At a “summit” at the Justice Department, officials touted convictions of a record 526 defendants in trafficking cases including Backpage.com, but acknowledged more needed to be done to curtail a global practice that was often hidden “in a wide range of settings.”
“We need more innovative strategies to detect [human trafficking] it so that we can stop it,” Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told a “summit” on the problem sponsored Tuesday by the Justice Department.
Rosen said human trafficking overlaps with other crimes, including drug trafficking, gang crimes, money laundering, and human smuggling. He said trafficking “is hidden in a very wide range of settings, from local and transnational commercial sex enterprises, to sweatshops and fields across the U.S., all the way to global supply chains of major multinational corporations.”
Rosen noted that some analysts “say we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem, the fact is that a human trafficker who remains at large can and will find other victims.”
Rosen highlighted last year’s conviction in Burlington, Vt., of Brian Folks of 13 federal felonies arising from a violent sex and drug trafficking enterprise that sold heroin and forced young, drug-addicted women to engage in commercial sex.
For almost four years, Folks targeted young, vulnerable women who were either addicted to drugs or homeless, Rosen said.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband told the summit that in fiscal year 2018, DOJ won a record number of convictions against 526 defendants in human-trafficking prosecutions. He cited the takedown of Backpage.com, the internet’s leading source of prostitution-related advertisements that resulted in the sex trafficking of minors and adults.
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