Home NEWS Police/Fire Press Release: San Ramon Sex Ring Operators Indicted By Grand Jury

Press Release: San Ramon Sex Ring Operators Indicted By Grand Jury

James Joseph, Jr. Photo: Contra Costa District Attorney's Office

Released by the District Attorney’s Office Monday: 

(Martinez, California) – On April 18, 2016, A Contra Costa County Criminal Grand Jury indicted James Joseph Jr. and Avisa Lavassani for multiple counts of human trafficking, kidnap for rape and rape.  Their human trafficking operation involved a 14 year sex trafficking ring, spanning numerous states, and centering in San Ramon and Danville.

“I’m pleased the Grand Jury has indicted these modern-day slavers,” commented San Ramon Police Chief Joseph Gorton.  “This is another step forward toward justice for these victims.  The case also illustrates that there is no typical human trafficking victim; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, including Danville and San Ramon.”

The case began in March of 2015.  Acting on information obtained through prior victims of Joseph Jr. and Lavassani,

Avisa Lavassani. Photo: Contra Costa County District Attorney
Avisa Lavassani. Photo: Contra Costa County District Attorney

San Ramon Police Department in a joint operation with the District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, began an investigation into the current activities of the two trafficking ring heads.

Utilizing a months-long wire-tap as well as field surveillance, the team uncovered a wide-ranging human trafficking operation that stretched from California to Cleveland to Miami to New York.   The operation was netting Joseph Jr. and Lavassani tens of thousands of dollars a week utilizing multiple trafficking victims at one time.

Based the evidence of a large scale human trafficking operation, on August 20, 2015, the team arrested the suspects.

Human Trafficking Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari, who is handling the case, applauded the investigation:  “This was teamwork at its finest.  San Ramon PD and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force came together and the result is removing some dangerous and violent individuals from the streets.  I’m hopeful this case moves forward quickly to bring the defendants to justice and allow some closure for the victims.”

After listening to evidence for several days, a criminal Grand Jury indicted both Joseph Jr. and Lavassani for conspiracy to commit human trafficking, human trafficking, kidnap for rape, kidnap for extortion and rape.  Defendant Anthony Reynolds, who assisted Joseph and Lavassani in their trafficking operations, was indicted for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and human trafficking.

“Our commitment to investigate and prosecute human traffickers in Contra Costa County is unwavering and a top priority,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson.  “There is no room in our society for treating human beings like property that can be bought and sold.  The San Ramon Police Department and our F.B.I Safe Streets Task Force did an outstanding job in working this complex and highly involved case from start to finish. 

The FBI Contra Costa County Safe Streets Task Force consists of Police Officers and Investigators from the FBI, ATF, Antioch Police Department, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa County Probation Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Pittsburg Police Department, El Cerrito Police Department, Western States Information Network, the California Highway Patrol, the Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney and the San Ramon Police Department.  Along with the above law enforcement officials, the District Attorney’s Office also utilized several Victim & Witness Advocates, representatives who work exclusively with victims and witnesses of violent crime, in their investigation.

Both Joseph Jr. and Lavassani are set to be arraigned in criminal court on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at 8:30am.

If you have been a victim, or know someone who has been a victim of James Joseph Jr. or Avisa Lavassani, please contact San Ramon Police Detective Matthew Malone at (925) 973 – 2746.


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