Human Trafficking Task Force Hosts Symposium To Discuss Strategy For Major Events

TRENTON – Law enforcement officials, state agency representatives, tourism executives, faith-based leaders and non-governmental organizations gathered today at a symposium to devise and implement a comprehensive, sustainable statewide anti-trafficking strategy for major public events such as the upcoming 2014 Super Bowl, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.

The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, which sponsored today’s symposium, trains and assists law enforcement in methods of identifying victims and signs of trafficking in order to disrupt and interdict this activity, coordinates statewide efforts in the identification and provision of services to victims of human trafficking and increases the successful interdiction and prosecution of trafficking of human persons.

“In the months ahead, the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force will continue to work closely with its partners in law enforcement, the tourist industry and other interested stakeholders to strengthen its already comprehensive, efficient anti-trafficking strategy,” Hoffman said. “As the eyes of the world are on New Jersey next February, we will be focused on protecting the people within our borders, including those vulnerable to human trafficking.”

With approximately seven months to go until New Jersey hosts the 2014 Super Bowl, the NJHTTF plans to use today’s symposium to continue to raise awareness among law enforcement, governmental entities and the private and public sectors about the dangers of human trafficking.

With the Super Bowl expected to bring an influx of thousands of people into New Jersey, the state will be at an increased vulnerability to human trafficking. New Jersey is already a prime location for domestic and international human trafficking because of its central location between the New York metropolitan area and the tri-state metropolitan region of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. It is the most densely populated state in the U.S. and has the third highest proportion of foreign born residents at nearly 20 percent.

From 2007 to 2011, 533 children from New Jersey were reported missing to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), including 34 children who were suspected or confirmed to be involved in prostitution. For the same period, NCMEC disseminated 3,725 cyber-tipline reports related to child sexual exploitation to New Jersey law enforcement. The FBI believes that pimps in northern New Jersey traffic child victims into New York and other cities for prostitution, and the Atlantic City area is targeted by criminals who exploit children because of the many visitors to the casino resorts. Statistics kept by the Division of Criminal Justice indicate 179 reported human trafficking victims from Sept. 16, 2005 to March 1, 2012, including 93 victims of labor trafficking, 60 of sex trafficking, and 26 of both labor and sex trafficking.

At today’s symposium, which was held at the New Jersey Regional Operations and Information Center in West Trenton, stakeholders discussed a coordinated response to sex trafficking at major events such as the Super Bowl and participated in workshops including: building relationships between law enforcement and non-governmental agencies; identifying and training human trafficking first responders; enlisting, engaging and managing community volunteers; and launching an effective community outreach campaign.

Hoffman was joined at today’s symposium by Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake, Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness Director Edward Dickson, First Assistant Attorney General Thomas R. Calcagni, Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael I. Halfacre, Juvenile Justice Commissioner Kevin M. Brown and several county prosecutors, as well as representatives from federal, state, county and local law enforcement and members of the tourism industry, faith-based leaders and other non-governmental organizations.

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