Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you for the introduction.
I am grateful for the opportunity participate in this important event. It is my distinct honor to join Commissioner Fisher, Speaker Philip Gunn, and United States Attorneys Mike Hurst and Chad Lamar in announcing the launch of the Statewide Human Trafficking Coordination Council.
I applaud your leadership in taking this decisive step to strike a blow against the scourge of human trafficking.
As you know, the fight against human trafficking is one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice and the entire administration. It has long been a cornerstone of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s efforts to protect the rights of all individuals, especially the most vulnerable among us.
In fact, seeking justice on behalf of those held in servitude has been a paramount concern of the Civil Rights Division since its founding more than 60 years ago, decades Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000.
The crimes of human trafficking and modern-day slavery involve intolerable deprivations of individual rights, freedom, and dignity. We remain steadfast in our commitment to eradicating these degrading forms of exploitation from our society.
As you know all too well, human trafficking has many faces. We often see images of young women and girls, perhaps resembling migrants from faraway lands, appearing abused and afraid, marketed as sexualized commodities.
We do, unfortunately, face pervasive threats of sex trafficking perpetrated against vulnerable young women and girls who are lured into the United States from impoverished nations, recruited on false promises of love, marriage, and a better life and then compelled into forced prostitution through violence, threats, and psychological manipulation.
We have learned from decades of working with courageous survivors that trafficking takes many forms. Traffickers target both children and adults. They prey on United States citizens as well as authorized visa-holders and undocumented migrants. And they victimize men and boys as well as women and girls.
Because trafficking is a crime of exploitation, it requires no smuggling, transportation, or movement of any kind, which means that victims can be exploited locally within their own communities—they do not even have to be brought across state lines, much less smuggled over international borders.
Vicitms are often subjected to brutal violence, though many are controlled through psychological coercion, debts, threats of deportation, or manipulation of access to addictive drugs—invisible chains that can be extremely hard to detect.
Traffickers exploit their victims for forced labor in a wide range of legitimate industries: hospitality, health care, agriculture, domestic service, nail salons, and sales crews. We see sex trafficking of both minors and adults within the commercial sex trades that take place over the internet, on street corners and at truck stops—but also at migrant labor camp brothels, in massage parlors, casinos, and cantinas.
Partnerships are critically important in our fight to eradicate all forms of human trafficking. To detect the subtle signs of these insidious forms of exploitation, we must rely on the community—faith-based organizations, health care providers, first responders, and code inspectors—to be our eyes and ears. To earn the trust of traumatized survivors who are often too afraid to come forward, we work with non-governmental organizations with expertise in victim-centered, trauma-informed strategies for stabilizing victims, earning their trust, and confiding in authorities. And to dismantle complex trafficking enterprises that often extend across several jurisdictions, we often rely on a broad-based team of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, sometimes working in multiple Districts, each bringing specialized expertise in the range of criminal conduct associated with the trafficking scheme—which can include money laundering, racketeering, wire fraud, narcotics distribution, alien smuggling, child pornography, extortion, and numerous other related violations.
That’s why broad-based, multi-disciplinary partnerships have proven to be a cornerstone of our success in the fight against human trafficking.
And that’s why I applaud the leadership of these two outstanding United States Attorneys in launching this statewide Human Trafficking Coordination Council. The Civil Rights Division commends the momentum you are generating with the decisive actions you have taken to face these challenges head-on.
Anti-trafficking experts from the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit have worked with some key members of your team here in Mississippi over the past week, and we are excited about the progress we are seeing as a result of this promising partnership that has been developing in recent months.
Your leadership and commitment place you at the forefront of our nation’s longstanding fight to eradicate all forms of human trafficking, modern-day slavery, and involuntary servitude.
The Civil Rights Division and its Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prepared to stand with you every step of the way. We are proud to join you in announcing the launch of the statewide Human Trafficking Coordination Council and we are honored to partner with you in facing the many challenges that lie ahead in bringing traffickers to justice and restoring the rights and freedom of trafficking victims.