AG Gansler Urges Congress to Fund Anti-Human Trafficking Programs
Resources are needed at state and federal level to fight growing criminal trade
Baltimore, MD (December 17, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, joined by 46 other state and territorial attorneys general, is urging Congress to fund the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Established in 2000, the TVPRA greatly increased America's efforts worldwide to protect human trafficking victims, assist survivors, improve prevention methods and successfully prosecute human traffickers. The original legislation established human trafficking as a federal crime.
"The toll in human suffering from this form of slavery is immeasurable and we need these resources to fight it at every level," said Attorney General Gansler. "We respectfully ask Congress to continue to fund this effort that will help us rescue and assist the victims while we work to investigate and prosecute those who profit from human trafficking."
Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, equal in size to arms trafficking. Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or other areas of the sex industry. Trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work.
Quoting from the Attorneys General letters to Congress:
"Human trafficking is tied as the second largest and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $32 billion each year. According to a study of Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83% of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens. Shockingly, the average age that U.S. children are first used in commercial sex is 12 to 14. Victims often experience severe trauma that requires intensive therapy. Due to the complexity and resource-intensive nature of human trafficking cases, law enforcement and victim services in the U.S. are in tremendous need of funding to support the fight against human trafficking."
Attorney General Gansler is a co-founder of the statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, which set up roving operations to identify victims and traffickers, deputized local law enforcement to assist in federal human trafficking investigations, provided training for law enforcement officers and reached out to persons who might be victimized by traffickers.
Starting in 2010, Attorney General Gansler sought to ensure that Backpage.com was removing from the adult-oriented pages on its site, any advertising for sex trafficking that, in some cases, involved minors. Dozens of criminal cases in multiple states have involved the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors, allegedly through Backpage.com. A pending criminal case in the District of Columbia allegedly entangles underage prostitutes as young as 16 whose services were reportedly sold through Backpage.com by their pimp.
In 2008, Attorney General Gansler joined 41 other state attorneys general in forcing Craigslist to crack down on illegal ads that promoted human trafficking. That effort led to Craigslist shutting down its "erotic services" section in May 2009.
In a multi-year effort, Attorney General Gansler has joined with members of the Maryland General Assembly in support of legislation to help law enforcement and prosecutors go after criminals who traffic in human labor and sexual exploitation.
Recent anti-human trafficking laws that passed the Maryland General Assembly and were signed into law with the support of Attorney General Gansler include:
HB 713 (2013) - Seizure and Forfeiture - Property used in Human Trafficking
HB 933 (2013) - Human Trafficking of Minor - Defense of Ignorance of Victim's Age
HB 345 (2011) - Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance - Investigation of Human Trafficking
HB 1322 (2010) - National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Information
SB 261 (2010) - Criminal Law - Human Trafficking - Prohibitions
To read the complete letters to Congress visit: