The Department of Justice today commemorates the 10th annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and declares a continued commitment to combatting human trafficking in all its forms. The fight against human trafficking remains one of the department’s highest priorities, and the department will remain relentless in its efforts to bring traffickers to justice and seek justice for survivors.
Human trafficking is a crime that preys on some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It is a crime of exploitation that deprives victims of their rights, freedom, and dignity. Traffickers exploit the vulnerable through forced labor or commercial sex involving children or involving adults subjected to force, fraud, or coercion.
“The Department of Justice is unflagging in its resolve to eradicate human trafficking and pursue justice for those affected by these heinous crimes,” said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson.
The Department of Justice is committed to continuing its victim-centered, trauma-informed approach to detecting hidden human trafficking crimes, holding perpetrators accountable, and restoring the lives of survivors, while strengthening strategic anti-trafficking partnerships. In fiscal year 2020, the department brought 210 federal human trafficking cases against 337 defendants, and secured 309 convictions.
Already in 2021, the department secured a sentence of life imprisonment for an individual in Florida who directed, primarily through online communications and transactions, the sex trafficking of impoverished young children in the Philippines. As a result, Filipino authorities were able to rescue six child victims from the defendant’s co-conspirator in the Philippines. Also in 2021, the department successfully convicted a labor trafficker who used debts, threats, abuse, and assaults to compel the victim’s unpaid labor for 10 hours a day, six to seven days a week, in the defendant’s North Carolina nail salon. The department also secured a life sentence and over $900,000 in restitution against a Texas sex trafficker who compelled women and girls to engage in commercial sex through violence, isolation, intimidation, and threats.
The department-wide approach to combating human trafficking extends beyond the prosecutions brought by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, to include interagency enforcement initiatives and strategic partnerships with global anti-trafficking allies. These efforts increasingly utilize specialized expertise in money laundering, financial crimes, and transnational organized crime to enhance investigations and prosecutions.
The FBI’s Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit develops innovative strategies on an ongoing basis to enhance detection and investigation of hidden human trafficking crimes. The Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, as the largest federal funding source for trafficking victim services, issued over 400 grants totaling over $270 million, enabling its grantees to serve 9,854 clients. In addition, the Office for Victims of Crime launched its Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center to assist local and tribal organizations in starting, sustaining, and expanding their anti-trafficking efforts. The department continues to to elevate the voices of courageous survivors, ensuring that their expertise and insights inform anti-trafficking efforts.
During this, the 10th annual National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to combatting the heinous crime of human trafficking, holding perpetrators accountable, and seeking justice for survivors.