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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In recognition of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose highlighted the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to combat human trafficking and to raise awareness through community outreach, training and federal prosecutions.
“Human trafficking is one of the most inhumane and depraved crimes that can be inflicted upon a person. Whether subjected to forced labor or forced to engage in commercial sex, trafficked victims are reduced to a status less than human, their worth measured by how profitable they are to their traffickers. In the Western District, our federal prosecutions have resulted in lengthy prison sentences for perpetrators brought to justice. But we must do more. Traffickers pray upon the most vulnerable members of our society, looking to benefit from their exploitation. There isn’t a state, city, town or community shielded from human trafficking and its devastating impact. As part of our anti-trafficking strategy, we have focused on forging strong partnerships throughout the district, and we are working with community organizations and our law enforcement partners to raise awareness and to educate the public about the epidemic of human trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.
In 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office partnered with the Charlotte Metropolitan Human Trafficking Task Force and federal, state, and local agencies and law enforcement to provide training on human trafficking and victim identification to professionals whose work may bring them in contact with victims of trafficking. This included emergency room physicians and nurses, hospitality industry employees, public defenders, youth and family services case workers with the Department of Social Services, and members of multiple faith-based organizations and community groups. Though tailored to address each group’s specific needs, the goal of the training was to enhance participants’ understanding of human trafficking, to educate them on recognizing the indicators, or “tell-tale signs,” of trafficking victims, to familiarize them with accessing services available to rescued victims, and to highlight best practices for reporting trafficking activity and supporting law enforcement in combating human trafficking.
In 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s anti-trafficking efforts also resulted in significant prosecutions. In February 2016, Martin Allen Meggett was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty for the sex trafficking of a minor. In April 2016, a federal jury convicted Kenwaniee Vontorian Tate for the sex trafficking of a minor. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for January 25, 2017. And, in May 2016, Shahid Hassan Muslim was sentenced to life in prison for operating an extensive sex trafficking enterprise that recruited women and underage girls into prostitution.
“While our successes are many and notable our work against human trafficking continues,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.
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If you believe you are the victim of a trafficking situation or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. You can also submit a tip to the NHTRC online.
You can also contact ICE-Homeland Security Investigations at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or the Charlotte Office of the FBI at 704-672-6100.