Local News

State, Feds Work to Halt Human Trafficking

Posted July 24, 2007

— State and federal officials are working together to train law enforcement and advocacy groups to battle human trafficking, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

Officials estimated 14,000 to 17,000 people have been brought to the United States with the promise of jobs, only to be intimidated, held against their will and forced into prostitution or debt bondage.

"We stand here today in a united front against slavery, which still exists in America," Vanessa Garza, director of the trafficking team in DHHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement, said during a news conference.

In the past year, investigators busted Durham and Raleigh brothels where they suspected women were kept as sex slaves. Detectives also raided a club with alleged ties to immigrant traffickers.

Traffickers lure victims with promises and trap them once they get to the area, authorities said.

"It's dirty, and it's dangerous, and it's nothing like what they were promised. Then, they're taken to a work site, and where they're promised regular hours, they're working obscene hours," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Exum said.

"You can have the most extreme situation where somebody has been physically abused multiple, multiple times, where they were brought here thinking they were going to be a domestic worker," immigration attorney Kaci Bishop said.

Most of the modern-day slaves won't run or report abuse because they don't speak English, and they fear retribution or arrest, experts said.

Advocates behind the rescue and recovery effort said illegal immigration breeds controversy, but they said human trafficking is different and the victims need assistance.

"There could be that sentiment that this is just another way to help immigrants. But I think, when most people learn about it and hear about it, (they) understand this is really a human rights violation," Bishop said.

State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, has introduced a bill that would make human trafficking a felony offense and would make state assistance available to trafficking victims.


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  • 68_polara Jul 25, 2007


    I've only noticed them on Angier Avenue in Durham. Maybe it's getting a little better... but I don't know. You are right that they always look drugged up. I bet the pimps like to keep these poor unfortunate girls that way.

  • Bon Viveur Jul 25, 2007

    Durham NC has long been involved in the sex slave brothel industry. Durham is often crowded with hookers in various states of undress, trying to flag down cars, and they are often even brazen enough to try to open your car door while you are at a stoplight. Most seem to be high on something, and I have seen more than a few hookers in Durham just shuffling around in bedroom slippers! Durham also has it's fair share of male prostitution as well. I'm sure people remember that in the Durham Peterson muder trial, that several of Mr. Petersons male hookers took to the stand in court, and some made statements about Durham being a thriving center of prostitution where anyone could get what they wanted for a very low price.

  • nowayebby Jul 25, 2007

    I only hope that human traficing means all humans in traffic coming north from mexico. If they want to be treated like 1st class individuals, they can enter the country like 1st class immigrants, not like a bunch of theives in the middle of the night.

  • Steve Crisp Jul 24, 2007

    "We stand here today in a united front against slavery, which still exists in America," Vanessa Garza, director of the trafficking team in DHHS' Office of Refugee Resettlemen"

    There is no slavery in the United States today. There Is kidnapping and extortion, but not slavery. Slavery is an institution fostered by government or tribal support.

    The woman from DHHs is obviously an idiot who wants nothing more than to inflame passions rather than actually do something about the problem of kidnapping -- which the last time I looked was a pretty serious felony.

  • -info- Jul 24, 2007

    I am with some of the others here, exactly how many of us Americans are trafficking people????? If the Federal Government would do their JOB, maybe the problem could be controlled better...and yes assist victims back home ASAP, oh, thats right, that was suppose to be done to begin with...

  • Historians 12th Jul 24, 2007

    Does this mean no more mail order brides?

  • BR549-ssdd Jul 24, 2007

    If they would stay where they belong .they would'd have this problem..

  • whatusay Jul 24, 2007

    freedomrings...thanks for appropriately explaining the definition of the word "infest".

  • ladyblue Jul 24, 2007

    I agree these trafficking needs to be stopped. They should not be considered in the same category, but they should be taken care of their wounds and given a bus or plane ticket if necessary to their home country. They will probably learn a lesson that don't believe what they hear as being the truth. If they knew the people who were helping them get into the USA were smugglers then they knew they were not legal and should not have options of staying under another category.

  • Arkansas Razorback Jul 24, 2007

    The illegals should sit and panhandle with a sign that says "I only need 10 more dollars to get back home"