Human trafficking is a transnational crime whose victims include men, women, and children and may involve violations of labor, immigration, antislavery, and other criminal laws.
To ensure punishment of traffickers and protection of victims, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), which is subject to reauthorization in 2007. The Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) lead federal investigations and prosecutions of trafficking crimes.
The Government Accountability Office reviewed strategies, reports, and other agency documents; analyzed trafficking data; and interviewed agency officials and task force members.
Since the enactment of the TVPA in 2000, federal agencies have investigated allegations of trafficking crimes, leading to 139 prosecutions;provided training and implemented state and local initiatives to support investigations and prosecutions; and established organizational structures, agency-level goals, plans, or strategies.
For example, agencies have trained new and current personnel on investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons crimes through their agency training academies and centers, provided Web-based training, and developed and disseminated guidance on case pursuance. Agencies have also sponsored outreach and training to state and local law enforcement, nongovernmental organizations, and the general public through a toll-free complaint line, newsletters, national conferences, and model legislation.
Finally, some agencies have established special units or plans for carrying out their antitrafficking duties. Federal agencies have coordinated across agencies on investigations and prosecutions of trafficking crimes on a case-by-case basis, determined by individual case needs, and established relationships among law enforcement officials across agencies.
For example, several federal agencies worked together to resolve a landmark trafficking case involving over 250 victims. However, DOJ and DHS officials have identified the need to advance and expand U.S. efforts to combat trafficking through more collaborative and proactive strategies to identify trafficking victims.
Prior GAO work on interagency collaboration has shown that a strategic framework that includes, among other things, a common outcome, mutually reinforcing strategies, and compatible polices and procedures to operate across agency boundaries can help enhance and sustain collaboration among federal agencies dealing with issues that are national in scope and cross agency jurisdictions.
To support U.S. efforts to investigate trafficking in persons, the Bureau of Justice Assistance has awarded grants of up to $450,000 to establish 42 state and local human trafficking law enforcement task forces.
BJA has funded the development of a train-the-trainer curriculum and a national conference on human trafficking and taken further steps to respond to task force technical assistance needs.
Nevertheless, task force members from the seven task forces we contacted and DOJ officials identified continued and additional assistance needs. BJA does not have a technical assistance plan for its human trafficking task force grant program.
Prior GAO work has shown the need for agencies that administer grants or funding to state and local entities to implement a plan to focus technical assistance on areas of greatest need. BJA officials said they were preparing a plan to provide additional and proactive technical assistance to the task forces, but as of June 2007 had not received the necessary approvals.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.