ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Acting United States Attorney Antoinette Bacon announced Friday that her office, together with federal, state, and local law enforcement, has launched a law enforcement task force focused on combating human trafficking. Bacon’s office plans to expand the task force to cover all 32 counties it serves.
The task force is comprised of members from the United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, and New York State Police. Additionally, there are members of the Police Departments of Albany, Colonie, Rotterdam, Schenectady, Troy; Sherriff’s Offices of the Counties Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Ulster; Rensselaer County Probation Department; and the Offices of the District Attorneys of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga Counties.
Last week, the United States Attorney’s Office hosted a virtual training for members of the task force. National experts from the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecutions Unit lectured on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, coercion-based sex trafficking and forced labor, trauma informed interviewing, and proactive strategies to detect trafficking crimes.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bacon said. “Ruthless traffickers use force, lies, threats, coercion, and sometimes even drugs, to force victims into a life of commercial sex or tedious labor. Victims are trapped; and they need our help to reclaim their freedom. We launched this task force, during the 10th Annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, to enhance law enforcement’s ability to dismantle human trafficking networks and to help restore victims’ lives.”
The United States Attorney’s Office and its partners encourage the community to join in their efforts by staying alert for signs of trafficking, including:
- Is the person in the company of someone they know? Or, someone who seems to be in control of the situation, for example where they go or who they talk to?
- Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
- Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
- Does the person lack personal items and appear not to have a stable living situation?
- Does the person have freedom of movement? Can he or she leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
- Does the person seem preoccupied with his or her cellphone or internet-capable devices?
- Does the person have items, for example clothing, shoes, accessories, electronics, that he or she should not be able to afford?
- Is the child missing school or missing parts of the school day without explanation?
If you or someone you know is being trafficked, contact local law enforcement or report it to federal law enforcement through the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or 1-866-347-2423.