East Bay human trafficking defendants hit with felony indictment

James Joseph Jr. (Photo provided by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office) (Contributed)

James Joseph Jr. (Photo provided by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office) (Contributed)

MARTINEZ -- Two Danville residents accused of luring prospective models and makeup artists into a multistate, forced-sex labor ring were indicted on numerous felony charges after a Contra Costa County grand jury reviewed the case against them, authorities announced Monday.

James Joseph and Avisa Lavassani have been charged with kidnapping for rape, kidnapping for extortion, human trafficking and conspiracy. Oakley resident Tony Reynolds, an alleged accomplice, faces charges of human trafficking and conspiracy.

According to Prosecutor Aron DeFerrari, Joseph and Lavassani would use a wide range of tactics to lure new prostituted victims, including offering potential victims "modeling contracts" or "makeup artist contracts" and using "fraud and deceit" to get them to perform sex acts for money. Police say there is also evidence the duo would use violence or threats to control victims, and San Ramon police Chief Joseph Gorton issued a statement calling them "modern-day slavers."

To read more: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_29811504/danville-human-trafficking-defendants-hit-felony-indictment