Federal Prison the Destination for Two Burlington Women Involved in Sex Trafficking

A Burlington woman was sentenced on April 22, to thirty years in federal prison for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, attempted sex trafficking of a child, and sex trafficking three adult victims.

According to public court documents, Miesha Lasha Stanley, 32, in 2022, used force, fraud, and coercion to compel victims to engage in sex acts with customers in exchange for money. Stanley took some or all of the money that the victims earned. Stanley used the victims’ vulnerabilities, which included lack of stable housing, drug addiction, abusive relationships, and lack of familial support, to compel them to engage in paid sex acts. Stanley allowed the victims, most of whom were females in their late teens and early 20s, to live at her residence in Burlington. Stanley posted sex advertisements for the victims online, communicated with customers, and arranged for customers to engage in sex acts with the victims at her residence and other locations. Stanley also conspired with co-defendant Rosella Marie Taylor to sex traffic one of the victims.

After completing her term of imprisonment, Stanley will be required to serve five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

On April 1, 2024, Taylor, 36, was sentenced to 122 months of imprisonment for conspiring to sex traffic, attempting to sex traffic, and sex trafficking two victims. Taylor used force, fraud, and coercion, and conspired with Stanley to use force, fraud, and coercion, to compel an adult victim to engage in paid sex acts. Taylor invited the victim, who struggled with stable housing, and was unemployed, to live at Taylor’s residence in Burlington. Taylor posted sex advertisements for the victim online and drove the victim to meet customers for paid sex work. Taylor took some or all of the money the victim earned. Additionally, Taylor attempted to sex traffic a minor victim. Taylor posted sex advertisements for the victim online, arranged for a customer to engage in sex acts with the victim, and drove the victim to the customer’s residence. However, the customer did not answer the door, and the victim left with Taylor.

After completing her term of imprisonment, Stanley will be required to serve five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“On behalf of the Burlington Police Department, I would like to recognize the efforts of the personnel and agencies involved in this case,” said Burlington Police Chief Adam Schaefer. “Special recognition should be given to the investigators, who began with some small pieces of information and actively pursued all leads which ultimately led to this resolution.  And of, course, I commend the victims who came forward and cooperated with law enforcement even under the most difficult circumstances. It was not an easy thing to do and their bravery and courage must be commended. This case also serves as a reminder that human trafficking is everywhere, not just large metropolitan areas. It is important for everyone to be vigilant about their surroundings both for themselves and their community.”

United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa and the Burlington Police Department made the announcement. This case was investigated by the Burlington Police Department, assisted by the Des Moines County Attorney’s Office, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety. This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of youth under the age of 18 for commercial sex; the exploitation of adults for commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; and the exploitation of any individual for compelled labor. Human trafficking does not require the transportation of individuals across state lines, or that someone is physically restrained. Signs that a person is being trafficked can include working excessively long hours, unexplained gifts, physical injury, substance abuse issues, running away from home, isolation from others, or having a person in their life controlling them or monitoring them closely. Victims particularly susceptible to being trafficked include those with criminal histories, a history of physical or sexual abuse, uncertain legal status, and dependency on controlled substances. Individuals who purchase sex from minors or from those who are otherwise exploited for commercial sex are also subject to prosecution for sex trafficking under federal law, if they knew or were in reckless disregard of the fact that they were under the age of 18, or that force, fraud, or coercion was used.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring, be it a minor engaging in paid sex acts, or anyone being coerced into prostitution or labor, is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.