CLEARWATER POLICE GET HUMAN TRAFFICKING GRANT by Roxanne Escobales

10/03/06

This past June with the bust of a brothel, the Clearwater Police Department announced with certainty what it suspected for some time-- that human trafficking does indeed happen right here in the Bay area. Today US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez announced that Clearwater was awarded 450-thousand dollars in federal funding to create an area task force to fight human trafficking, the first of its kind in the area.

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CPD Deputy Chief Dewey Williams says human trafficking investigations differ from that of traditional crime. He spoke to WMNF from New Orleans, where he is attending the National Conference on Human Trafficking.

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Clearwater is one of ten communities awarded part of 8 million dollars handed out by the US Department of Justice to fight human trafficking. The money will be used to pay for two additional detectives specifically to investigate human trafficking crimes. All CPD police will receive training in human trafficking, and the police will launch a public information campaign starting with an October 17th workshop. Williams says that informing the public of this hidden crime is essential as it’s difficult to identify.

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The other common type of human trafficking is forced labor. The most known form of this is the forced labor of migrant farmers. But it can take place in other industries where there is a need for a cheap labor.

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It is estimated that every year in the U-S almost 18 thousand people are forced into prostitution, working in sweatshop-like conditions and domestic servitude. Most of these victims of human trafficking are women and children. During his speech today at the National Conference on Human Trafficking, Attorney General Gonzalez said – quote – “for this vile practice to be taking place in a country that the world looks to as a beacon of freedom is a terrible irony and an utter tragedy.�

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