Via AM950 KTNF: The progressive voice of Minnesota, Brett Johnson with you. We’re joined now by Mike Papantonio, that might be a name you’re familiar with here on AM950. He of course, was with the Ring of Fire radio show for years. So his is probably a voice you’re familiar with, but in case you’re not, Mike is also a senior partner of Levin Papantonio Rafferty, one of the country’s largest plaintiff law firms. He’s aggressively taken on big pharma, tobacco, weapon manufacturers and the automobile industry among other bastions of corporate greed and uses his own cases as springboards for his novels. He’s just released a new book titled, “Inhuman trafficking,” which is based on a course and a case about human trafficking that he’s working on as a test case in Virginia and is a fast paced thriller in the tradition of kind of like a John Grisham novel.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Brett Johnson: AM950, the progressive voice of Minnesota, Brett Johnson with you. We’re joined now by Mike Papantonio, that might be a name you’re familiar with here on AM950. He of course, was with the Ring of Fire radio show for years. So his is probably a voice you’re familiar with, but in case you’re not, Mike is also a senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the country’s largest plaintiff law firms. He’s aggressively taken on big pharma, tobacco, weapon manufacturers and the automobile industry among other bastions of corporate greed and uses his own cases as springboards for his novels. He’s just released a new book titled, “Inhuman trafficking,” which is based on a course and a case about human trafficking that he’s working on as a test case in Virginia and is a fast paced thriller in the tradition of kind of like a John Grisham novel. Mike, thanks so much for joining me on the show today. Good to have you back on the radio airwaves.
Mike Papantonio: Good to be here, Brett.
Brett Johnson: Absolutely. So I think this is a really important topic to tackle. I mean, people certainly know that human trafficking is obviously a major, major issue, but I think sometimes people don’t realize how common it is. I mean, I could even think about a case here in Minnesota that we were talking about on the show the other day where Duluth, Minnesota, which of course is a port city on Lake Superior, apparently has a major problem with human trafficking.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, yeah.
Brett Johnson: And I think it’s important to point out that how common human trafficking is when oftentimes we hear about right-wing conspiracies with human trafficking, when it really is much more common.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Well, it’s a $42 billion industry, Brett, where you’ve got, you’ve got, you know, if somebody is in the drug business, they can only sell, they can only sell cocaine one time. But if they’ve got five or six girls who are being trafficked, that’s, that’s a, that’s a different story. They make an awful lot of money doing that. And as I said, it’s $42 billion industry, but people, people look at this wrong. Our case is about the involvement of corporate America. You know, how are they, how, how does corporate America touch this? Well, they’re right in the center of it. For example, we have a case that, that is, it comes out of, out of Canada where you’ve got a company that, that actually has it’s short list of traffickers and they call the shortlist of traffickers and they say, would you do a film for us?
Would you get one of these girls 14, 15 years old, stage a rape, or actually have an actual rape in one of these hotel rooms and send us that product and we’ll put it out all over the world. They’re one of the biggest porn businesses on the planet. But they’re focus hugely is children. So trafficking, so to do that, Brett, what they have to do is they have to check into a hotel, right? Maybe it’s a Marriott. Maybe it’s a Hyatt, whatever it is, they have to stay there for a week. Maybe sometimes two weeks. They have to bring in camera equipment. They have to bring in lighting. They have to bring in a crew to shoot this film. And they do that and the people that own the hotel says, well, you know, there’s nothing wrong here. We don’t really know what’s going on.
Even though they’ve got 14 and 15 year old girls walking all over the premises. So you’ve got all kinds of variations where corporate America is involved. Matter of fact, that company that I told you about that calls the traffickers and says, hey, can you send us some product, they’re financed by Wall Street. And so it, it, you know, we think of it, well, this is just a situation where there’s a, you know, a pimp on a street corner and, you know, just involved in prostitution. This is much, much more disgusting. I mean, it’s just an awful process.
Brett Johnson: Exactly, because oftentimes we think about with human trafficking, well, it’s just one guy as you were talking about on the street or maybe a crime family or a, or a drug cartel and oftentimes these are big corporations that are oftentimes getting involved in this. And that kind of goes to the focus of the book, “Inhuman Trafficking,” which focuses on a lawyer named Deke who’s going after a firm that runs truck stops that doesn’t advertise, but definitely does have human trafficking and sex and slave labor going on. And the book has to deal with Deke trying to take down this large corporation. So I think that’s important to highlight that.
Mike Papantonio: Well, I’d like to.
Brett Johnson: If you really want to get at, go ahead, yes.
Mike Papantonio: I’d like to say that’s fiction, but it’s not. It’s based on a real case we’re handling. Everything ugly starts in LA, California it seems like when it surrounds this case. Just all, all roads lead to, lead to LA and the border there, even all along California border. And so what they do is they, they, they put girls in, in semis and they, they’ll break the 18 wheeler semi up into four or five, sometimes six rooms. And they make their way across to I10 or one of the big corridor, one of the big corridor roads through the United States, stop along a truck stops all the way. And as they’re approaching the truck stop, they’ll signal that they’re about to get there with five or six girls and they’ll bring in people that have sex with these kids that are mostly under age.
And then they’ll, they’ll drive onto the next town. Well, you know, the truck stop knows what’s going on, Brett. It’s not, I mean, you know, a truck pulls up and a bunch of guys are going in and out of the truck, they’ve got cameras all over truck stops. There’s not an inch of area that’s not, that’s not patrolled. So they know exactly what’s going on. And they actually make money doing that because it draws people to that truck stop and they buy fuel and they buy food. Sometimes they spend the night there. It costs them money to park. There’s all kinds of scams going on like that and we want to think everything is like something out of Taken, you know, it’s, it’s just, aberrational. It’s, it’s not though. The movie Taken is a, it’s a, it’s a good example of our import of, of trafficked individuals out of Ukraine or sometimes out of Mexico or Asia.
And what do there, Brett, is they send recruiters over and they tell these girls in Ukraine, hey, would you like to have a job in the United States where you’re going to learn the service industry? And they get them to the United States, they take their green card, they take their identification, they take all their money. They start them out working as a greeter at a restaurant and then within two weeks, they’re working as a greeter at a strip club and then within two weeks after that, they’re working on a pole in a strip club dancing and then after that, they’re being introduced to some trafficker and the rest is history for that person. Their, their, their survival is maybe five years maybe before they either die or commit suicide or just a whole host of ugly things.
So I mean, this is very real. I, it’s easy for us to, you know, corporate media of course is dead. They don’t tell these stories because some of their advertisers are involved. It’s just like everything else about corporate media. You see it, up in Minneapolis, just like we see it all over the country. I mean, an advertiser calls a station or a TV station or a newspaper and says, hey, you better not run that story because if you do, we’re going to, we’re going to dry up all your advertising. So that story is never told, the backstories are never told, especially involves, especially if it involves New York’s Wall Street or some big corporation.
Brett Johnson: Absolutely. And let’s talk about some of the legal challenges that comes with prosecuting these firms that are largely aware that human trafficking is going on. I know this is detailed in the book as well, but talk about some of the challenges that comes with trying to prove that these large corporations know that human trafficking is going on and they’re not doing anything about it.
Mike Papantonio: Well, it’s no different than, you know, we take, you know, we handle big cases all the way back to tobacco. Everybody told us it was an impossible for us to take on the tobacco industry, but we did and we won. The opioid case that’s going on all over the country right now. That was our case. We originated that case, filed it up in Ohio. And now the first part has already been settled for $26 billion and they told us that you can’t do that. It’s impossible. You can’t take on this industry. And they’re telling us the same thing here. This is just too big for you. It’s, it’s not, Brett. This is just another case to us. And, so the book is a direct reflection of everything that’s actually happening as it’s happening. The book is a fiction, it’s based on characters that have been in other books that I’ve written, “Law and Addiction,” Law and, you know, all the way back to “Law and Disorder.”
And so, so this is just one that picks up with more stories. The next one that’s going to come out is Law and “Law and Terrorism.” And, that’s where, you know, you’ve got international banks washing money for terrorists. That’s another case we’re handling. So I simply take the cases that we handle and I, I reduce them to a fiction book, and I think that’s why people like them. They, they read the book, they come away with ideas that they never knew. They never knew some of the stuff that’s in this book and but at the same time, they’re entertained, you know, and they can close the last, you know, close the last page and understand they’ve learned something, but they’ve been entertained.
Brett Johnson: There’s another aspect to the book, again, we’re speaking with Mike Papantonio. He, of course is a, a lawyer. Also on the Ring of Fire radio show, or formerly the Ring of Fire radio show, just published a new book titled, “Inhuman Trafficking,” that talks of course about human trafficking. And there’s another aspect of this story that I think is important to point out and this has to do with the main character Deke’s goddaughter, who is a 15 year old, who gets caught up in a, basically, what’s kind of a tangled web of sex trafficking, where she’s tricked by her boyfriend into paying off his debts by selling her body. And I think that’s important to point out as well, that it is very easy to get caught up in human trafficking, where sometimes it’s easy from 10,000 feet away to say, well, I’m too smart to get caught up in human trafficking, or that’s something that only happens to those people.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. You know what, Brett, the last hire that I made at this law firm is a female trial lawyer who was trafficked when she was 13 years old. And she got away when she was 15 years old, went to get her MBA at UCLA and got her JD at UCLA. This young woman was completely upper middle class America. And everybody believes well, that doesn’t happen to us. No, it does happen. The numbers are staggering. The percentages of, of, of girls that, that you would believe are, they’re just not at risk. The numbers are staggering and it’s becoming even more so. They end up in Dubai. They end up in all parts of Asia. They end up in South America where nobody sees them again. And, so, it’s, I mean, it’s very real. It sounds like, you know, it sounds like a made up movie, but it happens every day, every day around this country. Your next door neighbor is, is trafficked in some form or fashion somewhere in America.
Brett Johnson: With the book as well, again, we’re talking to Mike Papantonio about his new novel, “Inhuman Trafficking,” is that the villains in this novel really vary with their motivations where yeah, some of them definitely are just purely evil, absolutely horrible people. But then there are also those who are just doing it for money and they just kind of put the moral part aside.
Mike Papantonio: Hmm. Yeah. It’s an industry. Matter of fact, there’s characters in that book on that part are very real. They are extracted from a case that developed 70 miles from here where you had a Ukrainian woman who had an entire industry of bringing Ukrainian girls over to the US putting them in a strip club and then they would simply disappear. And very seldom did we ever see them again. And so we, they, they would show up out of the Ukraine and at first they’d be working at restaurants, just in places like Destin, Florida. And you’d say, well, that’s interesting that there’s so many Ukrainian H2B workers here, but they’re all trafficked in. And then, and then when you say to somebody, hey, you can make a lot of money doing this if you’ll, if you’ll give it a shot. Well, first of all, that’s a lie. They don’t make any money. They’re, they’re barely kept alive. Typically they’re, they’re moved on to a drug dependency and I mean, it happens quickly. You know, Oxycontin is the big thing to bring them in and Oxycontin is addictive within easily two weeks. So, you know, it’s got a lot of parts to it, Brett, and, and unfortunately we don’t have a, we don’t have an American media that even gets close to telling this story. And that’s why I felt like this book had to be written.
Brett Johnson: Absolutely. Well again, the title of the book is, “Inhuman Trafficking,” by Mike Papantonio, of course a, a lawyer that’s aggressively pursued a number of big corporations and also on Ring of Fire, if you remember him back on the Ring of Fire radio show. So I’m sure you’re very familiar with Mike Papantonio, and really encourage you to get his new book, “Inhuman Trafficking.” Make sure you pick that up from next chapter booksellers. I mean, you can go with one of those online retailers, but make sure you support next chapter booksellers right in St. Paul, as they can get you lined up with that book. Mike, really good to catch up with you again. I know it’s been a little while since we’ve had you on the radio airwaves, but good to hear from you again.
Mike Papantonio: Well, Brett, glad to hear you’re still at it, man, as doing a great job as usual. I appreciate the opportunity.