Sex-slave-auction buyers nabbed in online FBI sting; grotesque details revealed
01/27/2016 5:37 pm PST
An online advertisement is offering sex slaves, kidnapped young women for sale on the "Dark Web." Anyone can buy one for $5,000. And believe it or not, the FBI is involved.
"This is a type of undercover operation that has never been done before," said FBI Agent Ryan Blay.
And it's uncovered sheer terror.
Just listen to a phone call from one of the prospective buyers: "Wherever they go in the house, they're going to have a chain and there's going to be a place in the floor that it locks into."
It all started with a tip to the feds: A Malaysian website was offering Asian women as sex slaves. The site targeted customers in the underground world of sex and bondage, also known as BDSM (bondage-domination-sado-masochism).
"The thing about the BDSM community is that it is a certain subculture that engage in a relationship where there are two different roles, a dominant and a submissive, but all the activity that goes on is consensual," said Agent Blay.
"It's not illegal," said Blay. "The participation, it's completely consensual, that's what the community says and that's part of what they do," said Blay.
And it was actually a member of the BDSM community who tipped off the FBI.
"One of the users of a BDM site saw this advertisement and then reported it to law enforcement because he believed that it was illegal and it was wrong," said Blay.
The tipster's concern was legitimate, but the Malaysian website offering up the sex slaves was not.
"So we started investigating that and found out that it was just fraud. They just wanted money sent to them and then they would not send any slaves," said Phoenix Police Detective Travis Kenney.
Kenney is an undercover detective in the Phoenix Police Department. Crime Watch Daily agreed to protect his identity because he is part of a special secret task force that puts sex traffickers behind bars. He was brought in to work with the FBI.
"Whoever was selling those slaves, their server was based out of Phoenix," said Kenney. "So that's how we ended up with the complaint."
Even though the sex slave site was a phony, it gave cops a chance to catch some real sickos.
"After we ruled out the fact that this organization in Malaysia was a hoax, was a fraud scheme, we didn't think that the investigation should end there, and the reason why was because we had identified over 100 potential targets in the U.S. who had at least expressed an interest in purchasing and controlling a person permanently against their will sexual- or domestic-type slavery," said Blay.
That's right: 100 people were ready and willing to pay for a sex slave.
Agent Blay and Detective Kenney came up an idea for an undercover sting: Create their own online ad to bust predators prowling the Internet.
"We had undercover officers posed as kidnapped females. We posted photos, but we blocked out their face," said Kenney.
"We had undercover officers posed as kidnapped females. We posted photos, but we blacked out their face," said Kenney. "We put ads on the same websites that the Malaysian ads were on, on S&M websites. We posted those with an email address and when they emailed us in interest, we gave them a phone number and had phone conversations with the guys that were interested."
"The entire time of the investigation, every conversation that our undercover had with a subject, he mentioned in that conversation the fact that these females were kidnapped and these females were non-consenting, and that everything we were doing was illegal," said Blay.
Once the trap is set, it doesn't take long for the perverts to come calling.
The FBI claims Edward Kandl and Edward Stevens, both from Arizona, came with cash in hand. They were arrested carrying thousands of dollars, ready to buy innocent young girls like cattle.
Ropes, handcuffs and chains to stop anyone from escaping were found at Stevens's home.
"This was their prize and this was something that they had been aspiring to obtain for a long time, and that they had dreamt of for a long time," said Agent Blay.
Charles Bunnell, an ex-convict from California, was also caught in the sting. He was convicted 20 years ago of assaulting and kidnapping a prostitute.
"He said that his primary use that he would use the woman for was for sex," said Blay. "He intended to have sex with the woman as many times as he could every day of the week," said Blay.
Police say Bunnell drove to the sting location in a stolen car.
"He had a bag, a suitcase, full of homemade shackles, leather restraints, all kinds of just crazy stuff," said Kenney. "Basically it looked to me like what I would call a 'kidnap kit.'"
"Zip-ties, there were chains, there was rope, there was rubber tubing, almost everything imaginable that could be used to retrain and detain a person," said Blay.
He also brought a drug that has the ominous street name "Devil's Breath."
"The way the drug works is that you can put it in someone's drink, and once they ingest it they don't completely black out and fall down, they're still alert and they're still able to respond to any sort kind of commands that given to them," said Blay. "Essentially what it does is render someone into a zombie-like state where they have no free will, and that's what Mr. Bunnell kept saying was that this drug robs another person of their own free will, so that they're susceptible to do whatever you tell them to do."
Charles Bunnell was sentenced to nine years in prison.
The darkest deviant snagged in the sting is Steven Currence, from Billings, Montana. In one report, friends say Currence changed after his wife died, and he started drinking heavily.
The FBI claims he had set up a full-blown sex dungeon.
"He had a basement, and in that basement it looked like a dungeon," said Kenney.
"He had a whole lot of BDSM types of objects," said Blay. "He had whips, paddles, chairs, straps."
"Prior to his arrival, he had asked our undercover to measure the wrists and ankle sizes of the females that he intended to purchase," said Blay. "So the undercover purported that he had measure the wrists and the ankles of the females, and sent him the measurements, and asked him why. Mr. Currence said that he intended to fashion U-bolts to their ankles and to their wrists."
A phone call was recorded between undercover agents and Currence as he's negotiating the buy.
"Wherever they go in the house, they're gonna have a chain and there's gonna be a place in the floor that it locks into," Currence says on the call. "So that they're limited on how much distance they can move -- it will fit into a piercing in their body."
"He intended to keep these girls upstairs in a bedroom, and one of the things that we saw was that in this bedroom he had actually taken these chains and affixed them to the wooden floorboards and then stretched them out so that the chains could reach no further than the adjacent bathrooms," said Blay.
And Currence even revealed his sick plan to keep his dark secret.
"The other thing I decided too is that when anybody comes over I am going to have the girls upstairs and put away," said Currence in the recording. "And then I will put gags on them and I'll use those cage-gags so they can't open their mouth but they can drink water, and that's it. I don't want someone getting pissed off at me and calling the cops."
This sting was a success, but also serves as a terrifying reality that there are people out there who live in the shadows just waiting to pounce.
"We were able to intercept a number of people who were looking to harm others, and quite possibly would've done so on their own volition if we hadn't interjected," said Blay.
Steven Currence and Edward Stevens were sentenced to seven years in prison. Edward Kandl received a five-year sentence.