News and Press Releases

human trafficking rescue project

synergy services will lead coalition to
assist victims of human trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 29, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Synergy Services, Inc., has been selected to lead the victim services arm of the district’s human trafficking task force, the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

“We are pleased that an organization with the reputation and expertise of Synergy Services is leading our coalition to provide services to victims of human trafficking,” Phillips said. “Synergy has been a partner agency since the launch of our task force and we’ve been impressed by their professionalism and by their compassion toward trafficking victims.”

The Human Trafficking Rescue Project (HTRP) is the district’s human trafficking task force. Synergy will lead the victim services arm of the task force, the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, which consists of numerous non-government organizations that collaborate with HTRP to provide necessary services for the victims of trafficking.

Synergy Services has been providing violence prevention and intervention services to the area for the past 40 years. The agency’s executive director, Robin Winner, described the partnership as a natural fit. “We look forward to bringing our experience in victim services to this important collaborative effort,” she said.

The Human Trafficking Rescue Project was launched in 2006 to combat human trafficking. The federal task force is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The task force also partners with non-government organizations to provide necessary services for victims of human trafficking. Today, more than 60 non-government organizations are members of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking. Synergy Services will now serve as the leadership agency for all of the organizations contributing to the Coalition. 

Nine non-government organizations who are members of the Coalition have also been selected to participate in a new case manager program: Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA), Rose Brooks Center, Catholic Charities, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), Synergy Services, Inc., Veronica’s Voice, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, Services for Independent Living and The Victim Center. Each of these organizations provides personnel to serve as certified case managers for the victims. Each trafficking victim will receive a case manager to coordinate and facilitate services for them throughout the investigation and prosecution of the case. The case managers will rely on all of the partnering members of the Coalition for service resources. Synergy Services will assist in leading the case manager program and facilitate additional support and services for each of the case managers. 

HTRP embodies the Justice Department’s victim-centered approach because it is specifically engineered to identify victims, provide them with immediate protection and support, and work with them to further investigate and prosecute the traffickers.

HTRP has become one of the most successful human trafficking task forces in the country. The investigation and prosecution of human trafficking is a priority at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri, which has prosecuted more trafficking cases than any other district in the United States. HTRP has investigated both commercial sex trafficking and forced labor violations. While the prosecutions have resulted in array of charges, they are primarily prosecuted under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  The cases have involved the rescue of both adults and minors, including both international and domestic victims.

The law enforcement arm of the task force consists of several primary investigatory agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General; U.S. Department of Labor – Division of Wage and Hour; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Kansas City, Mo., Police Department; and the Independence, Mo., Police Department. 

In 2011, the Western District of Missouri was selected as one of six nationwide Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams, a new initiative involving federal law enforcement agencies who investigate human trafficking offenses. As a part of the district’s ACTeam designation, the Western District of Missouri’s task force leads a new partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the District of Kansas and the Eastern District of Missouri to cross coordinate efforts with their federal participating agencies.

HTRP is led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. 

If you have a tip regarding possible human trafficking, please call the hotline: 1-888-428-7581.

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