Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Human trafficking in the United States

A long time human trafficking activist worked throughout the world to battle the problem. But recently Pam Strickland was surprised to find that the problem exists in the US as well.

From the Daily Advance, reporter Kim Grizzard writes more about this modern day slavery that is taking place right here in the US

A year ago, a Farmville woman set out to tell people here that human trafficking exists in the world. On Tuesday, she said that what has been recognized as a global problem also may be a local one.

Pam Strickland told dozens of people meeting as part of a newly formed community action group to combat human trafficking that the local area may now be affected by the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise. Described by the U.S. Department of State as a present-day form of slavery, human trafficking exploits people — mostly women and children — forcing them into prostitution or slave labor.

“This is not just an international problem,” said Strickland, community ambassador for Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now. “It exists in the United States and North Carolina.

“We don’t know the scope of the problem in Pitt County because there’s been no one attempting to assess it.”

That is changing, largely due to recent efforts by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office. Through a U.S. Department of Justice grant, local law enforcement has received nearly half a million dollars to determine the extent of trafficking and how to stop it. The local law enforcement taskforce is one of about a dozen nationwide dedicated to human trafficking.

Leading the effort is Detective Chauncey Congleton, a 15-year law enforcement veteran. Congleton is in charge of a task force that is working to not only enforce the law but to educate r law enforcement officials about human trafficking.

“It’s the fastest growing crime in the world,” Congleton said. “It’s the biggest civil rights violation there is. It’s modern-day slavery.”

Congleton, who spent a decade as a narcotics investigator, said his recent training with the San Jose, Calif., police department’s human trafficking division has helped make him more sensitive to the signs of human trafficking.

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