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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Friday, January 23, 2015

From United States Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns     
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:           (716) 551-3051

Over 150 years ago this month, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery.  Sadly, however, the pernicious practice continues.  In the past year alone, our Offices have prosecuted twenty persons for engaging in human trafficking - modern day slavery.

Directed at those whose acts span from forcing children into prostitution to coercing undocumented aliens to work long hours in a wide variety of legal and illegal industries, the federal statute protects against a wide array of exploitation directed at society’s most vulnerable.  Statistics tell us that millions are enslaved world-wide, and that in the United States alone, over 250 children are taken each and every day by criminals who seek to exploit them.    

January has been declared Human Trafficking Awareness Month because the crime is so pervasive, and the damage to victims so vicious.  It provides the opportunity to dispel myths, including that children/victims are runaways.  In fact, our experiences suggest that those victimized are not merely the troubled but the child next door.  Lured by predators through drugs, threats of violence, or even the cell phone that virtually all carry, no child is immune from being targeted by these predators.

The best protection lies in recognizing the scope of the problem.  Children and parents should also remember common sense tips – all of which begin with “T”:

Young people, watch your TECHNOLOGY, including internet-connected phones, computers, on-line games and social media sites.  The THREAT does not come solely from men, women also are predators and lookouts for victims.  Watch your TALK, as strangers look and listen for vulnerable children.  TRUST your gut, and always TURN to parents, counsellors and loved ones at any sign of danger.

For parents, recognize the THREAT, TALK to your child, and be aware that traffickers most often TARGET the young, lonely, alienated or those who have no one to protect them.

Our Offices have many other helpful tips.  Rest assured that with your help we will continue aggressively to prosecute modern day slavers so that we will not have to look to a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate this type of involuntary servitude.

Updated January 26, 2015