SACRAMENTO-The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Crimes Against Children Unit and its state and local law enforcement partners are pleased to announce the recovery of six children who were being victimized as prostitutes in the Chico, Redding, Sacramento, and Vallejo areas.
The number of minors recovered locally is one of the highest in the nation, making this local achievement one of Operation Cross Country VI’s top success stories.
The Sacramento Division of the FBI and multiple local and state law enforcement participated in the operation from June 19 through June 23, 2012. In addition to six juveniles recovered in Sacramento, multi-agency teams also arrested six pimps during the three-day operation. The local efforts account for nearly eight percent of the children rescued during Operation Cross Country VI.
In addition to the FBI Sacramento Division, the following agencies participated in last week’s local operation:
- Butte County District Attorney
- California Highway Patrol
- California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
- Chico Police Department
- Redding Police Department
- Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department
- Sacramento Police Department
- Vallejo Police Department
Operation Cross Country is a multi-day, national enforcement action targeting the domestic sex trafficking of children. The operation is coordinated by the Innocence Lost initiative and is a partnership between the FBI, state and local law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Since the first Operation Cross County in June 2008, multi-agency teams in the Sacramento Division’s area of responsibility have recovered 23 children and arrested 18 pimps.
Nationwide, 226 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in 57 cities participated in Operation Cross County VI, resulting in the rescue of 79 children and arrests of 104 pimps. There are 47 task forces and working groups throughout the country addressing the issue of child sex trafficking.
Up to 27 million people are living in slavery around the world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton estimated as the US unveiled its annual report into human trafficking.
But the report showed that as governments become more aware of the issue, instigating tough new laws and programs to help victims, progress is being made in wiping out what it called the “scourge of trafficking.”
“The end of legal slavery in the United States and in other countries around the world has not, unfortunately, meant the end of slavery,” said Clinton.
“Today it is estimated as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, what we sometimes call trafficking in persons,” she said at the unveiling of the report at the State Department.
“Those victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys, and their stories remind us of the kind of inhumane treatment we are capable of as human beings,” said Clinton.
“Whatever their background, they are the living, breathing reminders that the work to eradicate slavery remains unfinished.”
As America prepares to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the emancipation of US slaves, people must reflect on “how much further we have to go to free all these 27 million victims,” Clinton added.
Out of the 185 countries included in the 2012 report, only 33 complied fully with laws in place to end human trafficking, putting them at the top of a four-tier ranking system.
But five countries had moved up from the bottom blacklist known as tier 3, including Myanmar and Venezuela, to be included among the 42 countries now on what is known as a tier 2 watchlist.
Myanmar was removed from the blacklist because the government “took a number of unprecedented steps to address forced labor and the conscription of child soldiers; these steps amount to a credible commitment to undertake anti-trafficking reforms over the coming year,” the report said.
Syria however fell onto the blacklist for the first time, in a move which could cut off any US aid and make it harder to get US backing for funds from organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“The government of Syria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination oftrafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so,” the 2012 Trafficking in Persons report said.
Among the 16 other countries on the blacklist were Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Kenya slipped down onto the watchlist for the first time in five years, while Nigeria lost its place on tier 1, moving down a notch as the report highlighted that women and children were forced into labor and sex trafficking.
But Clinton hailed the fact that a total of 29 countries had been upgraded to a higher ranking, “which means that their governments are taking the right steps.”
They included Bangladesh, which was bumped up to tier two for making significant efforts to comply with minimum standards, including passing “a comprehensive anti-trafficking law” in December.
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the office to combat trafficking in persons, said while the number of people officially identified as victims of trafficking and slavery had gone up by 28 percent since last year to 42,291, the numbers of prosecutions in 2012 had also increased by 10 percent to 3,969.
So while countries “still have a little ways to go” there was “the beginnings, I think, of a real trend,” he said.
This year’s report focuses on how to better protect the victims, and urges governments to meet the challenge head-on.
“Traffickers are criminals. Governments — which alone have the power to punish criminals and provide legal recourse to survivors — cannot waver in their efforts to confront modern slavery,” the report says.
But it also argues that human trafficking takes many guises and it is not just about moving people across borders to trap them in prostitution.
“The United States government, and increasingly, the international community, view ‘trafficking in persons’ as the term through which all forms of modern slavery are criminalized,” it says.
“The essence of the trafficking experience is the denial of freedom, including the freedom to choose where and how you live, the freedom to work or choose not to work, the freedom from threats, and the freedom of bodily integrity,” the report says.
BY NOEL RANDEWICH, REUTERS JANUARY 2, 2012
A new California law will force retailers and manufacturers to disclose how they guard against slavery and human trafficking throughout their supply chains, ratcheting up scrutiny of some of the largest U.S. corporations.
Beginning today, about 3,200 major companies doing business or based in California, a list that includes Apple and Gap Inc., will be required to disclose steps they take, if any, to ensure their suppliers and partners do not use forced labour.
Companies risk getting sued by the state attorney general if they flout that law. But experts say the real pressure will come from the court of public opinion: consumers who care about ethical working conditions and take an interest in how their favourite brands get made.
Apple has already come under fire. Suicides at supplier Foxconn, which makes the iconic iPhone, raised questions about working conditions at plants in southern China.
Apple declined to comment on the new legislation.
The heightened scrutiny expected under the law, which applies to retailers and manufacturers in the state with more than $100 million in global sales, is already spurring companies to take a closer look at practices they follow, and in some cases improve them, lawyers say.
“It’s a law that makes sure that companies who are aware of the issues, but could be managing them better, come to the realization that this is the moment where they better get a better handle on them,” said Jon Sohn, a lawyer at McKenna, Long and Aldridge in Washington. “Anything that can harm your brand should be taken seriously.”
Child labour and slavery, broadly defined as forced labour, run rampant not just in emerging markets like Asia and Latin America, but also within developed economies such as the United States.
The U.S. Department of Labor says children and forced labourers produce 130 kinds of goods in 71 countries, numbers that have probably increased during the economic crisis.
More than 12 million people are victims of forced labour, the International Labor Organization says.
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, a group that helps human-trafficking victims in Los Angeles – often people working in restaurants and the beauty trade – cosponsored the legislation and wants consumers to reward companies that do the most to prevent forced labour.
“Companies following the policy and going beyond what is required should be congratulated,” said Stephanie Richard, the coalition’s policy director. “We encourage people to support companies that utilize this law to re-examine their supply chains.”
Justin Dillon, head of advocacy group slaveryfootprint. org, points to Apple and Gap as companies that have made major efforts to improve and communicate their policies following labour issues at their foreign suppliers .
The suicides at the plants associated with Apple cast a harsh spotlight on what critics dubbed a militaristic culture, pushing workers to the brink to meet unceasing demand for the company’s iPhones.
In response, Apple stepped up the number of supplier facilities it audits, to ensure they meet its code of conduct. Apple has also trained more workers in its supply chain about their rights under the Apple code of conduct.
Gap, whose apparel brands include The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, over the past decade has been accused of benefiting from sweatshops and child labour in Saipan and India.
Anxious to preserve its corporate image, Gap has yanked clothing allegedly manufactured by children from its stores and stepped up monitoring of factories in its supply chain to make sure migrant workers are not forced to hand over their passports to managers or are otherwise coerced.
“What the bill does is beg the question,” Dillon said. “That’s great that that’s what you’re doing, but what more are you going to do?”
Ahead of the new law, expected to largely affect the electronics and clothing industries, Silicon Valley companies including Intel and Agilent Technologies have posted documents on the Internet detailing their policies.
Intel said third-party audits of key suppliers cover slavery, but not human trafficking.
But it plans to specifically address human trafficking early next year.
A drive to slash costs has quickened in tandem with global trade and industry competition in past decades. Increasingly complex supply chains that criss-cross the world make it harder for executives to scrutinize all the companies that have a hand in producing their products.
Under the new law, companies are required to describe the extent to which they verify risks of human trafficking and conduct independent and surprise audits of their suppliers.
They also have to disclose whether they force suppliers to certify the materials they use comply with laws regarding human trafficking and slavery, and whether employees receive training to reduce the risk of slavery.
Keith Bishop, a partner at law firm Allen Matkins, said he advised companies directly affected by the new law, and then received a second wave of inquiries from many of those companies’ suppliers.
They wanted to know what measures to take to meet their customers’ requirements.
“The act, rather ingeniously, specifically regulates relatively few companies, but impacts a very large number of companies,” Bishop said.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal agency has sued a California-based labor contractor and farms in Washington and Hawaii alleging discrimination against more than 200 Thai workers in what was called its largest human trafficking case in agriculture.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits Tuesday against Beverly Hills-based Global Horizons Inc. and six farms in Hawaii and two in Washington.
Global Horizons lured workers from 2003 to 2007 with promises of steady jobs and agricultural visas but confiscated their passports and threatened to deport them if they complained, the agency said in a statement.
It said workers faced abuse and threats while being provided dilapidated housing.
The agency is seeking back pay and damages.
Global Horizons could not be immediately reached for comment because the phone numbers listed on its website were not working.
Thai workers at times were forced to live in rat-infested rooms where many workers did not have beds, the federal agency said.
They were forbidden from leaving, assaulted by supervisors and isolated from non-Thai workers who appeared to be working under different conditions, the agency said in its statement.
“All workers — foreign and U.S. — are protected under the law and have the right to complain of such employment abuses which poison the moral fabric of our society,” said Olophius Perry, district director for the commission’s Los Angeles district office.
Global Horizons recruited Thai workers to come to the United States under the federal government’s agricultural guest worker program, known as H-2A.
Six Global Horizons recruiters were indicted last year in federal court in Hawaii on charges of luring hundreds of workers from Thailand with promises of lucrative jobs before confiscating their passports, failing to honor their labor contracts and threatening to have them sent home.
The indictment said Global Horizons supervisors charged impoverished Thai workers between $9,000 and $26,500 in recruitment fees to secure jobs in the United States.
They threatened to send the workers back to Thailand when they complained about a lack of work and poor living conditions, knowing many would be afraid to return because of the substantial debts they undertook to finance the trip, court papers said.
IN SOUTH BAY MOVIE THEATERS BEGINNING APRIL 1st
San Jose Police, partners, create and launch video to educate movie-goers
about modern-day slavery
In an effort to raise the public’s awareness of modern-day slavery, the San Jose Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Force, working with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and federal agencies, will begin showing a 60-second video in South Bay movie theaters on April 1st. The public service announcement encourages persons to take action if they suspect a human trafficking situation by phoning the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888). The campaign is made possible through a grant from the United States Department of Justice / Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The awareness campaign will run for 12 weeks, in 13 theaters, on over 90 screens, including the Eastridge Mall 15, Mercado 20, Oakridge 20, Salinas Northridge Mall 14, and Santa Cruz 9.
Since 2005 the SJPD task force has partnered with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking to identify and rescue victims of trafficking, provide comprehensive services to trafficking survivors, train law enforcement, and increase the public’s awareness of trafficking. The task force and coalition bring together federal and local law enforcement agencies with victim-services professionals to provide a multi-disciplinary response for trafficking victims in the four South Bay counties; Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey.
The video was designed by SJPD Police Artist Gil Zamora, and features original music and lyrics by San Jose musician Alyssa Rose.
The video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw_rl8js810
The issue of modern-day slavery has been a focus of the U.S. Department of Justice since 2000, when Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The act defined trafficking as the obtaining of labor, or the act of commercial sexual exploitation, of a person through force, fraud, or coercion. A grant program created in 2005 funds 40 collaborative efforts nationwide. According to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, issued by the Department of State, 12.3 million people are held in forced or bonded labor, or forced prostitution, worldwide.
According to South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking chairwoman Perla Flores, “Under the Trafficking Victims Protect Act, victims are guaranteed certain rights and services, such as immigration benefits, medical services, and pro bono or low-cost legal assistance. Working with the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, we are able to assist victims in reclaiming their inherent rights to safety, security, and hope.”
The South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking is a collaborative of local victim-services providers including the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, Next Door Solutions to Violence, Community Solutions, the YWCA of Silicon Valley, and others, and is funded through a grant from the U.S. DOJ / Office for Victims of Crime.
Law enforcement task force members include the San Jose Police, FBI, ICE, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Department of Labor.
Additional information can be found at the following:
|South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking:||www.sbcteht.com|
|National Human Trafficking Resource Center:||www.polarisproject.org|
(maintained by the Polaris Project)
They have initiated class action lawsuit for human trafficking
Over 500 Indian citizens who were brought to the United States to work in shipyards, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, have initiated what might well become the largest class action lawsuit for human trafficking in U.S. history.
According to a statement by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has joined in the lawsuit in support of the plaintiffs, the workers were trafficked into the U.S. through the federal government’s H-2B guest-worker scheme “with dishonest assurances of becoming lawful permanent U.S. residents and subjected to squalid living conditions, fraudulent payment practices, and threats of serious harm upon their arrival.”
The court filing by the plaintiffs alleges that recruiting agents employed by the marine industry company Signal International withheld the guest-workers’ passports, forced them to pay exorbitant fees for recruitment, immigration processing and travel, and threatened the workers with serious legal and physical consequences if they did not abide by restrictive employment conditions imposed by the company.
Further, the complaint against Signal International alleges that after they arrived in the U.S., the men were compelled to live in the company’s “guarded, overcrowded labour camps, subjected to psychological abuse and defrauded out of adequate payment for their work.”
In a statement, the ACLU said it was also charging the federal government with falling short of its responsibility to protect the rights of guest-workers in the country. According to the lawsuit that it filed along with the workers, the treatment of the workers violated the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
In comments made to the ACLU, Kurian David, a class representative in the lawsuit, said: “We hope the court will give us all a chance to make our voices heard and to right the wrongs that were done against us. Signal and the other defendants should be held accountable for what they did to so many guest-workers who worked for them.”
Further, the ACLU quoted Murugan Kandhasamy, a class representative in the lawsuit, as saying: “I speak on behalf of hundreds of Indian guest-workers subjected to abuse by Signal and its co-conspirators. We came to America for good jobs and opportunity, which we were denied, and now we are asking for justice.”
An ACLU Human Rights Programme attorney, Chandra Bhatnagar, noted that the workers had been “victimised by systemic deficiencies in the U.S. guest-worker program and subjected to trafficking and racketeering at the hands of the defendants,” adding that they would be seeking to assert their fundamental human rights.
by Lisa Chavarria and Brad Woodard / 11 News
Posted on February 17, 2011 at 8:41 AM
Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 6:26 PM
HOUSTON – The owners of a local bar and restaurant are among 10 people accused of bringing young Mexican women and girls to Houston and forcing them into prostitution, U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno said Thursday.
The 10 defendants were taken into custody during an overnight raid at the La Costenita night club and El Club Restaurante, located in the 8300 block of Clinton Drive.
“I applaud the bravery of the young lady who made the 911 call for help in this case, and commend the efforts of the agency members of the HTRA for the investigative efforts to rescue the victims in this case and apprehend their oppressors,” Moreno said.
The three-count indictment against the defendants was returned by a Houston grand jury on Tuesday and was unsealed Thursday.
“The crimes alleged in this indictment are unconscionable,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers.
“While we can’t erase the harm done by these horrible acts, the FBI and other members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance will continue to ensure the victims of these crimes are protected and their traffickers are brought to justice.”
Maria Rojas, 46, one of the owners of the bar and restaurant, and her 38-year-old brother, Jose Luis Rojas, who operated La Costenita and adjacent properties, are accused of conspiring to hold persons in conditions of peonage and recruiting, holding, transporting and providing and obtaining persons for sexual services.
According to the indictment, Maria and Jose Rojas were involved in the recruitment of Mexican nationals, ages ranging from 14 to 30, to travel to the U.S. with the false expectation of legitimate jobs in bars and restaurants, beginning in 1999. Once the women arrived, the indictment alleges that the suspects used force, fraud and coercion to compel the women to work as prostitutes at their businesses.
“Their families back home are under threat,” said Deputy Adrian Garcia with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s put into the minds of these women if they don’t cooperate, if they do have family back home terrible and horrible things will happen to them.
The indictment also alleges that beginning in 2003, the conspirators changed their tactics and began relying on pimps to provide the girls and young women and to keep them from escaping.
Maria and Jose Rojas are accused of initially making their profits by doubling the amount of the smuggling fee charged by coyotes, which was then taken from the earnings of the women. When the operation changed to include pimps, the Rojas siblings allegedly collected $15 from each deal made by the prostitutes.
“They’ve found a way to keep them in perpetual debt,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez. That dress they bought them for $15 is suddenly a $100 dress. The food they provide, instead of $10, it’s $50.”
The conspiracy charge levied against Maria and Jose Rojas carries a statutory penalty of up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.
The remaining eight defendants are Javier Guevara Belmontes, 46; Maday Martinez Lindero, 34; Evelin Carloine Aguera, 37; Claudia Perez Ramirez, 27; Silvano Santos, 33; Francisco Midardi Maradiaga, 33; Olvan Renieri Ramirez Caceres, 25; and Aleyda Maria Juares, 27.
Investigators said Belmontes also owned, controlled and operated La Costenita and El Club Restaurante. Martinez and Aguera were allegedly managers at La Costenita and at the adjacent property where the prostitutes would take their dates. Ramirez, Santos, Jimenez and Caceres allegedly worked as lookouts to warn of police presence. Investigators said Juares charged the victims for condoms and the use of the rooms at the adjacent property.
Those eight defendants, along with the Rojas siblings, are charged with conspiring to harbor illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain. If convicted of that offense, the defendants could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Maria Rojas is also charged in the third and last count of the indictment with illegal re-entry into the United States after deportation, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.
“Human and sex trafficking is modern-day slavery and it’s happening right here in our own back yard,” said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. “These indictments prove that we will not tolerate it and that we will pursue the individuals involved in this kind of crime to the furthest extent of the law. These arrests, while they’re just the tip of the iceberg, are an example of the results that working together diligently with local and federal agencies can produce.”
Houston, because of its proximity to Mexico, has become a hub of sorts.
“We have an international airport, we’re an international city,” said Steven Goff with the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. “It’s easy to blend in. Our proximity to Mexico, we also have a huge commercially-oriented sexual business industry here in Houston.”
Maria and Jose Luis Rojas, Maday Martinez Lindero, Silvano Santos and Claudia Perez Ramirez are Mexican nationals. Four others—Evelin Carolina Aguero, Olvan Renieri Ramirez Caceres, Aleyda Maria Juares and Francisco Maradiaga Jimenez—are Honduran nationals. Javier Guevara Belmontes is a legal permanent U.S. resident originally from Mexico.
The defendants all made initial court appearances Thursday and were scheduled to appear at a detention hearing Friday afternoon.
The case was investigated by the FBI, ICE, Harris Co. Sheriff’s Office, The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Texas Attorney General’s Office; the Department of State – Diplomatic Security Service, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston Police Department.
Feb 17, 2011
By Blair Tellers – Gilroy Dispatch
A human trafficking victim held in a Gilroy warehouse and abused sexually for nine months will receive the Healing Hearts award from Community Solutions on March 18 at the Morgan Hill Cultural Center at 17000 Monterey Rd.
Emelen Recillas will be honored with the award, which recognizes individuals overcoming significant barriers and challenges who are now leading healthy and productive lives, according to Perla Flores, director of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking programs for Community Solutions.
In 1997, Recillas was a 21-year-old immigrant when she came to the United States to work at a restaurant/bar in Morgan Hill which is now closed, Flores said.
“She was tricked into coming into the United States,” said Flores. “They told her she would be working in someone’s restaurant, but she was forced into a situation of sexual confrontation and prostitution.”
Flores said the 34-year-old Hollister resident was under the impression she would be earning her keep as a waitress, but was instead forced into prostitution with men at the establishment in order to repay her “debt.”
Flores said when Recillas wasn’t working, she stayed inside a dimly lit, padlocked warehouse with one barred window and 31 other women at 7373 Monterey St.
The building is now unoccupied.
Recillas found a way out of her situation nine months later when the restaurant was shut down, according to Flores.
One day, Flores said the truck that picked the women up for work every day didn’t show up, and Recillas later learned the bar was shut down.
Recillas never saw the restaurant owner again, according Flores.
Flores said Recillas later reported her story to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2009 after watching a TV special on human trafficking and realizing she had been a victim. “It’s not just the typical restraints, or guards,” said Flores, explaining why Recillas didn’t just “escape” while she was at work.
“There’s also the emotional component to it.” Flores explained the man who recruited Recillas knew where she came from, knew her family and threatened to harm those she loved if Recillas ever fled. “When they would call back home,” someone would monitor their phone calls,” said Flores. “And in their home county, law enforcement is corrupt … there are a lot of ways to control someone without having to shackle them.” Flores said
Recillas and the other captive women feared deportation if they went to the police. “There are those tangible ways to control someone against their will, but emotional issues come into play as well,” she said.
Recillas is now eligible for the same benefits as a refugee, according to Flores, such as health and gaining vocational skills.
Flores said Recillas is proactive and determined to do whatever she can, but also explained law enforcement does not have enough evidence to charge anyone at this point.
According Sgt. Wes Stanford of the Gilroy Police Department no reports have been filed concerning these circumstances.
Calls made to the Morgan Hill Police Department pertaining to Chiquis restaurant were not returned at time of publication.
Community Solutions provides treatment, intervention in mental health, assisting victims in child abuse and domestic violence among other programs to help communities from South San Jose to San Benito County.
Flores’ department works daily to raise community awareness about preventing domestic violence and human trafficking and interacts daily with victims.
Blair Tellers Blair Tellers is a staff writer for the Gilroy Dispatch. Reach her at email@example.com or call (408) 847-7158.
Monday February 7, 2011
Nurses and physicians generally lack knowledge about indicators of human trafficking when they encounter victims during their shifts, according to a new report.
Published in the February edition of the American Journal of Nursing, the report suggests ways in which clinicians can recognize the signs of trafficking and intervene to help victims.
Categories of human trafficking include sex trafficking, labor trafficking — such as debt bondage, forced labor and indentured servitude — and trafficking in child soldiers.
The report cites a study by the Family Violence Prevention Fund of 21 survivors of human trafficking in the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta areas. Researchers found 28% of the survivors had come into contact with healthcare providers while in captivity, but the providers did not realize their patients were being trafficked.
“Although there has been an increase in the number of non-governmental organizations that address trafficking issues and a growing public awareness over the last decade, many people, including healthcare professionals, remain uninformed about the problem,” said the report’s author, Donna Sabella, assistant clinical professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, and director of education for the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
“As the largest group of health professionals, and therefore the ones most likely to encounter trafficking victims, nurses are in a position to help intervene at several points — from the initial encounter when we can identify the situation to the victim’s rescue and restoration to health.”
According to the report, between 600,000 and 800,000 adults and children are trafficked across international borders, including 14,500 to 17,500 into the United States. An unknown number of victims are U.S. citizens, according to the report, and the majority are women and girls.
According to the report, nurses should be aware of the following signs that indicate possible trafficking and take appropriate steps to have the matter investigated:
• The person does not speak fluent English and someone else is speaking for him or her.
• The person appears disoriented.
• The person has no identification or travel documents or someone else is holding the documents.
• The person has no spending money.
• The person appears to be under the control and supervision of someone else who never leaves the person alone.
• There are signs of malnutrition, dehydration, drug use or addiction, poor general health or poor personal hygiene.
• There are signs of physical abuse or neglect, such as scars, bruises, burns, unusual bald patches, tattoos that raise suspicion (for example, “Property of —” or gang-like symbols), or untreated medical problems.
• The person appears depressed, frightened, anxious, or otherwise distressed.
• The person’s story about what he or she is doing in this country or on the job does not make sense.
• The person lives with an employer or at the place of business and cannot give you an address.
• Those who brought the person in for treatment are resistant to letting you speak with the person alone.
“Nurses have traditionally received little training in recognizing victims and understanding how to effectively intervene,” said Maureen Shawn Kennedy, RN, MA, editor-in-chief of AJN. “It’s critical that nurses and other healthcare providers become knowledgeable in this area, because the time when a trafficking victim presents with a health problem may be one of the only chances that victim will have to get help.”
Read the full report at www.ajnonline.com and listen to a podcast interview of the author as part of AJN’s “Behind the Article” series offering insight and additional information related to the report.
If you suspect that someone is a trafficking victim and are unsure how to proceed, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888.
By Mickey Goodman
ATLANTA | Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:10pm EST
ATLANTA (Reuters) – Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Sunday’s Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.
As the country’s largest sporting event, the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Dallas-Fort Worth area a magnet for business of all kinds.
That includes the multimillion dollar, under-age sex industry, said activists and law enforcement officials working to combat what they say is an annual spike in trafficking of under-age girls ahead of the Super Bowl.
“The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting in January.
Girls who enter the grim trade face a life of harsh treatment and danger, according to a Dallas police report in 2010. Few who emerge are willing to speak about it. Tina Frundt, 36, is an exception.
Now married and living in Washington D.C., Frundt was lured into sex work at 14 after she fell for a 24-year-old who invited her to leave home in 1989 and join his “family” in Cleveland, Ohio.
That family consisted of the man and three girls living in a motel. When Frundt declined on the first night to have sex with her boyfriend’s friends they raped her.
“I was angry with myself for not listening to him, so the next night when he sent me out on the street and told me … (to earn $500) I listened,” she said in a telephone interview.
Frundt paced the streets for hours and finally got into a client’s car.
When she came home in the morning with just $50, her pimp beat her in front of the other girls to teach them all a lesson and sent her back onto the street the next night with the warning not to return until she had reached the quota.
The scenario was repeated night after night as Frundt’s pimp moved his stable across the Midwest. Any sign of rebellion led to further beatings. Escape seemed out of the question.
“I was a teenager in a strange town with no money and no place to go,” she said. She finally escaped by getting arrested.
Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the U.S. sex industry annually, according to a 2007 report sponsored by the Department of Justice and written by the nonprofit group Shared Hope International.
Some 90 percent of runaways and children whose parents force them to leave home fall into the trade and are often beaten, drugged, raped or imprisoned to force compliance, said a section of the report which referred to Atlanta.
Pimps tattoo girls with “$” signs or the word “Daddy” and take them to unfamiliar cities where they are more vulnerable.
Typically, pimps recruit unwitting girls at shopping centers, mall events and on the Internet. Once ensnared, shame, fear and psychological manipulation by pimps make it hard to break free.
Clients, often called “Johns”, hook up with girls via the Internet, through hotels, massage parlors, strip clubs and escort services, the report said.
“At previous Super Bowls, pimps hired cab drivers to turn their vehicles into mobile brothels,” said Deena Graves, executive director of child advocacy group Traffick911.
Up to 10,000 adult and under age girls have come to previous Super Bowls, said Jerry Strickland, communications director in the Texas attorney general’s office, who acknowledged that precise figures are hard to gauge.
“The statistics are a moving target. They (under age sex workers) can’t be counted in turnstiles like ticket holders,” he said in an interview.
Law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups rescued around 50 girls during the previous two Super Bowls, said Graves. Six were registered on the Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. One had been trafficked from Hawaii.
“Even one rescue is considered a success,” said Frundt who now advocates for exploited girls and has founded a girls’ treatment center and a safe house for girls in Washington D.C.
To fight the trade, authorities, child welfare advocates and the airline industry are collaborating.
Representatives from American Airlines, Delta, United, Quantas and American Eagle are holding a training session to help them spot signs of trafficking. Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors International, will also work with another 100 flight crews to distribute materials on flights.
Some 67,000 people signed a petition on http://www.change.org opposing sex trafficking as part of a campaign by Traffick911 called “I’m Not Buying It!” that is supported by 60 nonprofits and faith-based groups.
That campaign has also attracted heavy hitters like Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff, a three-time Pro Bowler, who made a public service announcement entitled “Real men don’t buy children. They don’t buy sex.”
Ratliff, who himself has two daughters, is recruiting other National Football League players for the campaign.
“You hear of sex trafficking overseas,” he wrote in an email from Hawaii where he is playing in the Pro Bowl. “But you never imagine it is happening in the United States.”