Case # 14NF3903

Date: March, 4, 2014


*This case is the first conviction of a gang-related case in the OCDA’S HEAT Unit

SANTA ANA – A gang member was convicted today of human trafficking, pimping, pandering, and assaulting a woman with a knife for the benefit and in association of his gang. Tavaris Daniels Mims, 33, Anaheim, was convicted by a jury today of one felony count each of human trafficking, pimping, pandering, aggravated assault, criminal threats, dissuading a witness by force or threat, and street terrorism with sentencing enhancements personal use of a knife, and criminal street gang activity. He faces a maximum sentence of 34 years to life in state prison. A hearing to set his sentencing date is scheduled for March 27, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., in Department C-28, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.                                                                                               

Circumstances of the Case

Mims is a human trafficker/pimp who exploits women for financial gain.

Between Feb. 1, 2014, and June 1, 2014, Mims began a romantic relationship with 27-year-old Jane Doe, and moved into her home. Mims is a member of a criminal street gang and frequently used Jane Doe’s home for activities of his criminal street gang. Mims pandered the victim by convincing her to engage in commercial sex acts for money and turn over 100 percent of the profits to him.

Mims convinced the victim to take sexually suggestive photographs and placed ads of the victim on web sites known for prostitution. He trafficked the victim by driving her to areas known for prostitution in Orange County in order to have her engage in commercial sex. The defendant deprived Jane Doe of liberty by forcing her engage in commercial sex acts against her will. Mims kept the money that Jane Doe had received from engaging in commercial sex acts and used it with the specific intent to promote, further and assist in the criminal conduct of his gang.

Around May 30, 2014, the defendant and Jane Doe got into a verbal dispute in her home. During the confrontation, Mims pulled out a knife and placed it against her throat and threatened to kill her. The next day Mims threatened the victim again and told her that he would kill one of her family members if she spoke to law enforcement.

After receiving a tip that Jane Doe had been assaulted, the Anaheim Police Department (APD) began investigating this case and subsequently arrested the defendant on June 1, 2014.

Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by SAPD and OCHTTF, a partnership between APD, California Highway Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and community and non-profit partners.

Deputy District Attorney Brad Schoenlebenof the HEAT Unit is prosecuting this case.

Proposition 35 and HEAT

In November 2012, California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 (Prop 35) was enacted in California with 81 percent of the vote, and over 82 percent of the vote in Orange County, to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force.

A component of the OCHTTF is the OCDA’s Human Exploitation And Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, which targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. The HEAT Unit uses a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution, to bring justice for victims of human trafficking and hold perpetrators responsible using Prop 35; Education, to provide law enforcement training to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources from public-private partnerships to raise public awareness about human trafficking and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity, to inform the public and send a message to human traffickers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.  

The HEAT Unit targets perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. Commercial sex trafficking is the second most lucrative criminal enterprise behind narcotics trafficking. Often the perpetrators are gang members and/or career criminals.

Under the law, human trafficking is described as depriving or violating the personal liberty of another person with the intent to effect a violation of pimping or pandering. Pimping is described as knowingly deriving financial support in whole or in part from the proceeds of prostitution.  Pandering is the act of persuading or procuring an individual to become a prostitute, or procuring and/or arranging for a person work in a house of prostitution.

The OCDA announced in April 2013 that he will publicize the names of defendants convicted of sexually exploiting women or children by soliciting sex acts as part of the campaign to reduce the demand of human exploitation and trafficking.

A press release will be sent out once a month detailing the arrests and convictions of sex purchasers.

Penal Code Section 236.1 defines:

(1) “Coercion” includes any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process; debt bondage; or providing and facilitating the possession of any controlled substance to a person with the intent to impair the person’s judgment.

(2) “Commercial sex act” means sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person.

(3) “Deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another” includes substantial and sustained restriction of another’s liberty accomplished through force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out.

(4) “Duress” includes a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution sufficient to cause a reasonable person to acquiesce in or perform an act which he or she would otherwise not have submitted to or performed; a direct or implied threat to destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate, or possess any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim; or knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, or possessing any actual or purported passport or immigration document of the victim.

(5) “Forced labor or services” means labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, duress, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person.

(6) “Great bodily injury” means a significant or substantial physical injury.

(7) “Minor” means a person less than 18 years of age.

(8) “Serious harm” includes any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing labor, services, or commercial sexual acts in order to avoid incurring that harm.

(i) The total circumstances, including the age of the victim, the relationship between the victim and the trafficker or agents of the trafficker, and any handicap or disability of the victim, shall be factors to consider in determining the presence of “deprivation or violation of the personal liberty of another,” “duress,” and “coercion” as described in this section.