Man convicted in sex trafficking case following ‘John’ sting operation

EVERETT, Wash. — A 32-year-old man was found guilty of human trafficking, four counts of promoting prostitution and leading organized crime following a “John” sting that led to his arrest, according to the Everett Police Department.

Near the end of May 2019, the Criminal Intelligence Unit organized an operation targeting sex buyers along known prostitution areas in Everett with Everett police and the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force.

Police said during the operation, Bernard Gordon asked an undercover detective to work for him.

He left in a car with two girls but was stopped by police. During the investigation, one of the girls admitted Gordon was trafficking her as a prostitute.

Detectives said they learned Gordon was trafficking the two girls in the car along with another female victim. He moved from city to city and made them prostitute at night, took their money and kept their belongings to force them to rely on him.

Based on a series of interviews, search warrants and the investigation, detectives worked with the King County Prosecutor’s Office to charge Gordon.

Gordon was found guilty on all counts on April 12 and will be sentenced soon.

“Trafficking is a very real problem and this conviction likely saved countless other victims,” said Investigations Capt. Jeraud Irving. “Unfortunately, victims rarely speak out and it is hard to arrest and convict pimps. This case required resolve and dedication, along with a large multijurisdictional team, for a positive outcome.”

“Young people, especially those with risk factors such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), youth in foster care, or those in poverty, are vulnerable to human trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation,” a news release from Everett Police stated.

Authorities said victims are usually recruited into prostitution and forced to stay in the sex trade by traffickers who use fear, physical force, threats, manipulation or other deceptive tactics. Victims are forced to exchange sex acts with money or something of value, such as shelter, food or drugs. Often, language barriers, fear of their traffickers or fear of police keeps victims from asking for help.

“Sexual exploitation is big business where traffickers often use force and drugs to control their victims,” Seattle Police Victim Advocate Olivia Herring said. “Estimates place the number of US victims forced into commercial sexual exploitation between 15,000 and 50,000 but might even be up to 325,000. Every year law enforcement works hundreds of cases to battle this travesty.”

If you or someone you know is being forced into labor or sexual exploitation, call 1-888-3737-888 or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.