Special Initiatives

The Department has launched and supported a number of special projects designed to enhance internal, interagency, and international collaboration and to efficiently marshal resources to better serve trafficking victims and investigate and prosecute their traffickers. 

Special initiatives include:

Federal Strategic Action Plan

In committing the United States to being a leader in the global movement against human trafficking, President Obama asked federal agencies to develop a plan to strengthen services for victims of human trafficking. Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity: Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking, 2013-2017 builds on the progress that our nation has made in combating human trafficking through government action and partnerships with allied professionals, survivors, and concerned citizens.

The purpose of the Plan is to describe the steps that federal agencies will take to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified and have access to the services they need to recover and rebuild their lives. The Plan focuses on providing and coordinating support for victims, and it aligns with all other federal efforts to eliminate human trafficking and prevent further victimization.

Task Forces and Working Groups

The most effective way to investigate human trafficking is through a collaborative, multi-agency approach with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners. Accordingly, DOJ supports, leads, or participates in task forces and working groups in every state within the U.S.

  • The Enhanced Collaborative Model Human Trafficking Program is a multi-agency task force initiative funded through the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). This program supports the development and enhancement of multidisciplinary human trafficking task forces that implement collaborative approaches to combat all forms of human trafficking—sex trafficking and labor trafficking—of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens (of all sexes and ages) within the United States. Funding through this program is intended assist communities in developing effective and sustainable multidisciplinary task forces that will implement victim-centered and coordinated approaches to identifying victims of all types of human trafficking, addressing the individualized needs of victims through quality services, and investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels. These multidisciplinary task forces include members from the U.S. Attorney’s office, local prosecutor’s office, federal law enforcement, state/local law enforcement, and a community service provider,
  • FBI Human Trafficking Task Forces: The Bureau’s Human Trafficking program has established FBI-funded human trafficking task forces in multiple field offices, with the purpose of working with state and local law enforcement agencies in combating human trafficking through proactive and collaborative practices. The ultimate goal of these task forces is to recover victims and investigate traffickers at the state and federal level.
  • Child Exploitation Task Forces: Child sexual exploitation investigations—many of them undercover—are conducted in FBI field offices by Child Exploitation Task Forces (CETFs), which combine the resources of the FBI with those of other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Each of the FBI’s 56 field offices has worked investigations developed by the VCAC program, and several of our legal attaché offices have coordinated with appropriate foreign law enforcement partners on international investigations Many of these investigations are also worked in coordination with Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces, which are funded by the Department of Justice. Furthermore, training is provided to all law enforcement involved in these investigations, including federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies.
  • The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 3,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. The program helps state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children. This help encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services and community education.

Anti-Trafficking Coordination (ACTeam) Initiative

Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative is a multi-agency initiative launched in 2011 under the leadership of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

The Initiative is a collaborative effort of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Through this initiative, interagency teams of federal agents and federal prosecutors are convened in select Districts, designated through a competitive, nationwide, interagency selection process, to develop high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and international sex trafficking. ACTeams coordinate closely with each agency’s specialized anti-trafficking subject matter experts to develop and implement joint strategic enforcement plans and participate in intensive advanced human trafficking training programs. Based on the demonstrated success of the Phase I Pilot ACTeams, all ACTeam partners collaborated to convene six additional Phase II ACTeams in 2015. Phase I ACTeams operated in Atlanta; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; and Miami from 2012-2013. Phase II ACTeams began operating in Portland, Maine; Cleveland; Minneapolis; Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, California in 2016.

U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative

Mexico is the country of origin of the largest number of foreign-born human trafficking victims identified in the United States. In response to numerous U.S. federal investigations and prosecutions of trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security launched the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative in 2009 to enhance collaboration with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in order to more effectively combat transborder trafficking threats. Through this initiative, under the leadership of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, U.S. and Mexican authorities exchange leads and intelligence to strengthen investigations and prosecutions, restore victims, recover victims’ children, and dismantle trafficking networks through high-impact prosecutions in both the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to coordinating the development of bilateral investigations and prosecutions, DOJ, DHS, and their Mexican law enforcement counterparts engage in extensive exchanges of expertise and case-based mentoring to advance best practices in victim-centered enforcement strategies. The Initiative has achieved significant results:

  • U.S. federal prosecutions of over 170 defendants;

  • Mexican state and federal prosecution of over 30 associated defendants;

  • Extradition of 8 defendants from Mexico to the U.S. to face charges;

  • Rescue of over 200 victims; and

  • Recovery of over 20 victims’ children from the trafficking networks’ control

Significant recent developments have included coordinated, bilateral enforcement actions to simultaneously apprehend charged co-conspirators on both sides of the border in cases developed through this bilateral collaboration.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Announce Indictment of Seven Individuals and Six Arrests in United States and Mexico on Sex Trafficking and Related Charges

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Announces Indictment of Eight Defendants in United States and Mexico on Sex Trafficking and Related Charges

Human Trafficking Task Force e-Guide

This Guide is a resource to support established task forces and provide guidance to agencies that are forming task forces. Its purpose is to assist in the development and day to day operations of an anti-human trafficking task force and to provide fundamental guidance for effective task force operations. The Guide was developed in partnership by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Updated November 26, 2021

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