Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pakistan makes huge anti-trafficking bust

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: The Federal Investgation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday claimed to have busted

an international gang of human traffickers involved in smuggling over 5,000 jobless youth abroad.

The ringleader identified as Maula Bakhsh Baloch, an Iranian national, was held from Peshawar International Airport along with his Iranian accomplice, Dil Murad Baloch, when they were on their way to Karachi via a domestic flight.

“He is probably the leading human trafficker of the country who has smuggled thousands of people - 4,500 to 5,000 of whom were later deported by different countries — to Iran and from there to Muscat, Turkey, Egypt and European countries and onward,” FIA Inspector Shahid Ilyas told The News.

The FIA officer, who was visibly excited over the ‘catch’, said that a case was registered against the two accused under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention and Countering of Human Trafficking Ordinance.

The accused persons were produced before a local court, which remanded them into FIA custody for two days. Maula Bakhsh Baloch was reportedly also wanted to Iran and Afghanistan in innumerable cases of human trafficking.

“The two Iranian nationals visited areas of Swabi, Mardan and Nowshera to get advance from those willing to go to Muscat, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus or even Europe. They were asked to reach a market in Karachi from where they would be boarded in buses to leave for Kalatoo village on Pak-Iran border,” Shahid disclosed, adding the Kalatoo village has around 50 houses, but two buses leave for the town from Karachi everyday to transport hundreds of people coming from across the country to go abroad illegally.

It is learnt that those wishing to go abroad are smuggled normally in containers supposed to transport food, oil and other items to Iran. In one such ugly incident in Quetta last month, 45 Afghans were suffocated to death in a container that was being smuggled to Iran.

The human traffickers had abandoned the container after they failed to cross them over to Iran. From Iran, it is learnt, they are sent to Muscat, Oman and Gulf countries. Those wishing to go to Cyprus, Egypt and other European countries are boarded on buses to cross the Iran-Turkey border.

The FIA had launched an operation to stop human trafficking through sea, while Operation Fox Hunt was kicked off to counter the crime through land route in 2005. The agency officials are of the opinion Maula Bakhsh, an Iranian Baloch in his 40s, has links with local traffickers through his subagents. “We are after the local agents and will nab them soon,” Inspector Shahid claimed, saying the problem they are facing is that human trafficking is not normally considered a social crime.

Original Story from The News

Man charged with traffficking girl from Ohio

April 29, 2009
Written by Julie Scharper

A Millersville man has been charged with human trafficking, accused of luring a 16-year-old from her Ohio home to take her to a "party" and then forcing her to work as a prostitute in his apartment, according to court documents. Police said that Craig Allen Corey, 25, was also charged with several counts of prostitution and drug possession after Anne Arundel County police raided his apartment in the 600 block of Millwright Court. According to the documents, an undercover officer answering a Craigslist ad for "erotic services" was led to the apartment Friday. Once the officer was in the apartment, he gave a woman $100 and she took off her clothes. At a signal from the officer, an arrest team raided the apartment. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Committee Passes Bill to Seize Property of Human Traffickers

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee today unanimously approved legislation to assist victims of human trafficking and support law enforcement by allowing courts to seize any property, such as house or automobile, of a person convicted of human trafficking and used in the commission of the crime. Senate Bill 557, authored Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), also adds a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

"SB 557 will bring much-needed resources to help fight human trafficking, while also ensuring victims receive the services they need to recover from this horrific crime," said Yee. "Between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the United States each year and enslaved for purposes of sexual or labor exploitation, and unfortunately many of the cases occur here in California. Our state has led the way in combating human trafficking and exploitation, but we should not stop our efforts until all women, men, and children are free and safe from such an appalling offense."

Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide, according to the US Department of State. Victims are generally trafficked into the US from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. Many human trafficking victims do not understand English and are therefore isolated and often unable to communicate with service providers, law enforcement and others who might be able to help them.

Research by the Human Rights Center at the University of California found 57 forced labor operations between 1998 and 2003 throughout California. These operations – mostly in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose – involved more than 500 victims from 18 countries.



The US Department of Justice recently announced that in the first 21 months of operation, the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) recorded information on more than 1,200 alleged incidents of human trafficking.

According to the Justice Department, over 90 percent of victims in both alleged and confirmed human trafficking incidents were female. Nearly 60 percent of victims in labor trafficking cases were female and almost all (99%) victims in sex trafficking cases were female.

Hispanic victims comprised the largest share (37 percent) of alleged sex trafficking victims and more than half (56 percent) of alleged labor trafficking victims. Asians made up 10 percent of alleged sex trafficking victims, compared to 31 percent of labor trafficking victims. Approximately two-thirds of victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were age 17 or younger (27 percent) or age 18 to 24 (38 percent). Sex trafficking victims tended to be younger (71 percent were under age 25) and labor trafficking victims tended to be older (almost 70 percent were age 25 or older).

Nearly eight in 10 human trafficking suspects were male. US citizens accounted for 66 percent of suspects in alleged incidents.

If you are a victim of trafficking or an organization needing assistance, please contact the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Original Article from California Chronicle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Houston Man Sentenced for Human Trafficking


WASHINGTON -- Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Loretta King and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Tim Johnson announced that Maximino Mondragon, 57, was sentenced today for his role in a scheme to smuggle Central American women and girls into the United States and to hold them in a condition of forced labor in the Houston area. U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore sentenced Mondragon to 156 months incarceration, three years post release supervision, $200 special assessment and further ordered that he, jointly with his co-defendants, pay $1,715,588.05 in restitution to the victims.

Maximino Mondragon is the last of eight defendants to be convicted and sentenced in connection with this scheme to compel the victims into service in restaurants, bars and cantinas, using threats to harm the victims and their families if they attempted to leave before paying off their smuggling debts.

Mondragon previously pleaded guilty to violations of conspiracy to hold persons in a condition of indentured servitude and to illegally and knowingly recruiting, harboring, transporting persons for labor and services, and conspiracy to bring, harbor, and transport known illegal aliens for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain.

The defendants lured Central American women to the United States with promises of good jobs. However, once the young women arrived, they were forced to work in the defendants' bars and cantinas selling high-priced drinks to male customers. The women were subjected to threats of harm to them and their families in order to compel their servitude.

"The defendant ruthlessly exploited these women's hopes for a better life through coercion, false promises and threats of harm. The victims were forced into modern day slavery," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will devote its efforts to prosecuting those who commit such abhorrent and exploitative crimes."

"The victims in this case were subjected to horrible treatment at the hands of these defendants," said Tim Johnson, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. "We will use every resource available to make certain that violations of this sort result in the maximum prison term available."

Co-defendants Oscar Mondragon and Walter Corea were also convicted of both conspiracy counts and each sentenced to prison terms of 180 months. Co-defendant Victor Omar Lopez was sentenced to 109 months in prison on both conspiracy counts. Co-defendant Olga Mondragon, who was convicted of multiple charges stemming from her involvement in these schemes to hold young Central American victims in a condition of forced labor and to smuggle the young women to the United States for financial gain, was sentenced to a prison term of 84 months. Co-defendant Maria Fuentes was convicted of harboring the young women for financial gain and sentenced to 30 months in prison. Co-defendant Lorenza Reyes-Nunez was convicted of obstruction of justice and has been sentenced to 19 months in prison. Co-defendant Kerin Silva was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle aliens and sentenced to 12 months' home detention followed by three years of probation.

In announcing the sentencing, Acting Assistant Attorney General King and Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson commended the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, the Harris County Constable Precinct Five Office, and the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, a federally funded multi-agency human trafficking task force, for their work on this cooperative investigation and prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben Perez and Joseph Magliolo and Civil Rights Division attorneys Jim Felte and Hilary Axam prosecuted this case for the government.


SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thailand, Burma sign pact against human trafficking

By: AFP
Published: 24/04/2009 at 05:50 PM

Thailand and Burma signed an agreement on Friday to combat human trafficking, especially of women and children -- the first such pact between two countries, the official statement said.

The agreement is aimed at improving cooperation along their 2,108 kilometre border.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers from impoverished Burma are working in Thailand, both legally and illegally.

Burma's Home Affairs Minister Maj-Gen Maung Oo and Thai Social Development and Human Security Minister Issara Somchai signed the pact in Burma's administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

The official statement said the pact was "an important step and provided a strong foundation for future joint efforts between the two countries in tackling cross-border trafficking''.

The deal covers areas such as prevention, protection, recovery and reintegration of victims, law enforcement and criminal justice, "as well as developing and implementing joint actions between the two countries", it said.

"We two countries tried to sign this (agreement) two years ago,'' a senior Burma police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"It's a big achievement for us to cooperate with neighbouring countries. We can discuss more effectively in the future,'' the official said.

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962 and is under sanctions by the United States and European countries because of its human rights records and continued detention of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not Teen Prostitutes but Trafficking Victims

By CHRISTINA HOAG – 5 days ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — By the time she was 8, Amanda had been sexually abused by her father's friend for four years. At 12, she was peddling crack. At 14, she was selling sex on the sidewalk.

Her pimp beat her weekly to keep her working, stitching up her wounds himself to avoid questions at a hospital. Her average earnings of $600 for a 13-hour day of turning tricks bought him a car.

Now 15, Amanda is rebuilding her life. Caught when a cop stopped one of her customers for a broken tail light, she was sent to Children of the Night, a residential program in suburban Los Angeles that rehabilitates teen prostitutes.

"All my life my plate was like overfilled with problems," she said. "I always asked God to give me something good, and this is it."

The fact that Amanda was rescued instead of arrested reflects not only a stroke of luck but a decidedly different take on tackling the juvenile sex trade. Courts and law enforcement are increasingly treating young prostitutes as child abuse victims — and their pimps as human traffickers.

"This is an institutional shift," said Nancy O'Malley, an Alameda County prosecutor who wrote California's new sexually exploited minors law. "It's about getting people to shift their attention and judgment from the minor and seeing what's beyond this criminal behavior."

New York also has a new law that calls for underage prostitutes to be sent to rehabilitation programs instead of juvenile detention, along with more training for law enforcement in handling the troubled teenagers and taking a harder line on their pimps.

In many other states, prosecutors are charging pimps with human trafficking, or the transportation of people for illicit commercial purposes. Convictions can land traffickers in prison for decades.

The approach comes as pimps are getting increasingly sophisticated and harder to bust. They run loose networks across states lines that distribute girls like drugs and set up Internet sex operations that are tough to infiltrate.

The result: Teen prostitution has spread to towns across the country, said Michael Langeman, who heads the FBI's Crimes Against Children unit. The FBI's work is also bolstered by federal trafficking laws to crack down on pimps.

In Nevada, a man was sentenced to life for transporting two girls from that state to cities around California to work as prostitutes in 2006. Last year, three people pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children in San Diego for running an Internet-advertised sex ring with 14- and 16-year-olds.

"This isn't like the old days of a slap on the wrist," said Keith Bolkar, who heads the FBI's Cybercrimes unit in Los Angeles.

Rescuing the girls is an important part of the equation. In most cases, they're troubled, often sexually abused, lured into prostitution by "boyfriends" who shower them with the loving attention they lack at home. Gifts and outings, though, turn into violence and emotional manipulation.

That was the case with Samantha, a 15-year-old from Orange County and now at Children of the Night. At 14, she said, she started using drugs and skipping school. She soon met an older man.

"He gave me money, drugs, clothes," she recalled. "I was having fun. Then he started hitting me."

The boyfriend took her to Arizona, made her pose for photos in lingerie and have sex with men who responded to Craigslist ads.

"I complained a lot so he gave me drugs," she said.

She was rescued when another girl was arrested and told police about her.

Children of the Night, which has 24 beds, is one of about four rehab programs for teen prostitutes around the country. The others are in New York City, San Francisco and Atlanta. Two more are planned to open this year in Oakland and Toledo, Ohio.

The dearth of programs means girls from all over the country are sent to Children of the Night.

Gladys, a 17-year-old from a Miami suburb, found herself there after she ran away from home to be with a boyfriend. The boyfriend advertised her as a prostitute on Craigslist and threatened to kill her if she didn't comply. She was shuffled around motels over a two-month period until one of his other "girlfriends" got arrested.

"I was like 'thank God. I want to go home. What did I get myself into?'" she said.

Now, she's completing high school and driver's instruction and looking for a job.

The Associated Press doesn't routinely identify the victims of sexual abuse. The names Amanda, Samantha and Gladys are pseudonyms.

Programs that build the girls' self-esteem, push them to finish high school and heal their trauma are ideal, but funding is always short for a cause that generally doesn't engender public sympathy, said Lois Lee, a sociologist who founded Children of the Night 30 years ago in her home and runs it on $2 million a year in private donations.

Once a girl becomes involved in prostitution, her prospects are bleak. An arrest usually offers the only hope for escape. Even then, there's a small chance the girl is offered rehabilitation — and accepts it. Lee said 61 percent of 94 girls at Children of the Night in 2008 completed the program.

Amanda, now studying for her high school diploma, realized that was her fate if she didn't accept Children of the Night.

"I said to myself 'If I go back to the streets, I'm there 'til I die,'" she said. "I knew this was my chance."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

President Obama to nominate Luis C. de Baca as "Anti-Trafficking Czar"


On March 24th, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Luis C. de Baca as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department. 

President Obama said, "I’m grateful that this fine public servant has agreed to join my administration, and I am confident that with Secretary Clinton he will be an indispensable part of our team as we work tirelessly to stand up for human rights and the rule of law.  I am confident that his unique experiences and proven ability will make him a strong advocate for our values and for justice around the globe."

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual today:

Luis C. de Baca, Nominee for Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, State Department 
Luis C. de Baca is Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, on detail from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  On the Committee, his portfolio for Chairman John Conyers, Jr. includes national security, intelligence, immigration, civil rights, and modern slavery issues. At the Justice Department, de Baca served as Chief Counsel of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. During the Clinton Administration, he was the Department's Involuntary Servitude and Slavery Coordinator and was instrumental in developing the United States' victim-centered approach to combating modern slavery.  He has investigated and prosecuted human trafficking cases in which victims were held for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, farm labor, domestic service, and factory work. De Baca received the leading honor given by the national trafficking victim service provider community, the Freedom Network’s Paul & Sheila Wellstone Award, and has been named the Michigan Law School’s Distinguished Latino Alumnus. De Baca graduated from Iowa State University and holds a J.D. from Michigan Law School, where he was President of the Hispanic Law Students Association and an editor of the Michigan Law Review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trafficking Passes Drugs in Europe

Human Trafficking in Europe Outweighs Drug Smuggling, says Report
By Ekaterina Popova and Ivailo Anguelov
Epoch Times Staff Apr 13, 2009 

The current scale of human trafficking outweighs the smuggling and spreading of drugs, according to a recent report by the European Commission (EC). The Commission is the executive branch of the European Union (EU).

1.2 million people globally become victims of human trafficking every year, according to estimates provided by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Most of the victims are women and children used for cheap labor and sexual services by organized multinational criminal groups, warns the EC.

The report also says that well-organized criminal conglomerates generate great profit from human trafficking and develop money-laundering schemes. The number of these criminal groups has mushroomed in the past several years. In response, the EC called on the countries in Europe to make tougher laws to tackle the illegal trafficking of people across their borders.
Tougher Laws by the EU

Last month, the EC adopted new proposals to strengthen the efforts to fight against human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children.

The new proposals intend to update the current statutes and bring them to the highest European standards. They will provide better protection and care for victims, and stricter sanctions against trafficking.

Prosecuting criminals, protecting victims, and preventing offenses are the three areas that EU member states will be obliged to act upon and translate into national legislations if the proposals are approved.

As stated in the proposals, criminal offenders being brought to justice even if the crimes are committed abroad will be emphasized. Police will be allowed to use similar tools and techniques as used against organized criminals, such as phone-tapping and eavesdropping.

Accommodations and medical care will become standard aid for victims. Police protections will be provided, if necessary, to help the victims recover from their ordeal, make them feel safer, and eliminate fear of testifying against their perpetrators in court, essential for successful legal proceedings. For the purpose of claiming financial compensation and punitive damages, victims will be entitled to free legal representation.

The proposals further encourage member states to scrutinize the clients who buy the sexual services of victims. Such clients may be sanctioned under new laws, as well as the employers who exploit trafficked people. Independent bodies will be put in place to monitor the implementation and development of these actions.

“We want to build an EU that is truly able to protect the most vulnerable citizens against the most terrible crimes,” said the Vice President of the EC responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, Jacques Barrot in a statement. “Our message is clear. These crimes which know no borders are unacceptable. Europe will continue to set the highest and most ambitious standards in fighting them.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

Trafficking victims try to remake lives

Trafficking victims try to remake lives
By MONICA RHOR Associated Press Writer © 2009 The Associated Press
April 12, 2009, 8:45AM


HOUSTON — Like dozens of other workers from Vietnam and China, Tiep Ngo had been lured to the Daewoosa clothing factory in American Samoa by hollow promises of good pay. She left behind her child, her husband and her parents and paid $5,000 for her job contract only to be starved, beaten and cheated of wages.

For nearly two years, Ngo labored in the stifling, overcrowded factory, subsisting on meager portions of rice and cabbage and longing for her family. Then, through the efforts of Good Samaritans, federal agents and churches, Ngo and about 300 other workers were rescued and brought to the U.S. mainland, some of the first immigrants to receive special T-visas allowing human trafficking victims to remain in this country and eventually become permanent residents.

Bedraggled, emaciated and frightened, they arrived hopeful that their harrowing tale would soon have a happy ending.

That was in 2001.

In the eight years since, the Daewoosa survivors have put down roots in Vietnamese enclaves like Houston, Seattle and Orange County, Calif., buying houses, building businesses and sending children to college. But they're stuck in a legal limbo, still waiting for their long-promised green cards and often mistakenly denied public assistance, college financial aid and other benefits.

Their story highlights the barriers and breakthroughs experienced by human trafficking victims struggling to remake their lives in this country.

They want to leave the past behind, but still wrestle with its ghosts. They dream of reuniting with their families, but can wait years for that to happen. They are eager to embrace life here, but often find that path blocked by a tangle of confusing immigration laws.

"This is the part that should be easier, and it's not," said Diana Velardo, an immigration lawyer at the University of Houston and chairwoman of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Freedom Day 2009

Freedom Day 2009
posted by Mike Masten
This year will mark the third annual Freedom Day in Southern California. Taking place this year at Life Pacific College, Freedom Day seeks to raise awareness and activism about human trafficking in Southern California. On Sunday, April 19th, students, activists and abolitionists from all around the area will come together at the university to learn more about the modern day abolitionist movement, watch the latest documentaries on human trafficking, listen to live music, and brainstorm ways that they can end the second largest illegal trade in the world. To sign up, visit the Freedom Day website.

ONE DAY, ONE ACT OF SOLIDARITY, ONE VOICE FOR FREEDOM..... Restoring Lives/Ending Slavery

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS include:

KEVIN BALES
President of Free the Slaves.
Author of Disposable People and Ending Slavery
www.freetheslaves.net

DR MELISSA FARLEY
Founder of prostitution research and education network.
Author of Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress and Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada.
www.prostitutionresearch.com

$5 suggested donation UPON ENTRANCE
(children free)


PLUS:
20 Learning Forums.
These learning forums are 60 minute and are intended for dialogue and networking. This year learning forums have been established for a wide audience ranging from the mature to the young (abolitionist).
To be listed in the next weeks.

DIVERSE NETWORKS Include:
10,000 Villages
Orange County Trafficking Coalition
LA County Trafficking Coalition
Stop the Traffik
Invisible Children (restore project)
JustOne
NightLight
Free the Slaves
LA County Unity Coalition
Emancipation Network
The Garden of Hope
Downtown Womens Shelter, LA
Bread for the World
World Vision International
Center for Women Studies, Vanguard University
BSCC
I.C.E.
Azusa Pacific University
La Verne University


VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES. Download file here
FREEDOM DAY 2009 restoring lives.doc

FILM
Films: The Sold Project, Field of Mudan, Name.age.sex, Kavi, more TBA

PLUS
Interactive Physical and Art Installs.
Free to play Basketball (3V3) and Volley Ball.
Food and Networking on site


MOBILIZATION:

This year Freedom Day is focusing on the Demand issue, Shelter Development, Mindful Consumption, and Everyday Mobilization for Everyday People. A pieceful movement. We hope you will join us as we raise our voice to restore the silent voices.

SPONSORS NEEDED:
We are seeking for business, faith community, agency, education, individual sponsors to partner in the cost associated with this day.
If interested or have questions please contact greg@just4one.org
fd09.html

MORE TO COME...
Will be posting Learning Forums shortly.
Videos for upload.
Day off information (parking areas, entrance items, what to bring, etc)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

UN Releases Global Report on Human Trafficking


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is releasing a new global report it conducted on human trafficking today. The report will not mention any new quantitative estimates but instead focus on current global trends.

Some highlights of the report:

  • In Central Asia and Eastern Europe 60% of convicted traffickers are woman
  • The South African region reported the weakest in combating human trafficking. Of the 11 countries only Zambia has prosecuted suspects since 2003
  • 79% of the victims were found to be exploited sexually
  • Cases of human trafficking previously overlooked included forced marriages, ritual killings, and organ harvesting

Overall the report found that although efforts globally have increased substantially since 2003 the majority of countries still remain ill-equipped to combat human trafficking.

The full-report should be made available on the UN resources page soon.