Special Agent Kurt Remus has seen some bizarre cases in his career with the FBI, but "we were all blown away by the audacity" of four men who were prepared last year to buy and house female sex slaves.
This week, Steven Currence of Montana became the fourth defendant sentenced to a long prison term in the case that exposed the men — including two from Arizona — as ready and willing to subject women to a lifetime of torture, abuse, and labor.
Remus, a squad supervisor in 2013 with the FBI's Phoenix field office, helped start the sting.
It began with the discovery of a Malaysian Internet site that offered women slaves for sale. By paying $600, would-be slave owners were given the ability to enter an auction to be held somewhere in Malaysia. The site was a scam; people who sent the money were defrauded. But the FBI, which had "gained access to the site," discovered that many people in the United States and other countries wanted to buy slaves, Remus tells New Times.
The FBI targeted some of the men who seemed serious about the idea, sending them e-mails and eventually hooking them up with an undercover agent who played the role of slaver. The agent went to lengths to avoid the appearance of entrapping the men or enticing them to do something they "were not predisposed to do," Remus says.
"We'd tell them, 'This is not fantasy, these are humans. If you have any problems with that, get out now,'" he says. That "scared off" many of the would-be buyers. In the end, the FBI was left with four men who ultimately traveled in late 2013 to mid-2014 — money in their pockets — to a home in Paradise Valley where they believed the auction would occur. There, they were each arrested.
Phoenix New Times