Holder touts pros­e­cu­tions of traf­fick­ing of hu­mans

More than 120 cases brought in ’11, he says

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JERRY SEPER

The Jus­tice Depart­ment ini­ti­ated more than 120 cases against hu­man traf­fick­ers dur­ing 2011 — a record num­ber — in what At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thurs­day was a part of the depart­ment’s com­mit­ment to pre­vent­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing, bring­ing traf­fick­ers to jus­tice and as­sist­ing their vic­tims.

Mr. Holder, speak­ing at a Washington meet­ing of Pres­i­dent Obama’s In­ter­a­gency Task Force to Mon­i­tor and Combat Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons, said the com­mit­ment has “never been stronger — and our ap­proach has never been more ef­fec­tive.”

“Our work has sent a clear and crit­i­cal mes­sage: that, in this coun­try — and un­der this ad­min­is­tra­tion — hu­man-traf­fick­ing crimes will not be tol­er­ated,” he said. “This work has saved lives, en­sured free­dom and re­stored dig­nity to women, men and chil­dren in vir­tu­ally ev­ery corner of the coun­try. We’ve lib­er­ated scores of vic­tims; se­cured long prison sen­tences against in­di­vid­ual traf­fick­ers; and dis­man­tled large, transna­tional or­ga­nized crim­i­nal en­ter­prises.”

Mr. Holder said that over the past three years, the depart­ment had achieved “sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in hu­man-traf­fick­ing pros­e­cu­tions,” in­clud­ing a rise of more than 30 per­cent in the num­ber of forced­la­bor and adult sex-traf­fick­ing pros­e­cu­tions.

In Fe­bru­ary 2011, the Jus­tice Depart­ment be­gan a Hu­man Traf­fick­ing En­hanced En­force­ment Ini­tia­tive to take its coun­ter­traf­fick­ing en­force­ment ef­forts to a new level. As part of that ef­fort, Mr. Holder an­nounced the cre­ation of the Anti-traf­fick­ing Co­or­di­na­tion Team Ini­tia­tive, an in­ter­a­gency col­lab­o­ra­tion among the de­part­ments of Jus­tice, Home­land Se­cu­rity and La­bor aimed at stream­lin­ing fed­eral crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of hu­man-traf­fick­ing of­fenses.

Six Phase I Pi­lot Acteams have since been ac­ti­vated in At­lanta; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Los An­ge­les; Mem­phis, Tenn.; and Mi­ami.

“By bring­ing fed­eral in­ves­tiga­tive agen­cies and fed­eral prose­cu­tors to­gether, they’re al­low­ing us to de­velop and ad­vance high-im­pact hu­man-traf­fick­ing pros­e­cu­tions,” he said.

Mr. Holder also noted that over the past year, the depart­ment had:

Dis­man­tled a large, transna­tional or­ga­nized crim­i­nal en­ter­prise that held Ukrainian vic­tims in forced la­bor in Philadel­phia.

Brought free­dom to il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Cen­tral Amer­ica and con­victed the traf­fick­ers who — with threats and vi­o­lent abuse — com­pelled them into forced la­bor and pros­ti­tu­tion in restau­rants and bars on Long Is­land, N.Y.

Re­stored free­dom to il­le­gal im­mi­grants from East­ern Europe and con­victed the traf­ficker who bru­tally ex­ploited them in mas­sage par­lors in Chicago, and even branded them with tat­toos to claim them as his prop­erty.

Se­cured a life sen­tence against a gang mem­ber in Virginia for the sex traf­fick­ing of vic­tims as young as 12 years old.

“We’re also tak­ing steps to forge and strengthen part­ner­ships across in­ter­na­tional borders — which, as we’ve seen re­peat­edly, are es­sen­tial,” he said, adding that Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials and Mex­i­can law en­force­ment had dis­man­tled sex-traf­fick­ing net­works op­er­at­ing on both sides of the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der — “bring­ing free­dom to the vic­tims, and se­cur­ing land­mark con­vic­tions and sub­stan­tial sen­tences against the traf­fick­ers in these high-im­pact bi­lat­eral cases.”

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