New York’s trafficking law evolving

In 2007, New York legislators approved one of the more expansive sex trafficking laws in the country — a law that, outside of New York City, has rarely been used.

Through late March there had been 145 sex trafficking arrests in New York under the bill signed into law in 2007 — and all but 13 were in New York City.

That means 91 percent of the arrests occurred in New York City, and only one person has been convicted for sex trafficking outside of the city.

Experts say there are multiple reasons why the law has so rarely been wielded: It is still a relatively new tool; many cases end up in federal court; and trafficking investigations can be difficult to build, especially because of reluctant victims.

“I think it’s a really slow process, but I do think we’re moving in the right direction,” said Lauren Hersh, a Brooklyn assistant district attorney who has been one of the state’s leaders in sex trafficking prosecutions.

Westchester Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, one of the anti-trafficking leaders in the Legislature, said the law may still be too new to critique for effectiveness.

“It’s relatively new,” she said. “The crimes of murder and robbery have been around a long time.”

But, some say, the biggest impediment to toughened anti-trafficking law enforcement may be the long-held belief that a prostitute is, first and foremost, a criminal.

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40000 Bihar children missing, says Amod Kanth

The magnitude of human trafficking in Bihar is alarming as about 35,000 to 40,000 children from the state were missing and nobody knew about their whereabouts, said former Delhi police commissioner Amod Kanth. There was no human development indicator in Bihar, resulting in the frequent use of child labour and violation of law dealing with it, he said.

Speaking on the first day of the three-day seminar on ‘Training of Master trainers: To combat human trafficking’, organized jointly by the crime investigation department (CID) of Bihar police and Save The Children, a civil society organization, here on Monday, Kanth stressed the need to redefine human trafficking as the present definition did not deal with the issue in its entirety. The Central government was working on a new manual to make it clear, he said, adding that the Immoral Trafficking Act discussed only about commercialization of sex and the Juvenile Justice Act talked only about children between 6 and 8 years of age.

Throwing light on the complexity of the issue, Kanth said human trafficking was related not only to prostitution but also with forced marriage, child sex and organ transplant. He said the present definition was itself so complex that it was creating problem in tackling the real issue.

Addressing the inaugural function, DGP Abhayanand said human trafficking was the worst form of rights violation and reiterated the Bihar police commitment to eliminate this evil from the state.

The DGP asked police officials to behave properly with victims of human trafficking, be alert about any information in this regard and take cognisance on priority basis.

Speaking on ‘Coordination: Police, community and civil society organization’, member of Bihar Public Service Commission and retired IPS officer, Rajyabardhan Sharma, said the local police should take the media help in busting the gangs involved in human trafficking. He, however, felt the media was not giving proper space to such serious issues.

State programme coordinator of Save the Children, Nitu Prasad, said the victims needed support as kids took to crime because of lack of awareness about law.

ADG (CID) A S Nimbran, IG Arbind Pandey and DIG Kamal Kishore were also present on the occasion.

Twin Cities sex trafficking defendants face trial

Several mugshots from arrests of an alleged multi-state prostitution ring.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jury selection began Tuesday in Nashville in the case of an alleged sex-trafficking ring with strong ties to the Twin Cities.

Fifteen defendants are facing federal trial. Back in November 2010, federal prosecutors in Tennessee indicted 29 people on charges of running a child-prostitution ring.

Most of the defendants are from Minnesota. Authorities say the trafficking operation was controlled by three Twin Cities gangs: the Somali Outlaws, the Somalia Mafia, and the Lady Outlaws. A 30th defendant was added to the case last year.

So far, not a single defendant has pleaded guilty.

The sheer scope of the case is unusual and the trial could last two to three months. The remaining 15 defendants will be tried later.

The government says the gangs recruited Twin Cities girls to have sex in exchange for cash, marijuana and booze, and that the victims were as young as 12. But at least one defense attorney is challenging the age of one victim, saying her birth certificate was forged and that there is no true record of her birth.

China says it freed 24,000 abducted children, women in 2011

China said it rescued more than 24,000 abducted children and women last year, some of them sold for adoption or forced into prostitution as far away as Angola.

The Ministry of Public Security said that another 77 children were saved in a bust on a cross-province human trafficking network last week.

In all, police rescued 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in busts of 3,195 human trafficking gangs during 2011, the ministry told the annual parliament, the National People’s Congress, according to the Irish Times.

According to Agence France-Presse, the trafficking of boy children is a particularly serious problem in China — blamed in part on the strict “one-child” policy. Couples unable to conceive a son, or male heir, can simply obtain one.

CNN, citing Global Times, a state-run newspaper, quoted Chen Qingwei, a police officer who helped crack down an infant trafficking case in Shandong, as saying that couples who sold their babies were mainly from poverty-stricken areas.

“A boy could fetch a price as high as 50,000 yuan ($7,905),” Chen reportedly said, “with the price for girls at about 30,000 yuan ($4,743). This is far more than what parents could make by farming the land.”

Girls, meantime, were sold to foreign adoptive parents as “orphans,” CNN reported, citing the Southern Metropolis News.

Vietnamese gangs were also smuggling children from Vietnam into China, the Times wrote.

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Super Bowl 2012: Volunteers played ‘key role’ in deterring human sex trafficking

Volunteers intent on preventing human sex trafficking during Super Bowl week played a key role in finding victims and deterring traffickers, said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Law enforcement made 68 commercial-sex arrests and recovered two human trafficking victims, Zoeller said Friday. Two other potential human trafficking victims were identified and are part of an ongoing investigation.

Nearly 3,400 Hoosiers, including hotel workers, cabdrivers and others, were trained by authorities to know how to detect potential trafficking incidents. A total of 11,000 awareness cards were distributed with a hotline number for people to call for help.

The post-game review makes it clear that Indiana did its part to send a message to victims, sex buyers and traffickers, Zoeller said. He added that was possible due to “an extraordinary effort” by a large number of volunteers giving training presentations and outreach efforts to educate the public.

“Perhaps the best news is that the national nonprofits and law enforcement informed us that all . . . (the) efforts and publicity worked toward prevention,” Zoeller said.

The Indiana Prevention of Abused and Trafficked Humans task force, co-chaired by Zoeller, conducted 60 presentations and trained nearly 3,400 people prior to the Super Bowl.

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McPhedran: The people smuggling dilemma

IMAGINE you are a poor fisherman living in a village on the coast of Java earning maybe $50 a month.

Someone offers you $5000 on behalf of a third party to crew a crowded and barely seaworthy vessel to Christmas Island.

That is almost 10 years’ pay and even if you get three years in an Australian jail you will be well in front upon your return home.

And life in an Australian prison offers more luxuries – such as TV and internet access – than you could ever afford back in the village.

Fast forward to the Federal Court in Sydney this week, where two poor Indonesian fishermen, Kama Bin Jafarudin and Umar Bin Basir, are on trial for smuggling 71 people into Australia on a tiny wooden boat that was so small the passengers couldn’t even get to the sides to go to the toilet.

 The only food on board was bread, water and a few nuts. There were no life vests or life boats.

Each passenger on board had paid about $15,000 to a people smuggler in Indonesia for their 48-hour trip to the land of milk and honey.

That is $1.065 million for a single voyage on a boat worth a few hundred dollars with a crew paid $10,000.

Even after expenses, which would include payments to corrupt Indonesian officials, the profits are enormous.

The two poor Indonesian fishermen told authorities that they had been fishing off the coast of Java when they became lost and somehow ended up 3km off Christmas Island, where a Navy patrol boat picked them up.

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In Lagos, Nigeria, marginalized children face exploitation, trafficking and abuse

Sex and drugs are readily available on Kuramo Beach, a stretch of sand along the Gulf of Guinea. Children play in the sand, not far from sex workers. Nearby, tough young men known as ‘area boys’ sit under battered beach umbrellas.

It is also home to children living and working on the streets of Lagos.

Deprived of opportunities, Lagos, a chaotic and polluted mega-city built on swamps and reclaimed lagoons, is an economic draw for all of West Africa. UN agencies estimate that 10.2 million people live in the city, and 49 per cent of the country’s population is under age 18. This means a staggering number of children live in the dense metropolitan area.

Though the city presents a variety of opportunities, many children do not benefit from them. Some live in slums, others are victims of trafficking. Still others have been forced onto the streets by abuse or poverty. These marginalized children are vulnerable to exploitation, violence, drug use and recruitment into gangs.

“More and more children are running away,” said Ngozi Ekwerike-Okora, a coordinator with Child-to-Child Network and the Lagos State Child Protection Network.

“Many come from broken homes, which makes them vulnerable to peers who recruit them in their villages and sell them to be trained as pickpockets,” she said, describing rural children brought to Lagos by traffickers and sold to the ‘area boys’, who employ them as petty thieves and take their earnings.

 

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Prostitution sting nets 21 in North County

A prostitution sting in Escondido, Vista and Oceanside led to 21 arrests Saturday, sheriff’s officials said.

The operation was conducted by the North County Regional Prostitution/Human Trafficking Task Force in conjunction with Oceanside and Escondido police, sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Mata said. The exact time and locations of the sting were not disclosed.

Officers placed ads on Craigslist or other websites offering sex for sale and arrested those who responded, Mata said.

Nineteen men were taken into custody for solicitation of prostitution and one for loitering for prostitution, he said. A woman who propositioned an undercover officer was arrested on suspicion of offering sex for money, Mata said.

In Vista, six men between the ages of 31 and 58 were arrested. One, a 48-year-old man, was also charged with possession of a controlled substance after he offered to pay for sex with methamphetamine, Mata said. A 58-year-old man also was charged with possession of a controlled substance and sexual battery when he grabbed an undercover officer, and a 50-year-old man who put his hands on another officer was booked on additional battery charges, Mata said.

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Alabama Woman Facing Human Trafficking Charges [Florida]

TAMPA – A Saturday afternoon traffic stop led to the arrest of two Alabama women on a variety of charges including human trafficking.

Kathleen Roberson and Jessica Roland were transported to the Hillsborough County Jail.

According to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office report Roberson, 21, was driving a 2003 Kia Sorrento near the intersection of South Falkenberg Rd. and Progress Blvd. at approximately 5:15 pm when a deputy noticed the vehicle did not have a tag.

The deputy pulled the vehicle over and found that Roberson did not have a valid driver’s license. She was also carrying $6,000 in cash. Roland, 29, was found to be in possession of a small amount of cocaine.

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Human Trafficking: A Growing Crime in the U.S.

 

DETROIT — A University of Michigan janitor. A Ukrainian nightclub owner. A Detroit man nicknamed “Gruesome.”

The three men, authorities say, are all tied to a growing crime: human trafficking.

According to the U.S. Department of Justive, human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry — just behind drug trafficking — with children accounting for roughly half of all victims. Of the 2,515 cases under investigation in the U.S. in 2010, more than 1,000 involved children.

And those are only the ones we know of. Too often, authorities say, victims stay silent out of fear, so no one knows they exist.

That’s why President Obama declared January National Human Trafficking Awareness month.

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