I WANTED IT TO BE HER

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The search team huddled around the photograph of the homeless woman panhandling at Tropicana Avenue and Jones Boulevard.

 

The picture gave them hope.

 

They studied the woman’s leathery skin and straight blond hair. Her narrow-set eyes hugged the bridge of a small, sloping nose hung above a pair of thin lips.

 

They glanced back at the pictures of a grinning 21-year-old Jessie Foster just before she went missing eight years ago in Las Vegas, then gasped. A lot can change in that time, but those lips, that nose — could it really be her?

 

“Oh, my lord,” Mary Borchers said.

 

“Yeah, we got to go down there,” Shannon Forsythe said.

 

Borchers is an advocate for sex-trafficking victims and a friend of Jessie’s mother, Glendene Grant.

 

Foster’s story in the documentary “Trafficked No More,” which was broadcast last month on several Las Vegas television stations, had brought in new tips about Foster’s possible whereabouts. But Grant, who lives in Kamloops, British Columbia, couldn’t follow up on all of the tips.

So on Sunday, Borchers traveled to Las Vegas from Los Angeles with Forsythe and members of her sex-trafficking victims’ assistance nonprofit group, Run 2 Rescue, to resume the search into a question no one has been able to answer since 2006: What happened to Jessie?

 

They dispatched 15 volunteers to pass out fliers Monday morning. It was then — when two volunteers had handed a flier to the homeless woman — that the photo had been taken. The woman didn’t say she was Jessie, but she said the missing person on the flier looked familiar.

 

That didn’t matter to Forsythe, founder of Run 2 Rescue. If Foster is in fact a sex-trafficking victim, she could have been afraid to admit her identity.

 

“We need to cut the meeting short,” Forsythe said to the waiting volunteers at East Vegas Christian Center.

 

The homeless woman could still be near Tropicana and Jones, but Borchers and Forsythe knew their window was closing. It was almost 5 p.m. and getting dark.

 

They piled into a Ford Explorer with another woman from Run 2 Rescue and two men for protection, and sped toward Tropicana and Jones.

 

• • •

 

Jessie vanished in 2006 from North Las Vegas, like a drop of rain on the desert floor.

 

In May 2005, she had come from Kamloops to the Las Vegas Valley. A month later, Jessie moved in with her boyfriend, Peter Todd — a man Jessie’s parents, Dwight Foster and Grant, barely knew.

 

When Jessie went missing — she last spoke by phone with her mother on March 24, 2006, and was last seen by Todd on April 3, 2006 — Grant filed a report with North Las Vegas Police. After learning Jessie had been arrested in June 2005 and had an outstanding warrant for prostitution, Grant was certain their second-oldest daughter — a former honor roll student — was a victim of sex trafficking.

 

Police searched Todd’s home. They interviewed him twice. He said Jessie took her belongings and drove off. Authorities didn’t find anything suspicious, North Las Vegas Police Lt. Tim Bedwell said.

 

They tracked every lead they could, even tips from psychics, but all police ever found were animal bones in the desert. They even got two retired officers to search every recent missing-persons case for a link. They found nothing.

 

Grant and Foster insisted Todd was a pimp and blamed him for Jessie’s disappearance. With no evidence to indicate otherwise, police cleared Todd of wrongdoing.

 

Jessie’s case grew cold.

 

Nearly eight years later, Jessie’s case still haunts the department. Bedwell can still picture Jessie grinning without a care in the passenger seat of a car.

 

“We’ve conceded for a very long time that even though this is a missing-persons case, common sense says there’s been a crime committed and she’s a victim,” Bedwell said. “We just don’t know what, and we can’t find evidence.”

 

Jessie’s disappearance changed the course of Grant’s and Dwight Foster’s lives.

 

They entered a world of what-ifs and body watches, holding their breath every time human remains were found in Las Vegas.

 

Early on, the mystery festered like an open wound. What if Jessie is alive and being tortured? What if she died alone in the desert?

 

The macabre thoughts went on and on for the parents.

 

That first year, Grant refused to leave home and let her cupboards go empty. She struggled to take care of her two other daughters and grieved constantly. She quit her job and focused her efforts on trying to find Jessie.

 

Grant and Dwight Foster hired a private investigator and made several trips to the valley to comb the city for their daughter. Still, no luck.

 

Then, near the end of the first year, Grant said she received a sign that helped her move forward. While on a flight to Las Vegas, she had learned police had found Shawn Hornsbeck, a child who had been kidnapped in Missouri and had been missing for four years.

 

Grant knew then Jessie might not come home any time soon. Grant would be in it for the long haul.

 

“Once I knew, it was easier to wait for the next few years to go by,” Grant said. “I don’t know how to explain that, but I just knew.”

 

• • •

 

Doris weaved the Ford Explorer through the rush-hour traffic on Interstate 15, toward Tropicana Avenue.

 

“If she says, ‘yes,’ we take her right there,” said Doris, Run 2 Rescue’s outreach coordinator, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her identity.

 

“We need to get her in the car and out of town to make sure no one follows us,” Forsythe said. “Then out of the state tonight.”

 

“We also need to consider law enforcement,” Borchers said.

 

Borchers thumbed through photos of Jessie as she listened. The similarities between Jessie and the homeless woman were unbelievable.

 

Still, the searchers reminded themselves the woman might not be Jessie. There are nearly 2 million people in Clark County. The odds of finding Jessie on the streets were slim.

 

Regardless, they would help the woman if she needed it.

 

About 10 minutes later, Doris exited onto Tropicana and sped past an adult video emporium and the Orleans. They notified a safe house at an undisclosed location to prepare for Foster. A plan was formulated.

 

They prayed.

“Let it be Jessie,” Forsythe said. “Let it be Jessie.”

 

• • •

 

Grant learned long ago to give up any expectations when people searched for her daughter.

 

She knows getting worked up will only make her crazy. Instead, Grant focuses on what she can control — her advocacy work.

 

After a detective told her no one would be interested in Jessie’s story, Grant’s mission became to prove the detective wrong.

 

Jessie’s story has appeared in documentaries, books and enough newspapers to fill three scrapbooks. Grant has traveled to high schools and universities across Canada, sharing her daughter’s story. She started Mothers Against Trafficking Humans in Jessie’s name.

 

Each time Grant helps another parent deal with losing a loved one to human trafficking, or helps someone by sharing her own story, she’s keeping Jessie alive.

 

Grant also prays … a lot.

 

“I don’t lose hope, but I don’t daydream about the what-ifs,” Grant said. “Those are the ones that will put you in the psych ward.”

 

Her ex-husband, Dwight Foster, from whom Grant has been separated since the late 1980s, has struggled to move forward. Grant said Dwight Foster was consumed with Jessie’s disappearance.

 

Dwight Foster stays up all night and sleeps all day. He is no longer the happy-go-lucky guitar player he once was. He even quit his job.

 

“Somewhere in his dad mind, he probably felt that he didn’t protect her,” Grant said.

 

Grant has chosen not to live in the past. She recently moved out of the home in which Jessie grew up. Grant has moved into a new home with new furniture.

 

Grant knows she can never go back to the life where Jessie brought friends over to bounce on the trampoline and pick grapes off vines. In those days, Grant always thought Jessie would grow up and do hair and makeup for movie stars.

 

Those are just memories now. Grant knows she can’t go back to that life, even if Jessie is still alive.

 

Still it isn’t easy to move forward. Grant cries once a day for Jessie and posts often on Facebook, promising to bring her home no matter what. Even if Grant doesn’t expect answers, she needs one.

 

“It means I don’t have to think Jessie’s being raped,” Grant said. “I don’t have to think that the crows picked her bones clean.”

 

• • •

 

Grant’s mind raced; she couldn’t sleep.

 

It was close to midnight, and Metro Police hadn’t finished scanning the woman’s fingerprints. Grant remained glued to her phone, struggling to remind herself not to expect anything.

 

Earlier that night Borchers, Forsythe and Doris had found the homeless woman. She appeared intoxicated and wouldn’t comment on whether she was Jessie. Borchers snapped three photos and sent them to Grant.

 

The first two pictures didn’t look like Jessie at all, but the third picture — could it be? Grant couldn’t say for certain. The search team needed to find out more. Borchers called Grant and gave the phone to the woman.

 

They wanted to see her react to Grant’s voice.

 

“Please,” Grant said into the phone. “I just need to hear you speak so I can tell.”

 

No response. The woman grew angrier. That’s when the search team decided to call Metro so they could determine the woman’s identity for certain.

 

“There were at least a dozen people stating that it was her, including our own team,” Borchers said. “Even law enforcement said the same thing: that it was her.”

 

After midnight, the fingerprint results came in. It wasn’t Jessie.

 

“I wanted it to be her,” Grant said.

 

The next day, the search resumed.

 

source:  http://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/feb/21/after-eight-years-hope-remains-alive-even-if-missi/#.UwdrtAFQw9k.twitter

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sex Trafficking Bust

It was hell on earth just a few feet away from well kept homes and legitimate businesses. Young women and girls locked away in rooms above cantina forced to have sex with strangers.

“They were hiding in plain sight.” Says Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

Cell phone video captured the opening phases of the raid.. The task force alleges that pimps trafficked in the women from Mexico. The girls and young women were rented out for fifteen minute intervals. They were beaten if they failed to satisfy and then after the place closed.. they were taken to other places to have sex until dawn. Three of the businesses occupied one building.. Ironically one has a sign reading “not minors” in Spanish. Another one, Las Palmas., was right down Telephone road.

It was all under the control of a the family’s 66 year old matriarch named Hortencia Medeles Arguello. nicknamed Tencha. Most of the people indicted are related. The fourteen people indicted face a variety of charges, from prostitution to money laundering.. A family member who was not indicted says they are innocent.

“These are hardworking people. they are innocent. they go to church. they just have the wrong information and wrong people.” Says Maine Arroyo Rodriguez.

Attorney Todd Dupont might represent some of the indicted.. he says because they are related the state could have a rough time of it.

“History tells us that it’s very uncommon but it happens that family is going to want to cooperate against other family members.”

Over the course of the two and a half year investigation they rescued twelve women, five of them under fifteen. The task force knows there are more victims out there and they want to hear from them.. They say the victims don’t have to fear deportation.. They’d also like to hear about one of the accused pimps. .a Mexican national named Alfonso Diaz-Juarez.. He is on the run but has a reward on his head… But as sad as this story is.. it gets worse.. here’s why.. Those on the front likes of the human trafficking problem think the fight is far from over.

“Unfortunately I’m not sure we made a huge dent. Like the sheriff alluded to there are other businesses out there doing this and there are other victims out there. This is one case. This is one investigation.” Said Special Agent In Charge Stephen Morris with the FBI.

Thursday night’s raid netted twenty-two women. The task force doesn’t’ know yet ifd they are part of the conspiracy, are innocent employees, or more victims.

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source: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/23673231/2013/10/11/sex-trafficking-bust#ixzz2hbMRILDU
Published in: on October 16, 2013 at 9:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Modern Slavery in Europe

Human trafficking is the 21st century’s modern form of slavery, and it concerns the entire European Union. Trafficking in human beings is an extremely profitable business for organized crime and can take different forms of exploitation; from sexual exploitation and illegal adoption to forced labor, domestic work, illegal trade in human organs and begging. Human trafficking can target men and women as well as girls and boys of different nationalities, relying on threats, fraud, deception, and different forms of coercion and abduction.

 

The question to address is how to overcome this dramatic phenomenon and what measures to take to diminish the number of victims in the EU in general, but particularly in the Eastern Partnership countries.

 

Very often the root of this phenomenon lies in economic disparity, lack of opportunities and employment, poverty, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, unemployment particularly affects women who, striving to survive in their home countries, take up and leave their homes in search for work and a better life elsewhere. Their helplessness can be exploited by traffickers looking to sell cheap labor abroad.

 

Lithuania has become the most important country for transit between Eastern and Central Europe, as well as a destination country for women and girls subjected to human trafficking. Lithuanian women are victims of sex trafficking in Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Women from Eastern bloc countries are transported from these countries through Lithuania to Western Europe, with about 12 percent of them remaining and working as prostitutes in Lithuania. Once they are entangled in the prostitution business in Lithuania, they suffer from discriminations and sexual exploitation before perhaps being trafficked onwards to Western Europe.

 

Lithuania is trying to combat all forms of human trafficking and to protect the rights of victims. The government has strengthened anti-trafficking laws, but large challenges still remain.

 

Anti-trafficking activities undertaken in cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries can help to build networks between Lithuania and other countries in the battle against human trafficking. In November, the Eastern Partnership summit will take place in Vilnius. The countries involved have placed their hopes for commercial integration into the European family on this meeting. However, factors like deficiencies in human rights, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and human trafficking are getting in the way of Eastern Partnership countries’ integration into Europe.

 

To overcome these shortcomings, we need to boost coordinated actions against human trafficking between European Parliament member states and Eastern Partnership countries to cooperate effectively with each other across borders.

 

In Lithuania and other EU member states, as well as in Eastern Partnership countries, the main effort has to go towards raising the population’s awareness and making the profile of the trafficking problem clear and understood. These public awareness actions should target potential adult victims of trafficking and in schools and universities, where they can take different forms like seminars, public lectures and other anti-trafficking events.  My country is undertaking such a public awareness action by filming a movie about a Lithuanian girl who becomes a victim of human trafficking, which will hopefully contribute to understanding the trends of human trafficking both inside and outside a country.

 

Legislation against human trafficking is an effective legal instrument but further coordinated actions among member states and non-EU countries to address the issue must be taken in order to put these legal instruments into practice. These coordinated actions can include the establishment of partnerships and training among government agencies and groups both inside and outside the EU.

 

Despite the implementation of different legislation targeting human trafficking, the working methods of human trafficking can change and can adapt to these legal frameworks and provisions. But a better understanding of the human trafficking phenomena and an effective reaction from citizens can help to diminish its flow. Identifying the extent of the problem in the EU as well as outside can be the key to stemming the increased levels of human trafficking. In Lithuania, Europe and outside the EU it is time for everyone of us to act on each level — local, national and European — in order to eradicate the slavery of the 21st century: human trafficking.

 
 
source:  http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/modern-slavery-in-europe/487603.html#ixzz2hKVIfo00

Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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US Victims of sex trafficking ‘need the body of Christ’

 

Victims of sex trafficking 'need the body of Christ'
Although largely unrecognized, sex trafficking in the U.S. is a serious problem, and its victims needs the loving support that the Catholic Church can give, says the head of a D.C.- based ministry.
“We need to get people to pay attention to the plight of American girls,” said Candace Wheeler, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Restoration Ministries, which seeks to bring Christ’s love and aid to victims of sex trafficking.
“These girls need the body of Christ, and the body of Christ needs them.”
 
Human trafficking is a pressing problem in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, 82 percent of reported U.S. human trafficking between January 2008 and June 2010 involved sex trafficking allegations, and as many as 300,000 children are at risk of sexual exploitation each year.

 

“Every country has this problem,” Wheeler told CNA on Oct. 1, but there is a lack of awareness, and many people “are more concerned with foreign women and girls being trafficked than with their own.  People often assume that women and children who are trafficked “choose to be there” and have “written them off,” saying that “they’re bad girls, they’re runaways and throwaways,” she added.  However, many of the girls at risk for sex trafficking are from broken homes or the foster system, and “they have typically been violated before the age of five.”

 

“When they have been violated by a family member, by someone who is supposed to be taking care of them, they have linked love and sex together,” Wheeler explained, adding that these girls “are easy prey” because “by the time she’s 11 or 12, traffickers can just spot a girl who has no self-worth.”  Because of their troubled family situation, “all they’ve ever known, in most cases, is brokenness,” she said, and as a result, “healthy feels scary for them.”  While it is possible to escape from the “mindset” of trafficking and abuse, it is difficult, she continued, requiring both consistency and an understanding of what normalcy is.

 

Wheeler’s organization, Restoration Ministries, works to identify victims of trafficking, going regularly into prisons and mental institutions, where victims of sex trafficking are often held, in order to build relationships with people.  “Just sitting down and listening gives them value and validation as people,” she said.  From there, Restoration Ministries works to intervene in current cases of trafficking and prevent future cases.  Ultimately, fighting sex trafficking requires a big-picture, cooperative approach, Wheeler said.

 

“We have to have the right laws in place, but the laws have to be enforced,” she explained. But a legal solution alone is not enough. Factors leading to sex trafficking often start with the family, and it is crucial that a long-term solution take the family into account as well.  Many times, Wheeler said, girls are sent back to abusive homes with a court order to participate in family therapy, but “the families don’t participate, or it’s lip service.”

 

Another challenge is that psychological therapy for victims takes times – often years – to be effective, she said. Many cities become frustrated when therapy, which can be expensive, does not quickly yield results, and therefore limit or end funding for it.

 

Despite these challenges, however, Wheeler remains hopeful. She said the Church has come together to help trafficking victims in recent years.  “We don’t need government money, and they don’t really have any anyway,” she said, calling for religious and church communities to “really come together and be strategic,” while at the same time offering up “prayer and fasting” to aid victims of sex trafficking and eliminate its root causes in the U.S.

 

 

source:  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/victims-of-sex-trafficking-need-the-body-of-christ/

Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 10:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kara Nichols Missing Update: Colorado Teenager Model Photo Found on Website, Victim of Human Sex Trafficking?

A 19-year-old Colorado teen model named Kara Nichols was reported missing less than two months. Recently, photos of the teenager was found on a Las Vegas escort service website. This may provide clues for the police investigation to find the young aspiring model.

The erotic photos that were discovered were taken down from the website and there has been no more confirmed reports about Nichols being in Las Vegas.

“We had not seen those photos. Those are not in her bedroom. I don’t know if they are a Photoshopped situation or not,” Michelle Bart said representing Nichols’ family. “Unfortunately, this has definitely shaken the family quite a bit, that somebody would be this vicious.”

Nichols’ family and friends have not heard from her since October 9, 2012, when she apparently left to attend to a modeling gig in Denver, Colorado.

The illegal sex industry is a subculture that has long exploited young aspiring models to be involved in “illicit drugs and prostitution.” CBS affiliate KLAS reported that Nichols may have fallen victim to human sex trafficking.

There were some sites related to the illegal business in the search history of the websites Nichols visited.

If anyone has information regarding the missing teenager, please contact El Paso County Sherirff’s Office at 719-390-5555 or Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP.

Read more at http://www.mstarz.com/articles/6711/20121201/kara-nichols-missing-update-colorado-teenager-model-photo-found
Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cleveland man gets 20 years in sex trafficking case

A judge has sentenced a Cleveland man to 20 years in prison following his conviction on charges he forced a 15-year-old girl into a two-state prostitution scheme.

Defendant Ernest McClain had previously pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution and possession of child pornography.

Investigators said McClain and a co-defendant forced the 15-year-old runaway to prostitute herself 10 times a day over a month with 200 men.

Investigators said the pair also forced the girl from Ohio to Pennsylvania for the purpose of prostitution.

Cleveland federal judge Aaron Polster sentenced McClain to 20 years in prison Friday. McClain’s attorney declined to comment.

Co-defendant Chardee Barfield was previously sentenced to 70 months in prison.  Yes now how cool is that!

source:  www.nctimes.com/blogsnew/news/immigration/oceanside-couple-arrested-for-sex-trafficking-a-child/article_5cb1b427-e25e-51c2-8caf-34e2daddd228.html

One Woman’s Tale Of Surviving Sex Trafficking

When we hear “victim,” we may think of victims of violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse, rape. Victims of sex trafficking and exploitation often suffer all those tragedies combined.

Sex trafficking is a subset of the larger problem of human trafficking, which President Obama spoke out against during the Clinton Global Health Initiative in September:

It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.

Asia Graves, a victim of underage sex exploitation who was trafficked from Boston up and down the east coast, chose to speak out as well.  In 2010, she testified against her pimps, landing six men in jail. She now works as a case manager for FAIR Girls, which works against the exploitation of women.

Since 2010, Massachusetts has made strides to deal with human trafficking. In 2011, the state passed its first human trafficking bill, which went into effect in in February. In August, the Polaris Project, which rates all states on their laws combating human trafficking, named the Bay State the “Most Improved in 2012.”

When it comes to sex trafficking and exploitation, Suffolk County has been leading the state in its efforts to provide services for victims since 2005. One organization, My Life My Choice, focuses on adolescent girls vulnerable to exploitation. The co-founder and director, Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, joins us today to talk about what’s being done across Eastern Massachusetts to address the growing problem of underage sex trafficking.

Despite public and private efforts, Graves says there’s still much more to be done, and she too joins Radio Boston to share her harrowing tale from victim to survivor.

Guests:

 

source: http://radioboston.wbur.org/2012/11/30/sex-trafficking-exploitation

 

Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 3:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Texas senator cracks down on human trafficking

The U.S. Senate passed the Child Protection Act of 2012 on Tuesday, legislation several years in the making that will help protect victims of child pornography, sexual abuse and trafficking by strengthening law enforcement’s ability to apprehend the culprits.

The act — which was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and approved just prior to Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January — passed in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The bill now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

According to the U.S. Department of State, thousands of men, women and children are trafficked to the U.S. for sexual and labor exploitation. Many of these them are lured from their homes with false promises of a better life. Instead, they are entered into prostitution or other types of forced labor, according to the department.

“We need to provide law enforcement with every tool they need to crack down on the most vile criminals — child sex predators and traffickers — and protect the innocent young people who fall victim to these heinous crimes. This is an issue we can all agree on, and I’m pleased Congress has passed this important measure in a bipartisan fashion,” Cornyn said in a release. “I hope the President will sign this bill swiftly to bring greater justice and protection to victims and allow law enforcement to take immediate steps to stop child predators and traffickers in their tracks.”

Currently, the maximum prison term for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 18 years of age and younger is 10 years. The Child Protection Act would make the maximum prison term 20 years.

Current law gives courts the option to issue protective orders restraining harassment of minor victims and witnesses. After Obama signs the bill, however, the law will require judges to issue one if they find that a child witness is the target of harassment or intimidation.

By allowing courts to make this finding on their own motion, judges are encouraged to take an active role in protecting child witnesses in their courtroom, Cornyn said. The provision also fills a gap in current law by creating criminal penalties for intentional violation of these orders.

Other provisions originally outlined in the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act — legislation introduced by Cornyn and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last year — that are included in the bill entail the reauthorization of funds for Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which train executive and judicial officials on how to deal with cases of child sexual abuse.

“Law enforcement and advocacy organizations across the country are hard at work to crack down on the scourge of human trafficking,” Cornyn said. “Unfortunately, this is a pervasive crime that continues to destroy the lives of victims. Sadly major cities in Texas, such as Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, are hubs for human trafficking due to a variety of factors, including major transportation thoroughfares, access to the border, and a high population of runaway youth who are more at risk to fall victim to trafficking.”

The term “human trafficking” and details of its underworld have been defined as a serious domestic problem in recent years. Current penalties for certain child exploitation offenses still do not recognize the aggravated nature of that crime when it is committed against young children.

In response to this, the Dallas office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations and leaders from 17 other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies formed the North Texas Trafficking Task Force two years ago.

Designed to combine expertise, training and law enforcement to identify human traffickers and prosecute them while also protecting victims, the NTTTF also consists of six police departments from the DFW area, including Plano.

With the human trafficking industry being even more secretive than other crimes, ICE relies heavily on tips from the public to dismantle these organizations. To help further educate the public, the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign was created to increase awareness.

“You can’t put a dent in it unless the public is aware because that is where the majority of our leads come from,” said Carl Rusnok, spokesman for ICE Central Region in Dallas.

With 29 press releases on ICE’s website pertaining to child pornography and exploitation in November alone, it’s clear that these crimes are increasing and the problem is mounting. Many people still do not understand that these threats are so close to home, said Shawn McGraw, group supervisor for the NTTTF.

“We view it as the public is not aware of it and people are still kind of shocked when you bring it up to them,” he said. “This is relatively new — it’s a learning process. It’s still so new people don’t know what it is or that it’s happening in their backyards. We have very few experts in it.”

In an effort to evolve the law to more effectively keep traffickers behind bars, prosecutors will typically use whatever laws they can to combat this crime, McGraw said.

“It’s taking the tool out of the tool belt and using it best you can,” he said.

If they’re not charged with trafficking, they use similar charges like harboring or a multitude of violations in order to create the outcome they want. The more arrests that are made, the more ICE and the NTTTF can help perfect the law.

Last year, the NTTTF made 48 criminal arrests, but there’s a lot more work to do, said Sean Carson, assistant special agent for the NTTTF. Cornyn’s act will hopefully enable them to do just that, he said.

“Our goal is to get more cases before judges to get these violators taken down,” Carson said. “They’re selling human flesh for profit. They’re earning large sums on a commodity that is reusable and resalable, much more than narcotics or illegal arms.”

source:http://www.scntx.com/articles/2012/11/30/news_update/5946.txt#share

Facebook Rally: Ask Wyndham to Stop Child Sex Trafficking at Their Hotels

If you have two minutes to spare while playing around on Facebook today, you can help stop child sex slavery in the U.S. Despite recent high-profile cases of gangs pimping young girls at Wyndham hotels, the company has still not signed The Code of Conduct to Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation in the Travel and Tourism Industry. Will you leave a message on their Facebook wall asking them to sign?

Recently,  police have busted two gangs for sex trafficking young girls at Wyndham  hotels. At one California hotel, Wyndham staff acted as lookouts and  accepted bribes from the traffickers, while they sold over a dozen girls  as young as 14. At another Virginia hotel, Wyndham staff ignored 6-7  men per night coming and going from a room where a 15-year-old girl was  being held in sexual slavery. Gang-run child sex trafficking at Wyndham  hotels needs to stop, immediately. Here’s what you can do:

 

(more…)

How to End Sex Trafficking in Massage Parlors in Your Community

This is part two of an interview with Jessica Goodman, a student activist at
Carnegie Mellon University who is doing research on anti-trafficking issues and
helping rally support for a proposal that would help end sex trafficking in Pittsburgh
massage parlors. Here, Goodman outlines how you can get a similar ordinance
passed in your own community. To read part one, click
here
.

1) Investigate. Read through the johns’ boards; see how many
massage parlors are in your area. Making a map helps; ours was color-coded by
city council district to make it easy for people to see how close these places
are to our homes and schools. Be warned: these boards can be extremely graphic
and disturbing.

2) Identify. Look for the best person or office to introduce
the ordinance. Perhaps your county has more investigative powers than your city;
maybe your state house is the best place to look. Ending human trafficking is a
non-partisan issue, so feel free to look for supporters from outside of your own
experience. We have received wonderful support from the religious community in
Pittsburgh, including Sister Jeanette Bussen, a local nun and anti-trafficking
activist who I would never have met without this work.

3) Instigate. Start drumming up community support. Ask to
talk for 15 minutes at the ends of college clubs’ meetings, present to church
groups and contact local fraternal organizations. Ask local massage therapists
if they know where illegitimate establishments are located; because johns
sometimes confuse good businesses with places to buy sex, some massage
therapists have been sexually harassed by them. These places are deeply embedded
in our communities — in Pittsburgh, not one of the 15 brothels posing as
massage parlors is more than a few blocks from a church, synagogue or mosque. It
is an issue on everyone’s plate, whether we know it or not.

Once you have the knowledge, the institutional and the community support, you
may need to address the concerns of local business owners, consult law
enforcemen and make sure that your case is as solid as possible. And ask for
help — the Project to End Human Trafficking and I are committed to getting this
passed in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. If you live in Pittsburgh, please consider
volunteering for or donating to the Project to End Human Trafficking
or handwriting a letter of support to Mayor Ravenstahl.

I am a bit of a policy wonk, so my first reaction to a new issue is to do
research. For me, reading through all of the materials put out by the National
Human Trafficking Resource Center, calling the National Human Trafficking
Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 for information on anti-trafficking organizations in
my area and reading the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report
gave me enough of a foundation to form an opinion about how to best combat
trafficking in Pittsburgh.

If you are better with counseling than I am, volunteer to work with
survivors. It can be satisfying work, if not always fun. If you only have a
little time, consider writing a paper on trafficking. I bet you $10 donated to
your favorite anti-trafficking organization, I can take any term-paper topic and
find a way to make it about ending trafficking. Seriously. Email me.

The most important thing any student can do is to learn the signs of human
trafficking. Confinement, abuse, debt-bondage, threats, minors in commercial
sex, adults in jobs they can’t leave — these are things anyone can see anytime
and report to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). The call
specialists keep track of all of the tips they receive and pass them on to law
enforcement. Together, we can end sex trafficking in our communities.

source: http://news.change.org/humantrafficking.rss