Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales
at the Buffalo Border Visit Press Conference

Buffalo, New York
November 14, 2006

Good afternoon. Joining me on the stage is Erie County Sherriff Timothy Howard and U.S. Attorney Terry Flynn.

I am pleased to be here in Buffalo to commend the important work being done by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York and our law enforcement partners here. I would also like to recognize Mike Battle, the former U.S. Attorney for Western New York and now Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, who traveled up with me from Washington.

I had the opportunity today to see some of the border crossings around the area, and to hear about the different challenges to our law enforcement community. I also had the opportunity to discuss the close working relationship we have with our counterparts in Canada. The strong partnership we have with our northern neighbor is crucial to our efforts to face these challenges.

We have worked hard over the past few years to develop innovative programs to tackle many of our greatest challenges along the border…including drugs, firearms, border enforcement, and mass-marketing fraud. We have had many successes, and our hard work is paying off.

Today I am also pleased to announce an important step forward in our efforts against crime in the Western District of New York—the creation of a new Human Trafficking Task Force.

Human trafficking is a violation of the human body, mind, and spirit. And President Bush has made pursuing and prosecuting human traffickers a top priority. Here in the Buffalo area, local law enforcement and non-governmental organizations came together and sought federal help in their fight against this modern-day slavery, and we are proud to support their cooperative approach.

It was through the cooperation of local groups and the Department of Justice that we were able to shut down a forced labor operation involving Mexican field workers at pumpkin farms not far from here in Albion.

This case shows that no region of our country is immune from the cruelty of human trafficking, and this area is no exception. Indeed, its large ethnic communities and the many farming communities utilizing migrant labor are factors making this area attractive to human traffickers. By coming together to address this problem, Western New York is taking a stand against human exploitation. We know that we must work together to fight human trafficking, and we must intensify our efforts. Because right now the victims of these criminals are out there…they are suffering, and they are waiting for our help.

I am proud to be working with your local law enforcement, like Sherriff Howard, and your community organizations as we strive to save these men, women, and children so that all of us may enjoy the blessings of our free society.

And now I'd be happy to take any questions.