Durham police charge two people with human trafficking of teen

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comMay 8, 2014 

— Police have charged two people with the human trafficking of a 17-year-old girl who had run away from her home in upstate New York.

Investigators, including an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, charged Mark Brown, 26, of Ellis Road, Durham, and Fatmiyah Tunis, 24, of Corona, Queens, N.Y., with one count each of human trafficking of a child victim and promoting prostitution of a minor, said Kammie Michael, a Durham police spokeswoman.

Authorities began their investigation when a friend of the 17-year-old saw an advertisement featuring the teen on an adult website. The friend, whose name has not been made public, called the Polaris Project with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

The Polaris Project, founded in 2002, is a nonprofit organization in Washington that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Officials with the agency contacted the Raleigh Police Department, which was able to track the 17-year-old to a possible address in Durham.

Law officers arrested Brown at a home in the 1500 block of Ellis Road. Investigators found Tunis in a motel room in southern Durham, Michael reported.

Police found the 17-year-old female in good condition, Michael reported.

Prior to her arrest this week, Tunis did not have a criminal record in North Carolina, state records show.

Brown is a native of Hope Mills. His criminal history includes convictions in Cumberland County for felony breaking and entering, possession of a weapon of mass destruction, larceny, felony conspiracy and felony possession of stolen goods, state records show.

Brown and Tunis on Thursday remained in custody at the Durham County Jail. They are both being held under $750,000 bails, Michael reported.

News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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