The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri launched the Human Trafficking Rescue Project (HTRP) in 2006 to combat human trafficking. The federal task force is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The task force has also partnered with non-government organizations to provide necessary services for victims of human trafficking. HTRP has become one of the most successful human trafficking task forces in the country. The investigation and prosecution of human trafficking has been and continues to be a top priority at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri.
HTRP has investigated both commercial sex trafficking and forced labor violations. While the prosecutions have resulted in array of charges, they are predominately prosecuted under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The cases have involved the rescue of international and domestic victims.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri continues to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was one of the first to utilize the TVPA to address the demand side of human trafficking by also prosecuting the customers of sex trafficking victims. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also broke new ground by being the first to prosecute a parent for trafficking their own child; to charge the act of advertising trafficking victims online; and to utilize the TVPA to prosecute intra-state sex trafficking of children. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was also the first to combine the TVPA with the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and to utilize the newly enacted fraud in foreign labor contracting statute to charge an international trafficking enterprise.
HTRP embodies the Justice Department’s victim-centered approach because it is specifically engineered to aid in identifying victims, providing them with immediate protection and support, and then working with them to further investigate and prosecute the traffickers.
The law enforcement arm of the task force consists of several primary investigatory agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation; Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department; and the Independence, Missouri Police Department.
The victim services arm of the task force is the Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CAHT). CAHT consists of numerous non-government organizations which collaborate with HTRP to provide necessary services for the victims of trafficking.
HTRP is led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Connelly.
If you have a tip regarding possible human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1-888-373-7888.