Human trafficking suspects face new charges

kterhune@idahostatesman.comNovember 22, 2013 

— A grand jury indicted a Boise couple accused of human trafficking on new charges Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials say Derrick Wallace Hicklen, 44, and Gypsie Lee Akers, 28, forced multiple Treasure Valley women into prostitution, using a combination of threats and drugs that left the women unable to resist.

Akers and Hicklen have been charged with two felony counts each of human trafficking, procurement of prostitution, receiving pay for procuring a prostitute, compelling a person to engage in prostitution and accepting earnings from a prostitute. Hicklen was also charged with rape and video voyeurism.

Police and the sheriff’s office suspect more than a dozen women were victimized in the operation, which spans back to at least September 2012. So far, only two have come forward, Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Andrea Dearden said.

The additional charges were added after the second victim went to police. Ada County Sheriff’s Detective Ryan Pacheco hopes more will come forward.

“This is ‘textbook’ human trafficking,” he said in a press release. “(Hicklen and Akers) very methodically found out what the vulnerabilities were for these women and manipulated them into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.”

He stressed that the women would not be charged with a crime for coming forward.

“We never set out to charge any of these women — we’ve said all along we consider them victims,” Pacheco said. “We’ve found several. We know there are more out there, and we want to help.”

Dearden said Victim Services is providing assistance and support for the women who have come forward. Hicklen raped at least one of the victims and videotaped the assault, police say. That accusation was changed from earlier this month, when Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Cathy Guzman said Hicklen sexually assaulted more than a dozen victims. The women were taken to local motels and forced to remain there, performing sex acts for money, which Akers and Hicklen pocketed, police say. At a Nov. 6 arraignment, Guzman said if the women attempted to leave, they were threatened by Hicklen, who identified himself as a member of the Bloods gang and a “regulator.” Hicklen has an extensive criminal background He could face up to life in prison if convicted of the current charges, and is currently held on a $1 million bond. Akers’ bond was set at $500,000. Both could potentially face more charges. The couple is set to enter pleas Dec. 5.

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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