Category Archives: Law Enforcement

DHS Blue Campaign: ICE Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for enforcing a wide range of crimes related to border security, including conducting domestic and international investigations on human trafficking, child sex tourism, and forced child labor. Continue reading

29 charged with sex trafficking juveniles

Imagine being stripped of everything you know, transported between states and forced to have sex with strangers. No, this isn’t a nightmare; these are details from a recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation. Four girls – some younger than 14 years old – were forced into a life of prostitution by a Somali-run Human Trafficking Organization. Continue reading

Another Sex Trafficking Ring Comes Tumbling Down

by Maia Blume

Success! A small but rapidly growing mom-and-pop shop prostitution ring operating out of the Boston area and New York has been busted. Five people (three in Massachusetts and two in New York) were just arrested on multiple charges relating to forced prostitution and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The group has been operational for over five years, running brothels out of roughly 11 apartments in the greater Boston area. They would post ads on Craigslist and in newspapers in Massachusetts, New York, and California seeking Asian women to move to Boston to work as escorts (in a few instances, the women were in the country illegally). These traffickers were so aggressive in wanting to expand their business and grow their brothels, that they spent over $13,000 in one seven month period placing ads in just one local newspaper in Boston … who knows how much they spent in total! Once here, the women were picked up from a local bus station, distributed amongst the group’s apartments and forced to have sex for money. If they were not complicit, the ring leaders, Hong Wei, known as Ms. Chen, and Jing Liang Chen, known as Mike, would threaten to harm their families. Continue reading

Human Trafficker Gives Rare Video Interview

by Amanda Kloer

If you’ve had an interest in the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery for any period of time, you probably have wondered, “How can one human being actually enslave another? What’s going through his or her head?” Now, here’s your chance to know. A South African NGO has filmed a former human trafficker who lured girls and women from Thailand to South Africa with the promise of high-paying jobs and then forced them into prostitution. Check out his story in his own words, with more after the jump. Warning: contains graphic descriptions of violence.

This man might not be your stereotypical trafficker, in part because he seems to have had a change of heart about what he was doing, but his descriptions of the trafficking process are incredibly complex. It starts with false promises, includes enforcement of corrupt police and the graphic physical and psychological abuse that goes on. It’s a very brutal reality described in the starkest of terms.

One of the most interesting parts of the interview was that they were able to anticipate law enforcement raids and simply move the girls to another place. Finding human trafficking victims is incredibly difficult for this exact reason. I have to wonder if this ability to detect and then evade inspection by the police is a common phenomenon among traffickers, or if it was this man in particular who was just highly skilled.

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Congress Aims to Improve Laws for Runaway, Prostituted Kids

by Amanda Kloer

The prospects for healthcare reform may be chillier than DC weather, but Democrats in the House and Senate are turning their attention to another warmer but still significant national issue: the increasing number of runaway and throwaway youth who are being forced into prostitution. In response to the growing concerns that desperate, runaway teens will be forced into prostitution in a sluggish economy, Congress is pushing several bills to improve how runaway kids are tracked by the police, fund crucial social services, and prevent teens from being caught in sex trafficking. Here’s the gist of what the new legislation is trying to accomplish:Shelter: Lack of shelter is one of the biggest vulnerabilities of runaway and homeless youth. Pimps will often use an offer of shelter as an entree to a relationship with a child or a straight up trade for sex. In the past couple years, at least 10 states have made legislative efforts to increase the number of shelters, extend shelter options, and change state reporting requirements so that youth shelters have enough time to win trust and provide services before they need to report the runaways to the police. Much of the new federal legislation would make similar increases in the availability and flexibility of shelter options.

Police Reporting: Right now, police are supposed to enter all missing persons into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database within two hours of receiving the case. In reality, that reporting doesn’t always get done, making it almost impossible for law enforcement to search for missing kids across districts. This hole is a big problem in finding child prostitution victims and their pimps, since pimps will often transport girls from state to state. The new bill would strengthen reporting requirements, as well as facilitate communication between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Runaway SwitchboardFunding Pilot Programs: Another bill, introduced in December, would fund pilot programs aimed at providing teens in prostitution drug treatment, counseling, and job skills training. Even when child trafficking victims are separated from their pimps, some return to prostitution. In many cases, this return is a direct result of the power and control the pimp exercises over his victims. But sometimes, it’s because the teen lacks the resources and skills to support herself in another way. Programs like these can help children leave prostitution for good. Continue reading

Texas D.A. Prosecutes Girl, 13, For Prostitution While Her Pimp, 32, Walks

by Amanda Kloer

Patricia R. Lykos, District Attorney

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the king-sized failures of the justice system are no exception. A Harris County District had a major justice FAIL recently when he prosecuted a 13-year-old girl for prostitution, despite the fact that she’s legally a human trafficking victim and not old enough to consent to sex. And her 32-year-old “boyfriend” (aka pimp) who was having sex with her and likely facilitated her prostitution? Well, he walked off free and clear.

The Texas Supreme Court is hearing the case this week, and it’s unclear whether they’ll decide that a trafficked child too young to consent to sex can be prosecuted for prostitution.

The girl, who media are calling B.W. to protect her identity, was picked up in 2007 when she offered to give an undercover Houston police office a sex for $20. Quickly, the police discovered that she was a minor, and that she had run away from a foster home placement two years earlier, when she was just 11. After running away, she moved in with a 32-year-old man whom she called her “boyfriend.” While staying with him, she used a number of illegal drugs, acquired several sexually transmitted diseases, and had two abortions.

While B.W. never admitted to being engaged in prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13, the high number of STDs and abortions are strong indicators that her “boyfriend” may have been pimping her out, even at that young age. But she did plead guilty to the prostitution charges related to her arrest.

So why is there a legal battle currently raging in Texas over whether or not to charge a young girl, clearly victimized by an older man, with prostitution? B.W.’s lawyers are arguing that it’s just plain ridiculous for a 13-year-old to be prosecuted for prostitution when lawmakers have otherwise determined that a child of that age is legally incapable of consenting to any sex act, much less one that involves an implied contract (minors that age are also too young to legally agree to contracts). They say a prostitution conviction would create an inconsistent legal precedent which states that a child is at the same time both legally capable and legally incapable of consenting to sex.

The D.A., on the other hand, claims B.W. was agreeing to engage in the sex act, which does not require legally-effective consent. Plus, in Texas, state law allows minors to be charged with prostitution, so they claim her consent doesn’t even matter. They also claim that in jail, B.W. will have access to all sorts of educational, rehabilitative, and other services, whereas if she were free, she’d just go back into foster care, run away, and be back on the street.

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BusinessTravellers.org

By: M.G. Jack

BusinessTravellers.org is a new campaign of Stop The Traffik. The campaign’s goal is to educate the business traveler to identify the signs of Human Trafficking as they travel throughout the world. The site contains links to videos, documents, reports on the subject and the ability to report suspected cases of Human Trafficking travelers may encounter. Please click here to visit the site. This is a great resource for not only business travelers but all travels that care about Human Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism.

Note, suspected Human Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism can also be reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) Hotline at 1(866)DHS-2-ICE. ICE is the primary U.S. Law Enforcement agency with authority over these crimes.

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Child Trafficking Rings Kidnapping Haitian Kids from Hospitals

by Amanda Kloer

UNICEF has confirmed that at least 15 Haitian children have vanished from areas hospitals in the days since the earthquake, and they suspect those children — and more — are falling victim to child trafficking rings.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, thousands of children are separated from their families, with many not knowing whether their parents and guardians are still alive. And while humanitarian organizations can confirm children who go missing from hospitals and group homes, huge numbers of children remain on the streets, unaccounted for, just waiting to be picked up by traffickers.

A number of child protection organizations have come together to ask would-be parents not to apply to adopt Haitian children. Since the earthquake, the number of adoption applications for Haitian children has soared from 10 per month to 150 in a three day period. One U.S. adoption agency claimed it has already received over 1000 applications for children from Haiti. Child advocacy groups are concerned, however, that a bump in adoptions of Haitian children will only encourage child traffickers to abduct children and pass them off as orphans, hoping to make a tidy profit from their sale. While Western families trying to adopt Haitian children likely mean well, they may encourage child trafficking within the country. If you are considering adopting a Haitian child, please consider donating instead to a child protection organization working in Haiti.

But the children disappearing from hospitals may be on the road to a more sinister fate than life in the U.S. in a loving and stable home. Before the earthquake, Haitian children under 15 made up 45 percent of the population. With such a large number of poor youth, may children found themselves victims of sexual exploitation, forced domestic servitude, and forced labor. And as the chaos subsides and international aid moves out, the number of children victimized by traffickers will only increase. If the Haitian economy is too broken to support demand for maids or commercial sex, the children will likely be shipped to the Dominican Republic or other nearby countries, including the U.S.

Haiti is not a unique situation; human trafficking usually increases after natural disasters. In 2004, in the wake of the massive tsunami which struck Asia, thousands of children were left vulnerable. Human trafficking in that region saw a significant upswing. And the next major natural disaster will be the same. But for now, you can help the children of Haiti by supporting the organizations linked to above and not requesting to adopt a Haitian child right now.

Photo credit: Matt Drigdenberg

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ICE participates in Human Trafficking Awareness Day in South Florida

Reposted From: ethiopianreview.com

MIAMI – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Homestead Police Department (HPD), the Miami Dade Police Department (MDPD), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida (SDFL) participated in Monday’s national Human Trafficking Awareness Day to inform members of the community about the horrors and the prevalence of human trafficking and how to report it to law enforcement.

“ICE is committed to working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to inform our communities that this 21st century form of slavery exists in this day and age throughout the country and law enforcement is dedicated to rescuing victims and holding traffickers accountable,” said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Miami. “Because this heinous crime is extremely well-hidden, we need to help educate members of the public about human trafficking, and encourage them to keep alert for possible human trafficking victims.”

On Jan. 11, as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, special agents and victim advocates of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Miami along with officers and detectives of the HPD, MDPD, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office SDFL held an informational forum presented to school staff and counselors, parents and middle and high school students that are part of a Miami Dade’s Public School Program located at the Redland Housing in Homestead, Fla. Additionally, ICE special agents and HPD officers conducted outreach to farm and day laborers by giving out brochures and informational materials on human trafficking at labor drop-off and pick-up locations in downtown Homestead. Students also had the opportunity to participate in a leadership and rock climbing wall at the school. Councilman Elvis R. Maldonado is sponsoring and supporting this event on behalf of the City of Homestead.

Human trafficking is a tragic, serious cross-border crime, and ICE is the lead U.S. federal government agency responsible for investigating and dismantling human trafficking organizations. It is estimated that 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked around the world each year. These victims are trafficked into the commercial sex trade, and into forced-labor situations throughout the world. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs; instead, they are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor, or other types of forced labor.

The greatest challenge in combating human trafficking is victim identification. Surprisingly, many people are unaware that this form of modern-day slavery occurs every day in the United States. Victims may end up in a foreign country; are often unable to speak the language, and have no one to advocate for them. Traffickers often take away the victims’ travel and identity documents. They tell their victims that if they attempt to escape, their families back home will be either physically or financially harmed.

ICE is asking for the public’s help to remain alert to recognize and identify victims of modern-day slavery who are in our midst. They are domestic servants, sweat-shop employees, sex workers and fruit pickers who were lured here by the promise of prosperity. Ultimately, they are forced to work without pay and are unable to leave their situation. ICE is committed to giving them the help they need to come forward and help us end human trafficking with vigorous enforcement and tough penalties. As a primary mission area, ICE has the overall goal of preventing human trafficking in the United States by prosecuting the traffickers, and rescuing and protecting victims.

In 2008, the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force (SFHTTF) was created. The task force is housed in the ICE Office of the Special Agent in Charge Miami and consists of agents and officers of ICE, FBI, State Department-Diplomatic Security, Miami Dade Police Department, Homestead Police Department, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The SFHTTF investigates all instances and allegations of human trafficking in the South Florida region which includes cities as far south as Key West and as far north as Fort Pierce.

Additionally, the SFHTTF works closely with non-governmental and social service organizations in its human trafficking efforts. These organizations routinely forward information regarding potential victims and trafficking networks to the task force for investigation. The task force works with organizations to provide training to other law enforcement agencies and conduct outreach to other governmental agencies, such as foreign consulates, for the purpose of identifying potential victims that they may encounter at the local consulate offices.

(Source: ICE)

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Artists For freedom

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