Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces Justice Department Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking
Contact: Julia M. Lipez
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257
Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced the selection of the District of Maine as one of only six federal Districts designated to participate in the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative, an interagency federal law enforcement initiative aimed at streamlining the investigation and prosecution of federal human trafficking offenses.
“Maine is a relatively small and rural state, but it is not immune from human trafficking issues,” said U.S. Attorney Delahanty. “They are a priority for our office and the District of Maine.” The ACTeam will consist of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“HSI”), the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division and Office of the Inspector General and two Assistant United States Attorneys (“AUSA”), one of whom will be Human Trafficking Coordinator, Julia M. Lipez. In 2014, HSI formed the Human Trafficking Task Force (“HTTF”) in Maine which consists of agents from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The ACTeam will enhance the efforts of the HTTF in Maine.
U.S. Attorney Delahanty’s announcement follows the joint announcement of Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez yesterday designating the following cities as Phase II ACTeam sites: Cleveland, Ohio; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Maine; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, California. The sites were selected by unanimous interagency consensus of the Federal Enforcement Working Group, comprised of national anti-trafficking experts of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, the FBI, HSI, and DOL’s
Wage and Hour Division and Office of the Inspector General.
ACTeams are aimed at developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, and coercion, complementing Project Safe Childhood and related efforts aimed at combating child sexual exploitation, including child sex trafficking. ACTeams bring together federal prosecutors and federal agents from multiple federal investigative agencies to develop and implement proactive anti-trafficking case identification, investigation, and prosecution strategies in close coordination with one another and with national anti-trafficking subject matter experts.
During Phase I of the ACTeam Initiative, Phase I Pilot ACTeams were convened in Atlanta, Georgia; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; Memphis, Tennessee; and Miami, Florida. Phase I proved highly successful, with ACTeam Districts collectively increasing prosecutions by 119%, compared to 35% nationwide during the same two-year period.
Based on the outstanding results of Phase I, Attorney General Lynch, Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson, and Secretary of Labor Perez launched Phase II on June 25, 2015 by soliciting joint applications from United States Attorneys’ Offices and their federal law enforcement partners nationwide.
“Human trafficking robs victims of their liberty, exploits them for labor and for sex, and infringes not only on their rights, but on their essential humanity,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “Through the ACTeam Initiative, we are harnessing resources across the federal government to ensure that our multi-agency fight against human trafficking is as comprehensive and effective as possible. In the days and months ahead, the DOJ will continue to work alongside our federal partners to prosecute wrongdoing, support survivors, and bring this devastating crime to an end.”
“The ACTeam Initiative is an important tool in our collective ability to combat sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude here in the United States,” said Secretary Jeh C. Johnson of Homeland Security. “It highlights our commitment to increase capacity to rescue victims and bring perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice. Our collective efforts are amplified when we work together in furtherance of shared missions like this. And, through DHS’s Blue Campaign, we will remain focused on ending human trafficking in the United States.”
“A trafficking victim shouldn’t have to spend time trying to determine whether they have a DOL issue or a DOJ issue,” said Secretary Thomas Perez of the DOL. “Their basic rights are being violated, and we can accomplish so much more to redress those crimes when we work together. The Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative, by bringing our respective departments’ collective resources and expertise to bear, is helping us build a whole even greater than the sum of our individual parts.”
“Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery that destroys lives and exploits the most vulnerable in our society,” said Director James B. Comey of the FBI. “These ACTeams are the most effective way to investigate human trafficking by allowing us to work in a collaborative, victim-oriented manner.”
The Attorney General has declared efforts to bring human traffickers to justice and to restore the lives of human trafficking survivors be among the highest priorities of the DOJ.