#Pittsburgh, #US; #OperationTEN; #ICE; HSI; FBI
Pittsburgh, Jul 24 (Canadian-Media): The creation of a new anti-human trafficking coalition, Operation T.E.N. (Trafficking Ends Now), comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies as well as non-governmental organizations was announced on July 22 by United States Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Pittsburgh, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Pittsburgh.
Operation T.E.N. Facebook Official
Operation T.E.N., an umbrella coalition for the 25 counties in the Western District of Pennsylvania, is a coordinated effort to ending human trafficking through education, improving cooperation among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
“Human trafficking is a corrosive and degrading practice that goes against both the rule of law and the most basic standards of human dignity...Operation T.E.N. Coalition, dedicated to ending human trafficking by promoting partnerships with private and public entities,” said David Abbate, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for HSI Pittsburgh in news release. “We are confident...with our victim-centric approach to investigations...and prosecution of suspects.”
“Human trafficking is an affront to human dignity,” said U.S. Attorney Brady in news release. “It is a form of modern-day slavery that knows no race, gender, age or border. Operation T.E.N.’s collaborative approach...ensure that survivors can more easily and directly access the services they need for a healthy, safe recovery.”
“The FBI depends on our partnerships to help us protect communities,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman in news release. “We will work with our partners at every level to take those responsible for this heinous crime off our streets. It’s our priority to identify and recover child victims of human trafficking. They are some of the most vulnerable members of our community who have been physically and emotionally abused and don’t see a way out. We want them to know there is a way to start rebuilding their lives and human trafficking will not be tolerated.”
While human trafficking can occur in a variety of scenarios and industries, indicators of trafficking activities often look the same across most cases.
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying a victim and can help save a life. It is often a hidden crime, and victims may be afraid to come forward and get help. It is vital that ICE continue to spread the word and educate the public to be aware of the signs so that victims can be identified, and traffickers brought to justice.
In fiscal year 2019, HSI arrested 2,197 individuals in connection with human trafficking. From those cases, more than 400 trafficking victims were identified and offered critical assistance. The top five locations for human trafficking criminal arrests by ICE were Los Angeles (344), Houston (205), Atlanta (130), Charlotte (125), and Phoenix (124).
Specialists with the agency’s Victim Assistance Program assess a victim’s needs and work with law enforcement to integrate victim assistance considerations throughout a criminal investigation. HSI can also assist a victim in getting a short-term immigration relief called Continued Presence, which is available only upon request by law enforcement. In the absence of other resources, DHS has an emergency assistance fund which is available for emergency victim assistance needs.
Bystanders play a unique role in identifying and preventing this crime. If you notice suspicious activity, please contact ICE through its tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or ice.gov/tips.
#US; #HSI; #ICE; #SexTraffickingOfMinors; #imprisonment
Tampa, Florida (US), Jul 8 (Canadian-Media): A Tampa man was sentenced today to 11 years and three months in federal prison for sex trafficking of minors and was ordered to forfeit a Glock 19 9mm handgun and cellular phone, both of which were used during the commission of the offenses.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Image credit: Twitter handle
"Two young girls were saved from a life of human trafficking with this investigation," said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Cochran. "HSI agents will continue to uncover, dismantle and disrupt human trafficking, around the globe, and right here in our own communities."According to court documents, in May 2019, Luis Berrios-Trinidad, 30, of Tampa, began communicating with undercover law enforcement agents regarding the commercial sex trafficking of underage females. Berrios-Trinidad represented that he had access to girls ranging in age from 14 to 17 years old, and that the price per girl was between $160-180 an hour.
On June 6, 2019, Berrios-Trinidad arranged to bring two underage females to a hotel for a "sex party" with adult men. On that evening, he arrived with two girls, ages 14 and 17. Once inside the hotel room, Berrios-Trinidad was arrested, and the victims were rescued.
The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Middle District Florida Assistant United States Attorney Candace Garcia Rich. Berrios-Trinidad had pleaded guilty January 30, 2020.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 25,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2019, more than 3,500 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
#ICE; #HSI; #USDeptOfHomelandSecurity; #CityXGuide; #HumanTraficking; #Backpage.com; #SexTrafficking
Dallas (US), Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): Wilhan Martono, 46, was charged in a 28-count federal indictment June 2 after his website CityXGuide.com, a leading source of online advertisements for prostitution and sex trafficking was seized by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, media reports said.
An investigation was conducted by the special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assigned to HSI Dallas.
Wilhan Martono was indicted on one count of promotion of prostitution and reckless disregard of sex trafficking, one count of interstate racketeering conspiracy (facilitating prostitution), nine counts of interstate transportation in aid of racketeering (facilitating prostitution), and 17 count s of money laundering.
On June 17, HSI and U.S. Secret Service agents arrested him in Fremont, California.
Shortly after the defendant's arrest, CityXGuide was replaced with a splash page notifying users that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had seized the website pursuant to a warrant.
According to the indictment, Martono allegedly netted more than $21 million from illicit websites promoting prostitution and sex trafficking. He allegedly registered the domain names for several of the sites just one day after the FBI shut down Backpage.com, then the Internet's leading source of prostitution and sex trafficking advertisements.
Martono allegedly concealed his online activity by routing website traffic through an IP address in Europe, using a VPN to mask his IP address while conducting CardCash transactions, and funneling his proceeds through a network of business and personal bank accounts. DHS seized millions of dollars from Martono accounts at the time of his arrest.
CityXGuide, which served clients across the globe, included a list of 14 "Favorite Cities," including Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and Boston.
Numerous minor victims in CityXGuide advertisements had been identified by Law enforcement, including a 13-year-old Jane Doe rescued in North Texas in November 2019.
"This case is a harsh reminder of the ruthlessness of human traffickers and lengths to which they go, including victimizing women and children, to make a profit," said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas. "HSI maintains its unwavering commitment to investigate these heinous crimes, rescue victims, and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law."
If convicted, Martono faces up to 25 years in federal prison.
Martono was charged in part under FOSTA, a law passed in the wake of the Backpage scandal in April 2018 that allows the federal government to prosecute websites that facilitate sex trafficking.
The case is being prosecuted by assistant US Attorneys Sid Mody, Rebekah Ricketts and John de la Garza.
#Ontario; #VictimsOfSexTrafficking; #AntiHumanTraffickingStrategy
Ottawa, Jun 16 (Canadian-Media): An investment of up to $46 million by the Ontario government over the next five years is being made to increase supports for community-based and Indigenous-specific child and youth victims of sex trafficking, media reports said.
Sex trafficking. Image credit: Twitter handle
Announced in March 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy will invest over the next five years $307 million on a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and punish the offenders. The strategy reflects valuable input from survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous communities and organizations, law enforcement and frontline service providers.
Approximately two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario and over 70 percent of these are under the age of 25 and 26 per cent are under 18. The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.
“Our goal is to build a more comprehensive network of anti-human trafficking services across Ontario, so more victims have access to the supports they need.” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
Funding will be available to partners and agencies and focus on areas such as:
“Human trafficking isn’t just an enforcement issue — it’s a vicious and violent crime that preys on our most vulnerable, robbing them of their health, safety and dignity,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "These programs are vital components of Ontario’s comprehensive plan to combat human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice and end this heinous crime.”
Acceptance of applications to the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives be until 5 p.m. on July 30, 2020.
#IOM; #HumanTrafficking; #NCCHT; #UNODC; #NRM; #HumanRightsReforms
Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Mar 31 (Canadian-Media): This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in launching a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which outlines best practices and pathways for handling cases of trafficking in persons.
Dr Awad Al-Awaad, President of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission meets with IOM Director General António Vitorino at the Human Rights Commission Premises in Riyadh to discuss the progress of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in combating Trafficking in Persons. Image credit: IOM
“The project Strengthening Mechanisms to Combat Human Trafficking in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the first IOM project of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, addressing issues of prevention and protection of trafficking in persons,” said Mohamed El Zarkani, IOM Bahrain’s Chief of Mission, covering the implementation of the project in Saudi Arabia.
“It works in harmony, simultaneously, with a leading UNODC programme focusing on partnership, prosecution, and data management. The collaboration is a welcome and timely step into international collaboration on the subject of trafficking.”
The mechanism is a collaborative framework that helps government officials to coordinate their efforts to better prevent trafficking in persons and protect victims or potential victims of human trafficking in the Kingdom and coordinates the investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators.
With an estimated 13 million foreign workers (38.3 per cent of an overall population of 34 million people), this move stands to dramatically improve protection measures for a significant number of people.
Men and women – primarily from South- and Southeast Asia and Africa – voluntarily migrate to Saudi Arabia to work in a variety of sectors, including construction and domestic service. Some workers can become vulnerable to forced labour and other forms of exploitation.
The launch of the NRM marks the Government of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to reaching and protecting the most vulnerable segments of society – including men, women, and children.
“Human trafficking is an affront to the dignity of all humanity,” said Dr. Awwad Alawwad, Chair of the NCCHT.
“It is our duty to eradicate this heinous practice and I am proud to report that the launch of the National Referral Mechanism is a major step to that end. The Mechanism will be complemented by additional human rights reforms which will further improve the quality of life of all citizens and residents of the Kingdom – barring none.”
The NCCHT, in collaboration with the UNODC and IOM, has begun to jointly train key members of the national anti-trafficking team in their respective roles, as well as skills in identification, referral and protection of potential victims.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government is working closely with all parties to ensure that this valuable training continues through the use of teleconferencing. Key staff, including labour inspectors, health professionals, and civil society representatives will learn a number of new skills depending on the roles mandated to them to help identify early warning signs of human trafficking and develop standard operating procedures to guide response staff.
“This ambitious training and capacity building programme led by NCCHT for the entire stakeholders nation-wide, and the fact that it continues even during the unfortunate pandemic, reflects only the level of commitment and determination KSA attached to improving national mechanisms and responses to trafficking in persons,” said Dr. Hatem Aly, UNODC Regional Representative for the Gulf countries.
The unveiling of the Mechanism coincides with the launch of an anonymous digital reporting service, embedded in the NCCHT website, for persons with information on possible human-trafficking violations in the Kingdom. The referral service will be expanded to include a 24/7 hotline and mobile application, both of which are currently under development.
IOM’s Mohamed El Zarkani explained: “The launch of the NRM is a key milestone in the fight to combat trafficking in persons in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This move forward, along with a strong programme of training for frontline workers who will implement it, will lead to enhanced protection measures for the most vulnerable, bringing Saudi Arabia amongst the countries leading the fight against this transnational crime.”
#HumanTraffickingAwarenessDay; #ProtectionOfChildren&Women; #HumanTraffickingStrategy
Toronto, Feb 24 (Canadian-Media): Ontario's Premier Doug Ford, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, made the following statement on Feb 22 in recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Day:
"Today we have a valuable opportunity to raise awareness and continue the fight against human trafficking to protect children and women. This heinous crime robs victims of their dignity and safety, and has a devastating impact on their lives, their families and their communities.
Human traffickers target the most vulnerable in our communities, predominantly young women and girls. Two-thirds of all human trafficking cases in Canada occur in Ontario and the average age of recruitment is 13 years old.
Our government is committed to keeping children and women safe. We are building stronger, safer communities and providing police services with the resources they need to combat this horrible crime. As a result, we are investing $20 million annually to support survivors and to get tough on offenders with anti-human trafficking law enforcement initiatives.
We've heard from survivors, law enforcement, Indigenous communities and frontline service providers. Their insights and perspectives are helping us develop a new province-wide anti-human trafficking strategy that we will launch in the coming weeks.
As parents ourselves, ending human trafficking remains a top priority for our government as we work to keep communities and families safe. We will continue the fight against human trafficking, and work towards a day where everyone can live free from exploitation and violence."
#YorkRegionalPoliceHumanTraffickingTeamInvestigators; #humantrafficking; #AlexanderRoberts; #YorkRegionalPolice; #HumanTraffickingInvestigation
York Region, May 7 (Canadian-Media): A 20-year-old man, Alexander Roberts, from the City of Toronto had been charged by York Regional Police Human Trafficking Team investigators, in connection with several offences related to the human trafficking of female victims under the age of 18, media reports said.
Alexander Roberts/Courtesy of York Region Police
An investigation began into a suspected pimp, on Tuesday April 3, 2018, believed to be trafficking teenage victims under the age of 18.
It was believed by the investigators that the accused who was active online on a number of social media sites, may be using his accounts to find his victims.
On April 26, 2018, the accused was charged with several offences related to human trafficking.
After locating two teenage female victims, the investigators have released a photo of the accused and are encouraging any additional victims to come forward.
The accused had been charged with Trafficking in Persons Under the Age of 18, Procuring-Person Under 18; Exercise Control, Direction or Influence Over Person Under 18; Possession of Child Pornography x2; Distribution of Child Pornography x2; Advertise Sexual Services x2; Material Benefit Resulting From Trafficking in Persons Under 18; Material Benefit From Sexual Services Provided by Person Under 18; Assault; Fail to comply with Conditions of Recognizance x2
#humantraffickinginOntario, #restrainingorder, #OntarioCourtofJustice, #Anti-HumanTraffickingAct
Ottawa, May 5 (Canadian-Media): Ontario had launched May 4, a new pilot program, a first of its kind in Canada to assist survivors of human trafficking escape exploitation and violence by providing free legal supports, media reports said.
Up to $72 million has been invested by Ontario for this cause to increase awareness, increase initiatives for justice and improve survivors' access to services.
“Human trafficking has a devastating impact on survivors and their families. We are committed to ensuring people in Ontario have the support and legal options they need to protect themselves as they rebuild their lives. Free legal representation is an important step in this journey for survivors to have peace of mind,” said Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General and Ontario Government Attorney Leader.
Survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of getting restraining order -- an important legal tool in protecting survivors and individuals at risk of being trafficked from the threat of exploitation and violence -- would reportedly be provided, effective May 1, free legal support and confidential legal advice by a team of specialized lawyers to help them complete restraining order application and represent their hearings in any Ontario Court of Justice.
In addition, a new type of human trafficking-specific restraining order, created under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act is now in effect to help protect survivors and the safety of those around them which does not require notifying the trafficker in advance.
The program is available province wide, by phone or in person.
“It is critical that survivors of human trafficking have access to the services and support that they need. This program ensures that individuals in every community can access free and confidential legal advice, no matter where they are in the province,” Harinder Malhi, Ontario Minister of the Status of Women said.
"We have heard from our partners on the front-lines that traffickers often pursue survivors when they try to leave and seek safety. This new program will make an important difference in the lives of those being targeted and their families, by providing meaningful legal recourse to use against those who seek to exploit them, ” Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services
Reporting by Asha Bajaj
#ProjectRaphael, #HumanTrafficking, #YorkRegionPolice, #ThaiTruong, #SusanOrlando, #CasandraDiamond
A four-year investigation Project Raphael with the York Regional Police (YRP) Human Trafficking Team (HTT) concluded with the arrest of 104 men, including 72 since the beginning of 2016, trying to purchase sex with children, YRP media release said.
Project Raphael, which was made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, began in 2014 as a part of the YRP strategy to end child sex trafficking.
The strategy involved rescuing victims, identifying and charging those who traffic children, and identifying and charging those who attempted to purchase sex with children.
YRP is partnering with many other law enforcement agencies, government bodies and community-based organizations to try to put an end to sex trafficking including: Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ministry of the Attorney General, York Region Children's Aid Society, Victim Services of York Region, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, 360Kids, Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, Women's Support Network.
Thai Truong/Courtesy YRP
A post by Nigma Media on the facebook account of Det.-Sgt. Thai Truong reads,
“Det. Sgt. Thai Truong says most men stopped communicating when they heard the ages, but 104 men didn’t stop. He says child sex trafficking is a growing problem in Canada. Truong says the average age of entry into the human trafficking sex trade is about 15 years old. He says police carried out their investigation over four years and focused on men who sought to buy sex from children in an effort to curb demand.”
YRP said that in many cases, women and young girls were victims of crimes as they were either lured or forced by threat or violence into the sex trade.
Truong said that in this police investigation, there were no actual young girls or women as victims of child sex.
Investigating team, in these four years, were able to charge 104 men who responded to online advertisement and then negotiated the purchase of sex with children between the ages of 13-16. The men charged ranged in ages from 18 to 71 years and were from Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and some came to York Region from other provinces.
in just three days of this investigation in 2017, the HTT investigators arrested 19 men who believed that they were purchasing sex from either a 13-year-old or 14-year-old child, indicating the demand for prostituted children.
HTT members are making efforts in combating human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and underage girls. Investigators said they were willing to speak with anyone involved in the sex trade who may be looking for a way out, or require assistance to escape from these dangerous circumstances.
"The biggest challenge for us when we're dealing with prostituted children is that enlisting their co-operation is very, very difficult. Getting them to trust me, getting them to tell us what has happened is challenging," Truong said, CBCNews reports said.
Through this project, police were trying to remove the burden from children and go after the men that were driving this industry. The world of human trafficking is an ugly world, said Truong.
Susan Orlando, provincial co-ordinator of the human trafficking prosecution team at Ontario's attorney general ministry, said the project had revealed the demand for sex with children that exists in York Region and the surrounding area.
"These girls experience significant and long lasting trauma from which most never recover. Young lives are irreparably damaged, some completely destroyed and some lost completely," she said.
"Exploiting the most vulnerable segments of our society and our youth for personal gain, whether it's for a John's sexual gratification or a pimp's financial gain, is among the most abhorrent criminal conduct and transgression of our moral code that exists in our society today," CBCNews reports said.
Project Raphael had, in fact, had successfully prevented 104 men in destroying lives of 104 children.
Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional police, credited investigators for their work as being second to none.
In another similar story published last month involving child sex trade also concentrated in York Region Casandra Diamond, the director of BridgeNorth women's mentorship and advocacy services, was a survivor who spent a decade in the sex industry after being lured in at 18.
"The more people know about human trafficking... the better able we're going to be as a community to keep it at bay,” said Diamond, CBCNews reports said.
Diamond said it was crucial for parents to keep their kids safe online.
"We wouldn't leave them alone downtown in York region, we wouldn't leave them alone on a street corner to fend for themselves — but we do that on the Internet," she said, CBCNews reports said.
York Regional Police also asked anyone with further information contact their office at 1-866-876-5423, ext.7817, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or email: email@example.com
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)