Sex Trafficking Scandal Hits US Naval Base in Bahrain

2018-09-05 - 7:25 م

Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: Three US Navy personnel deployed to Bahrain are facing criminal charges over an alleged sex trafficking and corruption scandal.

The sailors, including a lieutenant commander and a chief petty officer, are being investigated for housing prostitutes in an apartment in Juffair, offering them to customers and making a profit, according to an English local newspaper.

They are facing a series of charges and court-martial proceedings in the Middle East and in the US, while one of them is also charged with solicitation and rape allegedly committed in Juffair last year, according to a report published by The Navy Times.

A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet confirmed the trials. However, he refused to give further details or comment on any case, saying that this would be inappropriate.

A fourth man has also been charged with seeking to obstruct an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

Although the crime took place in Manama, the judicial authorities in Bahrain didn't prosecute the suspects and present them to trials, because they belong to the US base.

Military prosecutors accuse chief operations specialist Jayson Waitman Grant of participating in a late 2017 venture centered in the Juffair, which recruited, transported and obtained prostitutes by means of fraud or coercion, reported the US daily newspaper.

It also mentioned that "Beginning in June 2017 in Manama, (Littlejohn) allegedly paid BD 1,000 to obtain persons who would perform commercial sex acts, confiscated the passport of an unnamed person, conspired with an NCIS source to recruit and harbor sex workers, engaged in sexual acts with a person not his spouse for money, and sold booze bought at the Navy Exchange in Bahrain to a third party."

Another member (Halfacre) was also accused of three rapes allegedly committed in Juffair in 2017.

Also, he allegedly conspired with two unidentified sailors in September to impede a federal criminal investigation by revealing the contact information of an NCIS source.

Meanwhile, (McLaughlin) has been charged with attempting to impede the investigation into (Halfacre). McLaughlin is considered an important member because he served with Virginia-based Marine Helicopter Squadron One in 2014, popularly known as "Marine One". The squadron's helicopters transport the US president, vice-president and senior Pentagon officials.

The scandal has prompted NAVCENT to launch an awareness drive and training sessions to combat trafficking in persons.

A commander said that the goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of this issue, reinforce Navy core values, and promote bystander intervention by encouraging sailors to speak up when wrongdoing or destructive behaviors are occurring.

There are more than 8,500 military members and their dependants in Bahrain, and their presence directly contributed to more than $1.2 billion to Bahrain's economy in 2016.

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