Brooklyn man receives 21-year sentence for forcing victims into sex trafficking

April 29, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
The New York State Supreme Court is shown, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall sentenced Joseph Harris, who also goes by the names “Luis Santana” and “Joey Moscato,” to 21 years in prison on Friday for forcing multiple victims into sex trafficking through violent and deceptive means.

Harris, a 41-year-old who lives in Brooklyn, committed these crimes between July 2017 and May 2018, using coercion, threats, and violence to force his victims into commercial sex acts for his financial gain. Authorities discovered the extent of his criminal activity when NYPD officers responded to multiple 911 calls concerning girls being held in Harris’s Brooklyn apartment.

Upon entering the apartment, officers found two adult victims, a 16-year-old minor female, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a birth certificate for a 17-year-old female, hotel receipts, handwritten instructions by Harris for posting commercial sex advertisements, and other incriminating items.

The investigation revealed that Harris used force and threats to compel his victims to work in prostitution and give him their earnings. He also punished women who withheld money from him, in one instance dragging a victim through a pool of bleach he had poured on the floor. Harris sexually abused his victims, including underage girls as young as 14, and provided them with drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, and pills. Harris utilized and social media websites to facilitate his illicit activities.

The prosecution of Harris was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI, and the NYPD’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, with significant assistance from the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Elbert and Erin Reid are handling the case for the Office’s Civil Rights Unit.


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