Attorney General Eric Holder told a Little Rock crowd Tuesday night, he will designate an employee to oversee the Justice Department’s prosecution efforts for human trafficking crimes.
The attorney general told the crowd of 1,100, his department and the President’s administration are taking a zero tolerance, one strike approach to human trafficking violations. He says over the past three years there has been a 30 percent increase in human trafficking prosecutions and a record 120 defendants were charged this past year in US courts. Many of the prosecutions he says are a result of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division but have also come from heightened collaboration between other divisions of the department as well as with the FBI and US Attorneys’ offices.
“Because it is not uncommon for traffickers to be involved in a variety of other criminal enterprises such as the trafficking of drugs or fire arms and financial laundering schemes, we’re taking steps to ensure investigators and prosecutors who work on organized crime and financial crime cases are fully trained to identify human crime and human trafficking victims,” Holder said.
Holder stressed that human trafficking is a thriving economy for criminals within the borders of the United States as well as throughout the world.
“Human trafficking victims are often hiding in plain sight: the young woman who traveled to America for the promise of a new life but finds herself enslaved and sold for sex; the child who is born here but ran away from home and in desperation accepted help from the wrong person; the migrant worker who is deprived of identification, transportation, healthcare and access to money in order to ensure complete dependence on his employer; or one of the many young girls, regularly shuttled to truck stops along I-40, filled with shame and empty of hope, living in fear of incarceration and in doubt of her ability to survive on her own,” Holder said.
Holder says the employee who will now oversee human trafficking justice programs will increase the success of their efforts.
“This step will allow the department to continue to break new ground and to more quickly develop and implement the most effective possible approaches for meeting our shared public safety goals and our moral obligation of preventing human trafficking, protecting victims across the country, punishing perpetrators and empowering victims to move forward as survivors,” Holder said.
Holder expressed appreciation for the progress Arkansas law enforcement officials have made with their collaborations and aggressive enforcement of human trafficking laws. The attorney general also singled out Little Rock organizations, Safe Places and Partners Against Trafficking Humans, as exemplary for their work serving trafficking victims.