Instead of concentrating on a child’s welfare, victims are often arrested. Vananh initially faced drugs charges, while Joy was accused of immigration offences, a decision that may have inadvertently provoked such distrust towards the authorities it helped drive her back into the underground sex trade.
Elvin believes the system has become so weighted against foreign youngsters that an “institutional racism” is palpable, an allegation partially corroborated by official data. Freedom of Information responses show that NRM officials believe three-quarters of suspected trafficking cases involve British citizens, compared to a third of EU cases and 11.9% of those from outside Europe. Children are equally unlikely to be believed. Just 32 foreign children out of 187 referred were granted a “positive decision”, meaning they are placed within a government safe house.
Elements of Joy’s account appear to have been contested by Croydon council, particularly her age. “There were suspicions she was older than she claimed to be,” said a spokesman, “and she did not co-operate with investigations while she was staying with us.”
Some local authorities even admit to discriminating against foreign children. Solihull council has unveiled plans for teenage asylum seekers to be fast-tracked from foster care, but not British children. Council officials concede the creation of a “two-tier service” that may mean its legal duty to foreign youngsters “will not be fully met“.
Elvin cites a recent case where a 13-year-old Vietnamese girl, pregnant after being raped in a brothel, was placed in a hostel of adult men. It is unthinkable, he said, that a suspected trafficked child from the UK would end up in the Gilroy Court Hotel.
It is almost impossible to come by facts – there is no centrally held data on actual numbers of youngsters trafficked into the UK and ministers refuse to launch a review into the number of unaccompanied youngsters missing from care. A rare glimpse into the potential scale are the statistics obtained through a Freedom of Information request that show 330 children aged between nine and 17 disappeared during the 14 months up to summer 2009, more than four a week. How many are recovered is anybody’s guess.
Requests for information from councils are routinely ignored. Portsmouth, Southampton, Kent and Manchester were asked how many overseas children went missing from their care over the past year. Only the last replied, claiming three. Kent, known to have lost 173 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from its care two years ago, disregarded repeated requests despite being given a list of those missing from its area. Croydon council says that in the past year 11 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children disappeared from care, a figure that does not include Joy because she never sought asylum. “There is no push for finding these children,” says Elvin. “Tens of thousands could be here without the knowledge of the local authority.”
Late last month, the Observer returned to Croydon looking for clues to Joy’s whereabouts. Even among the brothels, no one claimed to know her. A pimp at Estrella’s, behind Richer Sounds on Ledbury Place, said: “We don’t employ blacks.” Another, around the corner, said they only employed Europeans. But then, through an archway off Penge Road, came a breakthrough.
The maid at Honey Pots Massage, a bungalow two miles north of where the youngster was last seen, confirmed Joy had worked there – but we had arrived too late.
“She’s left.” Where to? “Don’t know, but she’s gone.” Without missing a beat, she continued, “But we have two other lovely black girls here. Lisa who is Caribbean, long hair and 5ft. Slim, double D, size 8 to 10 dress and then we have Ella, a pretty girl with long hair, curvy bust, double D, size 12.”
The lead soon went cold. Nearby shopkeepers shrugged at her picture, pimps shook their heads. The capital’s Nigerian association shared no clues. The official missing-people website advised following updates on her case, but no updates materialised. “We’ll be in touch when the appeal for Joy Vincent closes to ask you to take the poster down,” read a statement.
Croydon council, which insists Joy was “dealt with by the book” and rejects claims the hotel was unsuitable, does not believe she was abducted. A spokesman said she “appears to have most likely moved on of her own volition”.
No blame should be attached to the Gilroy Court Hotel, say experts: its role was simply to receive bookings from probation, social services and other state agencies in a place where people were free to come and go. The manager of the Gilroy Court said the hotel had been running for 30 years without incident. “Nobody has ever gone missing,” she said. “Nothing has happened.”
The police, though, are increasingly frantic, their search complicated by several aliases Joy uses or has been given. “We found her twice,” argues a source, “and maybe she hasn’t been dealt with in the way that she should have been. But she wasn’t around long enough for anyone to do that. We need to track her down.”
ON Wednesday David Cameron will host a champagne reception at Downing Street to mark anti-slavery day. Among the guests will be immigration minister Damian Green who, unveiling the government’s anti-trafficking strategy six days after Joy’s 18th birthday, promised to “ensure that children remain a focus of our efforts as we look to combat these traffickers who exploit vulnerable children”. During the three months since the minister’s statement, there has not been a single UK conviction for child trafficking. The organised criminals, traffickers and brothel owners in the case of Joy, Vananh or Lena are also likely to evade prosecution.
Away from the clinking of glasses at Number 10, the search for Joy will continue. But the challenge is harder than ever. Now 18, Joy is finally legally able to decide her fate even if in reality her destiny is beyond her control. The initial police inquiry into a missing “looked-after child” has been superseded by an investigation to locate the whereabouts of a young trafficking victim.
It is impossible to know what will become of Joy Vincent. She may have been re-trafficked out of the country on a false passport. She may be in a different city. She may be dead. She has no family, no guardian angel. All she ever had was Britain’s obligation to help a vulnerable child. And that was never enough.
Open Border with Mexico
A Study in Contrast
There has been much said about the “open border” concept along the Mexico border. Some have the opinion that there should be no control and some are of the opinion that there should be closed borders and some fall in the middle. The purpose of this article is to lay out some facts and figures and you decide what the best procedure would be. Since I am on the “front lines” so to speak, I feel that I can speak authoritatively. I will do my best to present both sides of the concern and then present my analysis and opinion. The issue is not to look at this in an emotional state but rather look at it in the form of reality….what is…and not what we wish it would be. Never should a decision be made from emotion but rather, it is my belief that all decisions should be made from fact and from realism.
First, let me begin by saying that this article is not anti immigration. I have absolutely no problems with immigration. I have all sorts of problems with illegal immigration; consequently, this article will be aimed at the illegal immigration that takes place, its effects on the economy, both local and federal, its effects on health issues, and its criminal element. So, in order to proceed with the article, please accept the fact (as it is fact) that we are a nation of laws. Some of those laws directly affect immigration. It matters not whether you agree with those laws. If you disagree with our laws, I will be the first to say…great…you have an inherent right to disagree but change them if you do not like them. To break the law in order to change the law is wrong… legally, morally, and philosophically. So, deal with the fact that we have laws and the laws should be obeyed until changed.
The popular perception of illegal aliens crossing our southern border is that they are merely poor Mexicans trying to find a better life here. But increasingly, the border is being crossed by hardened, often violent criminals. During the past five months, more than 54,000 of the illegal aliens caught at the border were convicted criminals or people being sought in connection with crimes, according to federal officials. About 139,000 of the illegal aliens arrested last year fell into the same category. The main stream media has been instructed to not write articles about the issue of the criminal elements that have consistently been coming into this country disguised as poor immigrants. Yes…. instructed and the hammer is that they will not have a seat on Air Force One if they do not follow that rule. The criminal element knows that we are not actively engaged in stopping the immigrants because it is known that the liberal (progressive) establishment wants the votes and wants a voting block, therefore, it is a well known among those of us that patrol and fight on the border that the law is deliberately avoided and sanctioned by the progressive faction in this country. The first thing that I will deal with in the article is the gang influence and the criminal element that is prevalent on the border and in our cities.
Mexican Drug Cartels
Mexico’s drug gangs have been highly successful in the past two decades, gradually replacing Colombian gangs in the United States to control the profitable distribution of cocaine from coast to coast. Colombia remains the world’s largest producer, but Larry Holifield, the DEA’s past director for Mexico and Central America, says Mexican cartels are now the most powerful in the world. In 2003, Mexican traffickers supplied 77 percent of the cocaine that entered the US. Last year, 2009, it was 95 percent, a top DEA intelligence official, told a congressional panel. Now, in 2010, Mexican Drug Cartel trafficking has increased to 96% according to acting administrator Ms. Michelle Leonhart in a circular sent to all border agencies in February, 2010.
Mexican gangs have also dominated the growing methamphetamine trade, producing 53 percent of the drugs on the market in “super-labs” in Mexico as the U.S. tightens its laws. Much of the rest is made in clandestine labs mostly in amnesty safe California, also run by Mexicans, according to U.S. officials. And as has been the case for nearly 100 years, Mexico is the biggest marijuana supplier to the United States and produces nearly half the heroin consumed north of the border, behind only Colombia.
The drug trade permeates life in Mexico. In Ciudad Miguel Aleman, drug traffickers boost the local economy and rule with a combination of fear and awe, threatening or bribing anyone who dares to try to stop them. In this city of 35,000 across from Roma, Texas, hit men are easily identified by their bulletproof pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. The traffickers have lookouts at every entrance to the city and informants on bicycles looking for anyone suspicious, townspeople say. They will photograph newcomers, including reporters, and question strangers. This can be further verified by the local National Guard Units that help patrol the border and by Department of Defense officials that are in observance. Quite often, these bullet proof pickup trucks and SUV’s, come across the border and are involved in shoot outs on the US side and it goes unreported….yes, that is UNREPORTED on a consistent basis. Again, it is not reported through heavy handed intimidation by the current administration. (Let me add a side note. It was also unreported in the Bush Administration as well but I have not seen written instructions from the Bush Administration as I have seen from the present administration.)
Armed gangs dressed in military uniforms often illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border, providing cover for the trafficking of drugs and illegal aliens into the United States. U.S. government officials and sheriffs from border areas told a Senate panel of U.S. lawmakers these intruders were becoming more sophisticated and ruthless, often clashed with U.S. Border Patrol agents and committed crimes in the United States.
“We are indeed aware of criminal organizations that wear military-style uniforms, use military-style equipment and weapons and employ military-style vehicles and tactics while conducting illegal activity in border areas,” Border Patrol chief David Aguilar told a joint hearing of the Senate subcommittees on immigration and terrorism.
The Border Patrol has intercepted over 400,000 aliens trying to cross the border in the first two months of this year, compared to around 100,000 a month – 1.2 million — last year. About 120,000 or 10% of those caught had criminal records. That’s 40,000 with criminal records caught so far this year!!!!! How many have not been caught?
One other NON REPORTED ITEM that has happened from the Mexico side. Mexican President Felipe Calderon tacitly turned his head as Mexican prisons officials “released” over 52,000 known felons and drug traffickers, rapists, murderers, and a variety on the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California borders over a period of 6 months in 2008/2009. These “released” inmates were driven to remote areas outside of Piedras Negras, Ojinaga, Juarez, Monument 67, Nogales, and Tijuana, Mexico and told to not come back. They were given back packs of food, water, maps of sanctuary locations, and money. In January of 2010, three bodies, now identified as drug cartel members, were found in the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas. All three had walked off a cliff in the middle of the night trying to find their way through. All three had brand new Mountain West backpacks, three sets of clothes, 7 weapons (3 US, 2 Russian, and 2 Chinese origins), over $4,000 cash (collectively), maps of the region, and pick up points.
It is common knowledge that Criminal Gangs and Al Qaeda are also merging along the Mexican Border
A Bangladeshi Muslim man named Fakhrul Islam was among a group of 13 illegal aliens arrested near Brownsville, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. Border Patrol agents have said that one of the men detained along with Islam was a member of Mara Salvatrucha, a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with more than 300,000 members across Central and North America, including powerful enterprises in several major U.S. cities. Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with members of MS-13. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that El-Shukrijumah, who he has described as a ‘clear and present danger to America,’ is seeking ways to infiltrate the U.S. via the Mexican border, and is willing to pay top dollar in order to do so. Erik Holder, the current attorney General, disavows any knowledge of said meetings.
In the last 6 months, we have captured several immigrants that are linked to Muslim factions in Europe and South America. Everyone knows that our borders are porous and that it is easy to get into the United States and get on our welfare roles and actually get jobs often times in federally classified areas because of the lack of background security checks. In November of 2009, a security sweep of the Federal Border Patrol personnel in Laredo, Texas resulted in 23 firings of US Border Patrol agents that were NOT US Citizens and not on work visas or in the US legally. They were hired with fake birth certificates and social security numbers and the lack of background checks allowed them to work almost unrestricted. One of the “fired” agents was a three time convicted felon in the United States and released on treaty with Mexico only to have him come back and get hired.
Drug gangs could be acquiring weapons from contacts in drug rings operating on U.S. military bases near the border. Ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have made fighting drug use by soldiers a lower priority within the military. In addition, the constant flow of material back and forth between the U S and combat theaters has made it increasingly difficult to account for every piece of ordnance. With pressure to recruit more troops, standards have been lowered, which has opened the door to recruits with prior drug convictions. The Mexican gangs, then, could be involving in-house dealers in weapons-for-drugs schemes.
Laredo is increasingly becoming a sanctuary for members of Mexico’s various drug cartels. Nuevo Laredo drug gangs use Texas the same way the Taliban and al Qaeda use Pakistan: as a refuge from the fighting; a place where they- theoretically can rest, regroup and plan further operations. The gangs also use Laredo as a transshipment point for drugs going north and weapons coming south.
A new report is out that shows the costs imposed on Texas taxpayers by illegal aliens. The report was released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The current estimates show there are 1.5 million illegal aliens in Texas. The costs, when broken down, come to a total of $725 a year per taxpaying household to cover the costs of education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens throughout the state.
The more than $4.7 billion in costs incurred by Texas taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:
Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in Texas and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Texans spend more than $4 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings. About 11.9 percent of the K-12 public school students in Texas are children of illegal aliens.
Health Care. Taxpayer-funded medical outlays for health care provided to the state’s illegal alien population amount to about $520 million a year.
Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas’s state and county prisons amounts to about $150 million a year (not including local jail detention costs or related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were also calculated.
An award winning reporter has detailed an ongoing media blackout concerning a major issue of national security on the southern border.
Sara A. Carter, National Security and Pentagon reporter for the Washington Times, spoke to the Alex Jones show today regarding consistent incursions into the U.S. by armed Mexican troops aiding illegal smugglers.
Ms. Carter has won several national prestigious awards for her coverage of border issues north and south, including the 2006 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies.
“There are a lot of people who don’t realize how serious the situation is on the southern border.” Ms. Carter said. “Even to the extent when sometimes some of our own government officials choose to ignore it, even though they know it’s going on.”
“This is a very serious national security issue in many respects and it deals with an array from smuggling humans, to smuggling narcotics, and the whole mix up is that there’s many people within the Mexican government and military that have already been bought and sold out to the drug cartels.”
“It’s very difficult to distinguish between those that are really trying to do the job, and those that are sell outs to the drug cartels. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I’ve been down in many of the same border cities, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in Mexico working with intelligence officials and others, and I have many Mexican sources who had said ‘please get the truth out’.” Ms. Carter continued.
Ms. Carter pointed out that although such activity has been ongoing for years, there has essentially been a news blackout in America.
“It is a huge story. It is bigger than most of us even know, and people are afraid of covering the story. We hear reports but we don’t see in depth detail.” Carter said.
Aside from Carter herself it has been left entirely to the alternative media to expose the reality of the situation on the border. The mainstream media cautiously began reporting on the issue two years ago when Sara Carter uncovered Department of Homeland Security documents and maps showing that Mexican military has crossed into the United States 216 times in the past nine years. In the documents U.S. officials claimed the incursions are being made to help foreign drug and human smugglers into the United States. Those of us that work the border know that this is a crock of 24 carat BS. The efforts at strengthening the border and the efforts at getting the word out are, once again, being completely stifled. Any United States Military officer risks his career when voicing his thoughts and letting out information that is not “cleared” through Erik Holder and the Justice Department……………in violation of military protocol and rules. There is no freedom of speech and there is no right for the public to know in the minds of our current administration.
Many incidents have seen Mexican troops fire on U.S. border agents and our rules of engagement do not allow us to fire back. (That is as the rules of engagement for FEDERAL troops.) The State National Guard is under the command of the Governor until activated by Federal Order. President Obama is not the Commander in Chief of National Guard units exercising under state authority. Texas is the ONLY independent National Guard Unit in the United States (meaning that it does not “round out” active duty units. It stands alone) and the Texas Governor does not give up jurisdiction. The rules of engagement are completely different for the Texas National Guard. The Governor has the right to declare a State Emergency and, hence, National Guard Units can defend themselves in open combat….even when fired upon by Mexican Military Units. The state of Texas now employs armed drones, infra red detection equipment, ground patrols (utilizing ranchers with night vision support), intelligence operatives in Mexico, and armored units allowed by private land owners to patrol the more rugged areas.
This is, by far, the most despicable event that is happening on the entire Mexican border, but the El Paso area is the roughest so far. Most people think of human trafficking in terms of “coyotes” infiltrating the United States with hordes of illegal immigrants. It used to be this way….not anymore. A seldom reported fact are the abductions for ransom, prostitution, drug running, and slave trade from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and even the border areas on the United States side. The worst of the areas on our border is Juarez, across from El Paso. Known as the city of “Femicides”, from 2005 through 2009, it is estimated that over 5,000 female deaths (ages 12-22) have occurred. The latest find was on a ranch 12 kilometers outside of Juarez in Northern Chihuahua province, wherein one mass grave, 612 female bodies were discovered….tortured, burned, sexually abused, and dismembered. Average age…..16 years old.
It is common knowledge that families “sell” their off spring to human cartels for food money. Scores of children are abducted from immigrants traveling to the United States seeking work and hooking up with “coyotes” who, in turn sell them at the border. Open borders are an invitation to “take a chance” to travel to Norte America and play into the hands of the criminal element.
The latest personal observation was July, 2009 on a remote stretch of road outside of Del Rio, Texas. A refrigerated van was stopped at a remote unmarked check point. After a shoot out with the drive and its escorting vehicle, the 18 wheeler was transporting 32 young girls to Chicago, Illinois and New York City. Their ages ranged from 8 years to 16 years for use in prostitution and sweat shops. Despicable!!!! (For the record, the driver of the truck and the escort did not survive the gun fight).
Today, our great American nation is being invaded by millions of illegal immigrants who are fundamentally changing American society. Notably, a massive influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America is changing the face of the American Southwest. For some Mexicans, the motivations in this migration are pure – to secure a better life in a better place. However, not only is this illegal immigration illegal to begin with, it is also precipitating a host of problems for the United States of America. This influx is bankrupting state and local governments, hospitals, school districts, prisons, and social services across the Southwest. The influx is also fueling a wide range of criminal activities in the United States, from the simple, such as the hiring of illegal aliens by American companies, to the serious, such as drug running, human trafficking, organized criminal activity, gang activity, weapons violations, burglaries, auto thefts, etc., etc. In addition, terrorists from overseas nations are gaining entry to the United States through our porous borders.
“William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, states that this is “the end of America as we know it. At least 10 million illegal immigrants are in the U.S. now, and that’ll double in five years.” (Dallas Morning News, Rancher in border case backs Minuteman, 04/03/2005) FOXNews.com reports that “public health care in Los Angeles is on life support, where sixty percent of the county’s uninsured patients are not U.S. citizens. More than half are here illegally. About 2 million undocumented aliens in Los Angeles County alone are crowding emergency rooms because they can’t afford to see a doctor.” (L.A. Emergency Rooms Full of Illegal Immigrants, 03/17/2005). The National Research Council estimates that the net fiscal cost of immigration ranges from $11 billion to $22 billion per year, with state and local governments bearing most of the costs. California’s tab is estimated at $3 billion alone. Richard D. Lamm, former governor of Colorado, writes in the Denver Post that “illegal immigration today isn’t cheap labor, except to the employer. The average family of illegal immigrants has two to four school-age kids. It costs U.S. taxpayers more than $7,000 a child just to educate them in our public schools.” (There’s nothing cheap about immigrant labor, 04/03/05) In the end, the American taxpayer pays many times the amount the cheap hourly wage was worth to a vagabond American company.”
But one has to figure that these costs are just a drop in the bucket. The Arizona Automobile Theft Authority for example reports that there were 56,222 stolen vehicles in Arizona in 2003. These thefts in many cases are tied to a host of other problems, including smuggling, illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, burglaries, fraud, and drive-by shootings. The costs to these associated problems are immeasurable, both in dollar amounts (auto insurance, law enforcement costs, etc.) and in terms of general personal security.
In Dallas, Texas, we are witness firsthand to some of the problems associated with illegal immigration. Business owners in predominantly Hispanic areas are scared for their safety. Recently, a member of a family that owns several local restaurants was kidnapped in broad daylight, held for ransom, and then killed. The perpetrator fled back to Mexico. Mexican graffiti covers everything from houses and fences to businesses and highway signs. The City of Dallas, at great costs – up to $2,000 per sign, is currently either cleaning or replacing graffiti-marred highway signs across the area. One bridge overpass colorfully says it all: “Welcome to the Barrio, Bitches.” For Dallas Public Schools, Spanish proficiency for teachers is almost mandatory in many sections of the city. The enormous cultural and budgetary problems associated with educating children of illegal aliens denigrate the education of our American children.
Fed up by the deluge of trespassers and the lack of attention by the U.S. Government, ordinary Americans are now fighting back. A host of organizations, some listed on this page, are sprouting to deliver information about this travesty. Other organizations, such as Ranch Rescue, and the Minuteman Project, are taking a more proactive approach such as patrolling ranches and borders.
As wide-ranging as the problem of illegal immigration is, the solutions are simple.
First, we as Americans have to make it where it is not worth coming to America. We can do this by legally requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency for jobs, education and benefits. Unable to obtain jobs and services in America, many if not most immigrants would stay at home. As part of this effort, penalties would be more severe for American companies and organizations that knowingly provide jobs and services to illegal immigrants. In a way, providing jobs to illegal immigrants is treasonous.
Second, America needs a comprehensive guest worker program. This program would be funded primarily by Mexicans wishing to work in America and by American companies who can prove they need foreign workers because American workers are not available. In such a program, Mexicans (or American companies) would pay a processing fee to the federal government, instead of a smuggling fee to the Coyotes (human smugglers).
Third, America needs to physically secure its borders. We must get the Southwest region of the United States under control. Either we need a beefed-up Border Patrol, or we need the military to patrol the border in sufficient numbers, or both.
And fourth, eliminate the automatic United States Citizenry to children of undocumented and illegal immigrants,
The time to act is now. Each day, 5,000 to 10,000 new illegal immigrants enter the United States along the Mexican border. Each day, the costs associated with this influx escalate.
Lastly, do not play the race card on this one. It matters not what nationality these illegal immigrants are….it only matters that they are here in violation of our laws. There is no “natural right” or no “natural law” that justifies such illegal activity.