Justice Department: Record number of human-trafficking cases in 2011

The Justice Department initiated more than 120 cases against human traffickers during 2011 — a record number — in what Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday was a part of the department’s commitment to preventing human trafficking, bringing traffickers to justice and assisting their victims.

Mr. Holder, speaking at a Washington meeting of President Obama’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said the commitment has “never been stronger — and our approach has never been more effective.”

“Our work has sent a clear and critical message: that, in this country — and under this administration — human-trafficking crimes will not be tolerated,” he said. “This work has saved lives, ensured freedom and restored dignity to women, men and children in virtually every corner of the country. We’ve liberated scores of victims; secured long prison sentences against individual traffickers; and dismantled large, transnational organized criminal enterprises.”

Mr. Holder said that over the past three years, the department had achieved “significant increases in human-trafficking prosecutions,” including a rise of more than 30 percent in the number of forced-labor and adult sex-trafficking prosecutions.

In February 2011, the Justice Department began a Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative to take its counter-trafficking enforcement efforts to a new level. As part of that effort, Mr. Holder announced the creation of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative, an interagency collaboration among the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor aimed at streamlining federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human-trafficking offenses.

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