ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES ANNOUNCES ENHANCED PROGRAMS TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING
National Conference Focuses On Victim Issues And Law Enforcement Solutions
Today's announcement was made at the 2006 National Conference on Human Trafficking in New Orleans, where representatives from federal, state and local organizations have gathered to discuss methods of investigating human trafficking and servitude and how victim services are structured and defined.
"Human trafficking is a violation of the human body, mind and spirit. For this vile practice to be taking place in a country that the world looks to as a beacon of freedom is a terrible irony and an utter tragedy," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. "This funding will help cement partnerships between law enforcement agencies and victims' services organizations, and enable the Trafficking Task Forces' work of identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking as well as apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators of these unconscionable crimes."
Increasing and prosecuting human trafficking has been a major priority of the Department of Justice. Under the direction of the Attorney General, the U.S. Attorneys and the Civil Rights Division have taken the lead in prosecuting human trafficking cases at the federal level. In fiscal year 2006, the Civil Rights Division, working with the various U.S. Attorneys' offices, initiated 167 investigations, charged 111 defendants in 32 cases and obtained 79 convictions involving human trafficking defendants which reflected more than a twofold increase in convictions over the previous year. In April 2006, the Department of Justice obtained two of the longest sentences ever imposed in a sex trafficking case—50 years each for two defendants in New Jersey.
From fiscal years 2001 to 2005, as compared to fiscal years 1996 to 2000, the Justice Department's trafficking investigations have quadrupled, the number of defendants charged has tripled, and the number of defendants convicted has doubled.
Justice Department prosecutors are also supporting the President's Initiative Against Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism by performing assessments of anti-trafficking activities in targeted countries and making recommendations on program development. For example, prosecutors have worked with their Mexican counterparts to undertake joint investigations, to conduct training for police and prosecutors, and to assist Mexican policymakers in developing anti-trafficking legislation in that country.
Including the new funding announced this morning, the Department of Justice now supports 42 victim-centered law enforcement task forces located throughout the United States including Alaska, Hawaii, and in American Samoa and the Northern Marianas. These task forces are collaborations among U.S. Attorneys, law enforcement, and victim service agencies. Their activities focus on increasing the identification and rescue of trafficking victims through proactive law enforcement, which includes designing a protocol response to the identification of victim services, provision of services, investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.Recipients of the 2006 law enforcement awards are:
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. More information about OJP's work on human trafficking can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov. More information about the efforts of the Civil Rights Division can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/about/offices/ocr.htm.