In observance of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month—proclaimed by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve—the United States Attorney’s Office has announced its renewed commitment to combat all forms of human trafficking and to engage all of the country’s diverse communities in raising awareness about the inhumane practice, officials stated on Thursday.
“Those who engage in any form of human trafficking are exploiting the most vulnerable among us by inducing or forcing their victims to engage in commercial sex or by subjecting them to forced labor,” U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said.
According to officials, human trafficking generally targets society’s most vulnerable, including children, abuse victims, people with physical or mental disabilities, the poor and undocumented residents.
“The United States Attorney’s Office and its federal, state, local, and tribal partners are working diligently to identify and support victims—and to bring their abusers to justice,” officials said in a statement. “Authorities are working to bring freedom to all victims of human trafficking—whether they are adults or children; male, female, or transgender individuals; citizens or noncitizens—regardless of the trafficking they endured.”
Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Justice, the multi-agency Los Angeles Human Trafficking Task Force—jointly led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department—was established in September 2015.
This task force has bolstered anti-trafficking efforts, officials said, and will enhance coordination and collaboration between agencies, aiming to expand the capacity to provide comprehensive services to victims.
Recent human trafficking cases in federal court prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office include:
- A Long Beach man who was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 2015 for running sex trafficking operations that involved threatening and physically beating victims to force them into prostitution.
- A Long Beach mother and son team pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges last year and admitted to trafficking minors and young women in California and Nevada, officials stated.
- A South Bay man was sentenced to almost five years in prison for lying to federal investigators about hiring a minor for prostitution in the first federal prosecution in the Los Angeles-area of a “john” in a teen human trafficking investigation, according to authorities.
- A former special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations pleaded guilty in December to accepting a bribe from a man being investigated for human trafficking.
Additionally, trial began this week in the case of a man charged with traveling to Cambodia to have sex with children, officials stated.