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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Middle District of Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force Meeting Held Today at 10:00 AM

Montgomery, Alabama - United States Attorney George L. Beck, Jr., joined with members of the Middle District of Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, which was formerly known as the “Central Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force,” on today. The Middle District of Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force (hereinafter “Task Force”) met to discuss its plans to revitalize the Task Force and increase law enforcement participation. The purpose of the meeting is to unite federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, prosecutors and victim service providers to discuss investigation strategies and victim resources, and to implement a district-wide protocol in an effort to combat human trafficking.

Human trafficking is recognized as “a modern-day form of slavery” and “is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Human trafficking often takes one of two forms – labor or sex trafficking. Labor trafficking may include forced labor or debt bondage, where a victim continually works to pay off an undefined and seemingly endless debt. Sex trafficking includes forcing victims to perform sexual acts, performances, or prostitution, or subjecting them to sexual abuse or torture. Victims may be subject to inhumane conditions and may be afraid to seek help due to language barriers, immigration status, or fear of the trafficker. Both Federal and Alabama law criminalize human trafficking, with penalties including significant prison time, large fines, and mandatory restitution.

Effective January 1, 2013, Alabama law requires certain establishments to display the National Human Trafficking Resource Center toll-free hotline number, 1-888-373-7888. The hotline provides information on human trafficking and resources for victims in 170 languages. Establishments required to post this information include hotels and massage parlors that have been cited as nuisances, airports, bus and train stations, and establishments offering stripteasing or topless entertaining.

“Victims of human trafficking hide in fright in our own backyard often in nightmare conditions and forced prostitution,” stated George L. Beck, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. “Make no mistake, human trafficking is enslaving our fellow Americans, many of whom are children of broken homes or runaways, targeted to serve in the commercial sex trade. This office will prosecute traffickers and protect victims. I encourage everyone to visit DOJ’s website at www.ovc.ncjrs.gov or the HHS website at www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking to learn more about human trafficking. Let’s work together to fight and prevent this evil criminal conduct.”

“The FBI is committed to bringing to justice those individuals who are responsible for the heinous crime of human trafficking,” stated Jeannette L. Williams, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Mobile. “Together with our partner law enforcement agencies, and with the assistance of the community, we will continue to pursue those who rob the innocent of their freedom.”

“Homeland Security Investigations investigates and seeks prosecution of human trafficking as one of its highest priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. “The results speak for themselves; in FY13 HSI set a record number of criminal arrests resulting from human trafficking investigations – up 91 percent over FY12 and more than 543 percent over FY10. HSI utilizes all of its resources via a coordinated global effort to dismantle the criminal infrastructure engaged in human trafficking, and HSI is fully committed to victim-centered investigations in which the identification, rescue and needs of victims are treated with equal weight as the prosecution of traffickers.” Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility to include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to combat human trafficking in our state,” said Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier. "By utilizing our Fusion Center as a central hub for helping gather, analyze, and share information, our intel analyst will provide real-time mission critical information to the agencies involved in this multi-jurisdictional effort."

The mission of the Task Force is “To Find and Free” victims of human trafficking. The Task Force began its work in 2009, initiated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, and thereafter partnered with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

The Task Force consists of federal, state, and local partners within the River Region and from the 23 counties which comprise the Middle District of Alabama. In addition to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the Task Force partners include: the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Homeland Security Investigations of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the Alabama Fusion Center (which is a division of ALEA), the Montgomery Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, One Place Family Justice Center, Legal Services Alabama, the Family Sunshine Center, the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Stella’s Voice, SABRA Sanctuary of Selma, the Alabama Department of Youth Services, the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, the Alabama Department of Education, survivors of human trafficking, college students, and local college chapters of International Justice Mission.

For more information, please contact Assistant United States Attorney Jerusha T. Adams at 334-223-7280 or Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Carrie G. Shaw at 334-262-7378.

PRESS CONTACT: Clark Morris
Email: usaalm.press@usdoj.gov
Telephone: (334) 551-1755
Fax: (334) 223-7617

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Updated March 16, 2015