Human trafficking is an insidious but underreported crime. It is often hard to detect and exploits the most vulnerable in our society. Preventing and punishing human trafficking is one of the key priorities of the United States Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice.
Among the tools used by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California is the now-annual
Northern District of California Human Trafficking Task Forces Executives' Session.
The Executives' Session is a large-scale summit to discuss human trafficking. The aim of the Executives' Session is to gather victims, service providers, law enforcement officers and community leaders to better understand how the fight against human trafficking can be most effectively waged. As with the first two conferences held February 26, 2013, and January 13, 2014, the February 11, 2015, Executives' Session was held at the Open Square, Futures Without Violence in the Presidio of San Francisco.
The 2013 Executives' Session
After opening remarks from US Attorney Melinda Haag; Esta Soler (President and Founder of Futures Without Violence); Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley; Nick Sensley (anti-trafficking strategist); and Senior USDOJ Civil Rights Trial Attorney Daniel Weiss, a presentation was made by Commander Ryan Stonebraker, of the California State Threat Assessment Center. Commander Stonebraker presented the overall picture in the State of California and discussed ways of improving the reporting and tracking of all human trafficking cases including those charged under other statutes.
A Technology and Trafficking Panel included presentations from Frederic Wolens (Associate Manager Policy Communications, Facebook), Mark Latonero (Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy) and Courtney Bowman (Civil Liberties Engineer, Palantir). The panelists provided insight into new efforts to identify human trafficking and victims of trafficking through social media, technology and mobile devices.
Additional panels discussed ways to forge strong partnerships and strategies to advance the anti-trafficking response.
The 2014 Executives' Session
The 2014 Executive Session brought together a Task Force of executives including the United States Attorney, the sheriffs of numerous counties and the district attorneys of several counties.
The conference began with a panel discussion on the federal law enforcement assets available to combat human trafficking. The panel included the following persons:
United States Marshal Don O’Keefe who presented information on how the U.S. Marshals Service may assist in apprehending fugitives and non-complaint sex offenders.
David J. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation San Francisco Field Office who discussed the specialized assests available through agents and equipment engaged in SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), ERT (Evidence Response Team), and crisis negotiation. In addition, SAC Johnson discussed additional aviation assets and technical assistance that could be bought to bear in the appropriate cases.
Joseph Riehl, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tocacco, Firearms and Explosives San Francisco Field Division who discussed the violations of firearms and explosives laws that often accompany human trafficking crimes.
Bruce Balzano, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration San Francisco Field Office who discussed the work of the DEA and the capabilities of the agency.
Mike Sena, Director of the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center who discussed the capabilities of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and the NCRIC.
Tatum King, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Homeland Security who discussed the capabilities of the agency and work it was performing in the region.
Carleen Fischer, Special Agent in Charge, District IX of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Craig James, Special Agent in the Drug Enforcement Unit, Office of Justice Services who discussed the specialized issues that arise within their jurisdiction.
The afternoon included series of presentations regarding the assistance available and means of coordinating efforts from various levels of government. From the State of California, Olin Jones, Director of the Office of Native American Affairs presented a segment on state assistance to law enforcement efforts. Mike Downey, Sheriff of Humbolt County, led a discussion about regional coordination efforts, and Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos provided a presentation on local district attorney assistance to local law enforcement and interfacing with federal law enforcement and U.S. Attorney's offices.
The 2015 Executives' Session
The 2015 conference began with updates by Brad Myles, Executive Director of Polaris, a national human trafficking hotline and Mandy Johnson an intelligence analyst with the California State Threat Assessment Center. The update included a presentation of the overall picture in the State of California and included a discussion of ways of improving the reporting and tracking of all human trafficking cases, including those charged under other statutes.
In the afternoon, law enforcement had an opportunity to work collaboratively with experts to harness the power of technology to thwart the efforts of traffickers. The panelists included:
Mike Sena, Executive Director, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)
Brooke Istook, Director of Strategy and Operations, Thorn
Peter Austin, Palantir Technologies
Mark Latonero, Research Director, Annenberg Center, USC/Fellow, Data and Society Research Institute
Todd Huffman, Vice President, IST Research
Justin Dillon, Chief Executive Officer, Made in a Free World
The afternoon session featured a panel discussion on bringing the region together to address issues raised by the 2016 Superbowl in the Northern District of California. The panel consisted of:
Dr. Emily Murase, Ph.D., San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking
Sharan Dhanoa, South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking
Jason Trimiew, Vice President of Community Relations, San Francisco Super Bowl Organizing Committee
Bob Moser, Commander, San Francisco Police Department
Phil Cooke, Captain, Santa Clara Police Department
Phan Ngo, Deputy Chief, San Jose Police Department
Doug Hunt, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI
Tatum King, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, HSI
Brian Stretch, First Assistant United States Attorney
Kevin Carroll, Executive Director, San Francisco Hotel Council
Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County District Attorney
Experts from throughout the Northern District of California shared ideas on how every level of government can better coordinate individual prevention and enforcement activities. Additional seminars focused on the role technology can play in efforts to combat human trafficking and on the special issues raised by hosting the Super Bowl in 2016.