Officials learn how to spot signs of human trafficking

Human trafficking exists in central Alabama, but it has re­mained mostly hidden, federal prosecutors say.

Human trafficking is divided into two categories, sex traffick­ing and forced labor, said U.S. Attorney Leura Canary.

“Basically, it is modern slav­ery,” Canary said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alaba­ma held a seminar Thursday to teach law enforcement officers and social service providers how to spot signs of human traf­ficking.

Right now, human traffick­ing is not being discovered, Ca­nary said, because it is not being investigated.

The U.S. attorney’s office has tried cases that appeared to in­clude elements of human traf­ficking, but it was impossible for prosecutors to prove it, Ca­nary said.

“We have had cases where we have strongly suspected (hu­man trafficking),” Canary said.

A state law against human trafficking passed the Legisla­ture on the final day of the ses­sion and was signed by Gov. Bob Riley.

A federal law against human trafficking has existed since 2000.

Human trafficking does not necessarily involve transport, but rather denotes using force or coercion to make someone en­gage in sexual activities or per­form labor against their will.

Many — but not all — human trafficking victims are immi­grants, some of whom have been tricked into forced servitude aft­er being promised passage into the United States.

Some perpetrators tell immi­grants that they can work off their debt after arriving in the country, said Assistant U.S. At­torney Monica Stump.

The debt, however, contin­ues to grow, and the victim is perpetually trapped into per­forming labor for the perpetra­tor, Stump said.

Sex trafficking often involv­es a woman whose life is com­pletely controlled by a pimp, Stump said.

“What may look like prosti­tution may be human traffick­ing,” she said.

The pimp does not allow the woman to talk, and if she does talk, she has been given a story to tell people, including authori­ties or social workers, Stump said.

“There is a whole code and culture for how it works,” she said.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal indus­try in the world, according to the National Human Traffick­ing Resource Center. It is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, with drug dealing being the largest.

Investigating human traf­ficking can be difficult when dealing with immigrants, Ca­nary said.

Many of them don’t trust law enforcement because the police in their countries are corrupt, she said.

Many women who have been forced into prostitution do not even realize the situation they are trapped in constitutes a type of slavery, Canary said.

They have come to accept the life, she said.

In any human trafficking case, it is critical to gain the vic­tim’s trust, Canary said.

“If we lose them, they walk away and we lose the whole case,” she said.

Attendees at the seminar in­cluded Montgomery police offi­cers and representatives from the One Place Family Justice Center.

Educating the people who have the opportunity to inter­vene when situations appear to involve human trafficking is key, Canary said.

“The ultimate goal, of course, is to try to stop (human traffick­ing),” Canary said.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal indus­try in the world, according to the National Human Traffick­ing Resource Center. It is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest, with drug dealing being the largest.

Investigating human traf­ficking can be difficult when dealing with immigrants, Ca­nary said.

Many of them don’t trust law enforcement because the police in their countries are corrupt, she said.

Many women who have been forced into prostitution do not even realize the situation they are trapped in constitutes a type of slavery, Canary said.

They have come to accept the life, she said.

In any human trafficking case, it is critical to gain the vic­tim’s trust, Canary said.

“If we lose them, they walk away and we lose the whole case,” she said.

Attendees at the seminar in­cluded Montgomery police offi­cers and representatives from the One Place Family Justice Center.

Educating the people who have the opportunity to inter­vene when situations appear to involve human trafficking is key, Canary said.

“The ultimate goal, of course, is to try to stop (human traffick­ing),” Canary said.

source:  http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20100521/NEWS01/5210332/Officials+learn+how+to+spot+signs+of+human+trafficking

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