- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2011

More than 80 percent of the 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking investigated by law enforcement agencies between January 2008 and June 2010 involved adult prostitution or the exploitation and forced prostitution of children, a Justice Department report released Thursday says.

The report, written by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), says 48 percent of the investigated incidents involved adults, while 40 percent uncovered the exploitation or forced prostitution of children. The remainder, about 350 cases, involved allegations of labor trafficking, in which people were being forced against their will into performing labor — including forced begging and roadside sales, along with work at hair salons, hotels and bars.

Under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, according to the report, human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud or coercion.

Any commercial sex act performed by a person under age 18 is considered human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion is involved, the report said.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., announced the formation of a presidential task force on human trafficking involving a new collaboration by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor. Calling human trafficking a “modern-day slavery,” he said it was “an affront to human dignity,” adding that men, women and children were being exploited for sex and labor in “virtually every corner of our nation.”

Justice, Homeland Security and Labor are part of a Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative, in which specialized Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams, known as ACTeams, have been convened in a number of pilot districts nationwide. Under the leadership of the highest-ranking federal law enforcement officials in the districts, the teams bring together federal agents and prosecutors across agency lines to combat human trafficking threats, dismantle human-trafficking networks and bring traffickers to justice.

Mr. Holder said the ACTeams give federal authorities the ability to leverage the assets and expertise of each agency more effectively than ever before.

“But we will not rest until this unprecedented collaboration translates into the results that matter most: the liberation of victims and the prosecution of traffickers,” he said.

According to the report, more than four-fifths of the confirmed victims of sex trafficking — about 83 percent — were U.S. citizens, while 95 percent of the confirmed victims of labor trafficking were either illegal immigrants or foreign nationals working legally in the U.S.

The report also said the confirmed victims of human trafficking were predominantly female and that among the confirmed sex trafficking victims, they were “overwhelmingly female” at 94 percent and made up 68 percent of the labor trafficking victims as well.

Most of the confirmed sex trafficking incidents involved the prostitution of children (about 60 percent) compared with adult prostitution (about 40 percent). The report said of the sex trafficking victims, 40 percent were black and 26 percent were white, while labor trafficking victims were identified as Hispanic (63 percent) or Asian (17 percent.)

According to the report, more than half of the confirmed labor trafficking victims were 25 or older (62 percent), while only 13 percent of the confirmed sex trafficking victims were that old. More than 80 percent of the confirmed human trafficking suspects were male, 62 percent of the confirmed sex trafficking suspects were black and 48 percent of the confirmed labor trafficking suspects were Hispanic, the report said.

• Chuck Neubauer can be reached at cneubauer@washingtontimes.com.

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