Friday, April 24, 2015

Modern-Day Slavery: Discussing The Heinous Crime Of Human Trafficking With Homeland Security Investigators

I spent the morning discussing human trafficking with the Homeland Security investigators responsible for combating this heinous crime for a piece that will appear in Counterterrorism magazine.

Meeting at the Philadelphia offices of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an organizational element of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I learned a good deal about the victims and the criminals involved in human trafficking.

I spoke with William S. Walker, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, David M. Hepler, an HSI Supervisory Special Agent, and Public Affairs Officer Sarah Maxwell.

Human trafficking is described by HSI as one of the most heinous crimes they investigate.

According to HSI, human trafficking is akin to modern-day slavery. Victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the thrall of traffickers. They are forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude to repay debts. In certain cases, the victims are mere children. They find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

HSI says that "Trafficking in Persons" is defined as sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

ICE has a Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or you can offer a tip via the below link:

My magazine piece on HSI and human trafficking will be out in the coming months and I'll post a link here.

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