Tag 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

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

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.

Continue reading

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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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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Why The Freedom Awards Are Important

Jolene Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Free the Slaves 

Free the Slaves created the Freedom Awards to celebrate today’s anti-slavery heroes and to catalyze additional innovation and resources to end slavery once and for all. The Awards program will define what successful, sustainable anti-slavery work looks like and build a vision of freedom for change-makers to adopt. 

In addition to the benefits derived by the Award winners themselves, the Freedom Awards program will:

  Dramatically expand the capacity and reach of grassroots anti-slavery programs.
  Proliferate creative and transformative leadership of people with the means to harness the energy and will of millions of people.
  Strengthen the infrastructure of the modern anti-slavery movement to last through the phases of abolition and the rehabilitation/reintegration of people who are currently enslaved.
  Provide inspiration and hope, through the personal stories and unquenchable determination of survivors of slavery, that will help fuel the anti-slavery movement through to eradication.

The longer term impacts of these Awards include defining, providing models for and disseminating what is known about ‘good practice’ of anti-slavery interventions at the community level, generating new knowledge about techniques for stopping slavery, inspiring increased funding and support for these interventions and informing responses to slavery at the policy level. The Freedom Awards will continually identify ‘the next frontier’ for the anti-slavery movement and demonstrate the next strategic steps that need to be taken to achieve a world without slavery.

The Freedom Awards are an outgrowth of Free the Slaves’ role within the global anti-slavery movement as an organization seeking to provoke innovative ideas and thoughtful reflection on what techniques have worked and which ones still need to be tried. Free the Slaves is guided by its work with community-based anti-slavery organizations in 5 countries where together they free people from slavery, help them rebuild their lives, and create fundamental change to bring slavery to an end.

The first Awards ceremony was held in 2008, 200 years after the law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States was enacted.

Each award salutes an individual who had significant impact on slavery both within the United States and elsewhere, and on the response of  Americans and others’ to slavery around the world. Their spirit continues on through the individuals and generations they brought to freedom, and today’s abolitionists who are inspired by their legacy.

Please visit the 2009 Freedom Awards page at FreeThe Slaves.net and watch the award ceremony video.

Human trafficking on the rise close to home

By Anita Kissée KATU News and KATU.com Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. – Often thought of as a problem occurring in some far away country, human trafficking is on the rise right here in Oregon, police say.

Exact numbers are hard to find but it is believed, in addition to all the adults, hundreds of local girls and even boys are victims of prostitution.

Police said they encounter up to five cases a week.

There are “little girls and boys that are being raped daily and there are men out there and sometimes women that are looking for that,” said Keith Bickford, a Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputy and the head of the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force.

Bickford hunts men like Jammie Smith who is wanted in Portland for reportedly forcing girls as young as 13 to walk 82nd Avenue and work local hotels.

“I can tell you right now, it’s the pimp,” Bickford said. “They’re very good at what they do.”

He said pimps can make $200,000 on one underage child.

Many are local victims who are runaways and one in three is contacted by a pimp within their first 48 hours alone.

“You throw out the fact I (the pimps) can give you a roof over your head and hot meals [and] this is what you have to do for me,” Bickford said about the tactics pimps use to ensnare homeless children into a life of prostitution. “They join right in, especially in the winter time.”

But Bickford said traffickers also prowl schools to recruit 12- and 13-year-olds, even those from solid families and churchgoers.

“If you’re being a good parent, you’re saying go to school, do your homework, eat your vegetables, go to bed, there’s a curfew, you’re (the parent) being responsible. [But] the pimp can go the other direction, ‘Well, you don’t have to come back at a certain time, you’re going to be the star of the show,’” said Bickford.

Oregon’s location is tailor-made for another category of victims, he said.

“You start throwing in the I-5 corridor, I-84, you have big waterways; the rivers are a great way to traffic people in and out.”

Those who are especially vulnerable are from poorer countries. Many in rural farm-worker communities are often trafficked by their own family and are too scared of outside unknowns to escape.

Portland’s location between Seattle and California also plays a part in the increase of human trafficking and the booming sex industry.

Police said, unlike drugs that are sold once, human victims can be sold over and over again, which make them more attractive to traffickers.

Human trafficking arrest uncovers sordid secret in Kenner, cops say

By Michelle Hunter, The Times-Picayune

Leonarda Martinez, 53, is charged with human trafficking

Authorities who raided the nondescript, single-story double at 239 Baylor Place in Kenner on Wednesday found an American flag displayed across the porch and a shockingly sordid secret in one of the bedrooms.

Leonarda Martinez, 53, is charged with human trafficking

A bordello of sorts was uncovered where resident Leonarda Martinez, 53, allegedly charged men $400 to have sex with women, according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office arrest report. But Martinez wasn’t booked with promoting prostitution, the standard state charge applied to those who pimp out sexual services.

Instead she was booked with human trafficking, accused of using fraud, force or coercion to provide those illicit services, the arrest report said. There are no details available about any possible victims or how they came to be involved with  Martinez. But if the charge leveled against her is proven true, the women were forced to have sex against their will, part of what authorities are calling modern-day slavery.

“Imagine being raped 25 times a day, six or seven days a week. It’s one of the most savage things that can happen,” said Bobby Gaston, coordinator of the local law enforcement arm of the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force, the agency that investigated the case.

The federally financed task force was authorized in 2006. Members include several law enforcement agencies around the state, as well as victims’ services agencies such as Catholic Charities and the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. But the enforcement side only recently dedicated three full-time officers to human trafficking investigations, Gaston said. Now, they’re poised to tackle any case in which a victim or victims are forced to labor against their will, be that at a construction job, in a field on a mattress.

The three-member team that probed the Kenner prostitution ring spent two months investigating the case. During Wednesday’s search at Baylor Place, they found a bedroom with two mattresses on the floor, condoms lying on a dresser and security bars on the window, the arrest report said. The team, comprised of one representative each from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Orleans Criminal Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), would not comment specifically on the case because it is still under investigation.

Martinez, who was also booked with letting her premises for prostitution, was still being held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna on Friday. Bond was set at $250,500, but immigration officials have a hold on her.

Gaston said the case marks the first sex trafficking arrest for the task force. However, they’ve already investigated a few similar suspected trafficking incidents, something that might come as a bit of a surprise to local residents.

Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar business with about 17,500 people trafficking into the United States each year, said Temple Black, spokesman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Trafficking involves coerced labor, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, whose office is also part of the task force. “It’s basically the bondage and slavery of other individuals,” Letten said.

Labor trafficking — forcing victims to work jobs in various industries including agriculture, hotel entertainment or construction — accounted for about 12 percent of the trafficking incidents reported nationally in 2007 and 2008, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Sex trafficking made up about 83 percent of the incidents and more than 90 percent of the victims were women and girls.

But not all the sex trafficking victims are foreign nationals. Many are Americans and a startling number are children between the ages of 11 and 14, according to Linda Smith, founder and president of Shared Hope International Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to rescuing and restoring such victims.

“Nine out of 10 of them are American middle school children,” she said.

Neither Gaston nor Letten could say just how prolific trafficking is in the New Orleans area. But some cases have made it to the public eye. In May, the Orleans Criminal District Court oversaw what prosecutors believed to be the first conviction under the state’s five-year-old human trafficking statute. Ricky Darnell Womack pleaded guilty to forcing a 15-year-old runaway girl from Arkansas to work as a prostitute out of an eastern New Orleans motel.

In Pennslyvania, federal prosecutors convicted 16 men on charges of  recruiting girls as young as 12 into prostitution and transporting them to sell their services in there as well as Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Louisiana. Smith, who interviewed some of the young victims, said the girls were pimped out to relief workers who came to New Orleans to help rebuild.

In October the Louisiana Federation of Teachers filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office about the California recruitment firm Universal Placement, which charged Filipino teachers $15,000 up front and a 10 percent cut of their salaries for jobs in New Orleans even though the Recovery School District paid the company $47,000 to bring in teachers.

And in December 2008, a group of 13 Mexican nationals filed a civil suit in Louisiana’s Eastern District Court alleging that the owner of Bimbo’s Best Produce Inc. in Amite forced them to pick strawberries by confiscating their passports and visas, sprayed them with pesticides, fired a shotgun over their heads and threatened them with arrest or deportation.

“No one can say with any certainly how bad the problem is in the area, but the conditions are ripe based on the migrant and transient population here post-Katrina,” Letten said.

On Going Investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force

December 3rd, 2009. Our Best Day Yet for ALENOW.org

On December 3rd, 2009 ALENOW.org got 321 hits in one 24 hour period. At least 321 people became aware and learned more about the evil crimes of Human Trafficking and Genocide. I pray they not only became aware but that they became inspired and maybe even angry and now they are members of the fight and activists for the cause. I am looking forward to a day in the near future we will blow away the number 321. (MGJ)