Unless you have attention focused on it, a lot gets overlooked. It will get overlooked all too often as a crime problem [ie, prostitution]. You may see it in other facets, where a gang investigation, for example, has a human trafficking element. Gang members can make a lot of money engaging in trafficking. They can prostitute women against their will and earn a lot of very quick money. They need money, and they need people. One way to get money very quickly is to traffic young girls in the commercial sex trade and earn a lot of money really fast.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 37 – No 03 – March 2018
Human trafficking can cross over into immigration issues if we see victims coming in from outside the United States and they are held in some type of labor situation [ie, agriculture, landscaping, hair or nail salons, massage parlors, or working as a domestic servant for a family]. We see them all over our communities, but if we don’t know the size of trafficking we’re not going to know what we’re looking at. Another thing that law enforcement and the FBI try to do is bring attention to the problem. We want to bring attention to the issue so people know what they’re looking at and then know what to do about it so that victim can be recovered and rescued and hopefully can be put back on a path to survival.
Although the exact numbers are hard to track, with underreporting by some and overreporting by others, any student of history in the United States or anyone with a social justice conscience would say it’s one victim too many. How dare the United States outlaw slavery and still be perpetuating the slave industry, which is what we’re doing. If you have employers, whether it’s a pimp or a landscaping company who are forcing an individual to work, that’s slavery.
KK: How challenging can it be to identify and help a trafficking victim?
CD: There have been dozens trafficking victims that I would be the first one to say, “The situation in which I have found you, I swear you are a victim of trafficking.” Even though I say that and write that down in a report somewhere, that victim might tell me to go pound sand. She might tell me to go away. She’s going to tell me she doesn’t want to talk to me and she’s going to leave. I have no legal authority to hold her or to force her to self-identify. If she’s done nothing wrong, and I can’t hold her as a perpetrator of a crime or because she has an outstanding warrant, there’s no legal way to hold her.