Sep 30, 2019

Federal Jury Convicts Sex Trafficker Of Using Crack Cocaine And Heroin To Coerce Victims Into Prostitution

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Federal Jury Convicts Sex Trafficker Of Using Crack Cocaine And Heroin To Coerce Victims Into Prostitution

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal jury has convicted Valentino Shine, Sr., 51, of Buffalo, NY, of five counts of sex trafficking, and one count each of sex trafficking conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, using and maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum penalty of life, and a $20,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth R. Moellering and Meghan A. Tokash, who prosecuted the case, with support from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, stated that the defendant ran a sex trafficking operation out of his Humboldt Parkway residence in Buffalo. Shine preyed upon and exploited women who were vulnerable and addicted to drugs, coercing them to engage in commercial sex acts. The defendant provided or withheld drugs to coerce the victims to engage in commercial sex acts. 

According to evidence presented by the government at trial, Shine was recovering from a cocaine addiction and knew the power that drug addiction could have over someone. The defendant used this as a weapon to target vulnerable women. Shine’s motto was “BABI PAE” – Break a (expletive) Incorporated; Pimping Ain’t Easy.

At the urging of the defendant, victims advertised on After performing sex acts for money, they would give that money to Shine. Money was important to Shine. When signing his name, the defendant wrote CREAM: “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”

In addition to using drugs to control his victims, Shine also used physical beatings, manipulation, and brainwashing.

Three women who worked for the defendant died of drug overdoses as a result of their addictions. 

“Let this verdict serve as a warning to predators like Valentino Shine who think that they can exploit women and girls for profit and sexual servitude,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “My Office simply will not permit human traffickers—the modern day equivalent of slave owners—to exist in our community. I find it particularly fitting that defendant’s reign of terror, which involved at least nine female victims, was officially ended by two outstanding AUSAs in our Office—both of whom happen to be female—Meghan Tokash and Elizabeth Moellering. Sometimes the results achieved at trial seem particularly just—this was one of those trials.”

“The guilty verdict in this case makes it clear that Mr. Shine preyed on the vulnerable as do most traffickers,” said Kevin Kelly, HSI Buffalo, Special Agent-in-Charge. “So many of our investigations begin with identifying victims, which is why a key component of our work involves HSI's victim-centered approach to these cases. It’s critical that we work closely with survivors, helping them obtain necessary support services so they are able to move on with their lives and potentially participate in the prosecution of their trafficker, which was key in the case against Mr. Shine.”

The verdict is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly, and the Human Trafficking Task Force of the Western District of New York.

Sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., who presided over the trial of the case.

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