New Hampshire To Receive Federal Grant Money To Combat Human Trafficking
CONCORD, N.H.: Today, United States Attorney Emily Gray Rice confirmed the formation of a Human Trafficking Task Force, which will receive federal grant funding to combat human trafficking in the state of New Hampshire. The grant funding is part of a nationwide effort by the Department of Justice to fight the mounting threat posed by human traffickers, who prey upon the most vulnerable of victims to support their criminal schemes. In total, DOJ has awarded more than $49 million to 25 states with the goal of providing comprehensive and specialized services for human trafficking victims, investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases, and supporting research designed to improve understanding of the nature of human trafficking crimes and develop best practices to prevent and respond to such crimes.
Since 2013, there have been at least 23 recorded investigations involving forced labor or sex trafficking in New Hampshire, resulting in several prosecutions and convictions. That number – which continues to grow – is fueled in part by the influx of opioids into the state. Victims of the sex trafficking trade are often addicted to opiates or other drugs. They are sometimes forced or coerced into sexual servitude based, in part, on their fear of losing a steady supply of drugs and the prospect of experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of that lost drug supply.
In May 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Manchester Police Department, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations), and Give Way to Freedom submitted a joint Letter of Intent to the Department of Justice, seeking grant money to support the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Task Force, whose members have pledged their continued partnership to implement a coordinated, collaborative, victim-centered and trauma-informed multi-disciplinary response to human trafficking in New Hampshire by (1) identifying victims of all forms of human trafficking and addressing individualized service needs of those victims, and (2) investigating and prosecuting all human trafficking offenses within the boundaries of New Hampshire. The grant was approved in late September. However, additional steps must be undertaken before the funds are disbursed.
U.S. Attorney Rice praised the tremendous work done by those who prepared and obtained the grant, including the submission’s primary author, Erin Albright of Give Way to Freedom, and discussed the project’s importance in tackling this growing threat: “Human trafficking is often associated with larger metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston – but it happens in New Hampshire, and with increasing frequency,” Rice stated. “Human trafficking is a heinous crime that preys on the most defenseless victims, many of whom are minors or individuals with severe substance abuse issues. With the assistance of this grant funding, our prosecutors are committed to collaborating with our law enforcement partners and incredible NGOs to provide services for human trafficking victims, and hold accountable those who are profiting from these terrible crimes.” U.S. Attorney Rice further noted that additional details will be released in December, when the project is officially launched.
Other members of the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Task Force include: the New Hampshire Department of Justice; the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office; the Police Departments of Nashua, Portsmouth, Hampton, and Salem; the New Hampshire State Police; the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Office; the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage, and Hour Division; the U.S. Department of Labor (Office of the Solicitor); the Department of Children, Youth, and Families; the Granite State Children’s Alliance; the Merrimack County Advocacy Center; the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire; the YWCA of Manchester, New Hampshire; the International Institute of New England; the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; New Hampshire Legal Assistance; Plymouth State University; the New Hampshire Restaurant and Lodging Association; the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire; Real Life Giving; and Freedom Café.
For further information about the Department of Justice’s nationwide initiative to combat human trafficking, please go to https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-awards-more-49-million-combat-human-trafficking.