87.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLaw Officers and Community Workers Learn Signs of Human Trafficking

Law Officers and Community Workers Learn Signs of Human Trafficking

July 29, 2008 — Alien smuggling is no secret in the Virgin Islands, but human trafficking often accompanies the smuggling of people over international borders.
A workshop Tuesday at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort taught how to identify and prosecute the crime, bringing together local and federal law enforcement agents as well as workers in legal and victims' services. The course will be repeated July 31 on St. Croix.
Raising awareness of human trafficking and how to spot its victims was at the center of reasons given by the U.S. Attorney's office for sponsoring the training.
Human trafficking amounts to modern-day slavery, involves compelled labor or services and exercises control over the victim. Traffickers often use a debt for smuggling to exploit victims, said Ernesto Fernandez, who facilitated the training.
"Alien smuggling is something we all have to deal with as far as law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Nelson L. Jones. "The person is trying to make better life. In human trafficking, it is more a type of slavery — where they are being held until a certain amount is paid back, or they [victims] are sent into the sex trade. It dehumanizes the person."
Jones is chief of the criminal division for the district of the Virgin Islands. The workshop, sponsored by Jones' division, will train more than 100 participants on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
"This training will let officers and community groups and people who deal with victims be able to identify the problem," Jones said.
Workshop attendees said that they had not run across human trafficking before.
"Information like this is good to have for knowledge for your own community," said Meuriel Adams, an intervention counselor in the Public Defender's Office. "You just don't know what you are dealing with."
Other attendees agreed, saying they might notice the signs of human trafficking on future investigations.
"This brings it to our awareness," said Collette Masom, a member of the Salvation Army, who attended the training.
While human trafficking is on the upswing worldwide, officials in the territory do not believe that it is much of an issue here, pointing out the size of the population and the difficulty for newcomers to go about unnoticed.
"In a community of this size, that is so close-knit, it is hard to blend in without somebody noticing," Jones said. "It is going to be harder to establish than in other larger communities where you can have secrecy and covertness."
Victims are hard to spot and hard to find. Participants in the workshop learned how to identify clues to human trafficking — a crime where the victims are often invisible, even to their closest neighbors.
About 80 percent of human-trafficking victims are women and children. Many are forced into the sex trade, sweat shops and agricultural jobs. Many are from impoverished backgrounds and are tempted to come to the United States to make a better life.
The United States is not alone as a destination for human trafficking; the Dominican Republic is also battling the crime, with increasing numbers of Haitian victims coming to its shores.
Once the victim is in the cycle, the exploitation process begins and victims are used for the sex trade or for cheap labor. Regular movement of victims is a red flag. The victim will likely be sold on to another trafficker, particularly those in the sex trade.
The process of victimization is unique, often involving a level of control that prevents them from helping themselves out of the situation.
Traffickers control their victims by keeping them isolated from contact with outsiders. Victims are also threatened with violence to themselves and to family they have left behind.
Signs of human trafficking can include: an isolated workforce that lives on or near its work site; barbed wire, bars or blacked-out windows; security to keep victims in; controlled communications and transportation; frequent movement of victims by the traffickers; large numbers of occupants living in limited space; and limited knowledge about how to get around in the community, according to Fernandez.
"Victims will have few possessions — no cell phones or calling cards," Fernandez said. The trafficker keeps the victim's passports and other documents.
Victims, fearful of the authorities, don't want to report the crime. Returning to their own communities afterward is often difficult, complicated by community mores and values.
"Their perception is they will be sent back to their country and they will not be welcomed back," Fernandez said.
For more information about the workshop, contact Antoinette James of the U.S. Attorney's office at 340-773-3920. For more information on human trafficking, click here.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
July 29, 2008 -- Alien smuggling is no secret in the Virgin Islands, but human trafficking often accompanies the smuggling of people over international borders.
A workshop Tuesday at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort taught how to identify and prosecute the crime, bringing together local and federal law enforcement agents as well as workers in legal and victims' services. The course will be repeated July 31 on St. Croix.
Raising awareness of human trafficking and how to spot its victims was at the center of reasons given by the U.S. Attorney's office for sponsoring the training.
Human trafficking amounts to modern-day slavery, involves compelled labor or services and exercises control over the victim. Traffickers often use a debt for smuggling to exploit victims, said Ernesto Fernandez, who facilitated the training.
"Alien smuggling is something we all have to deal with as far as law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Nelson L. Jones. "The person is trying to make better life. In human trafficking, it is more a type of slavery -- where they are being held until a certain amount is paid back, or they [victims] are sent into the sex trade. It dehumanizes the person."
Jones is chief of the criminal division for the district of the Virgin Islands. The workshop, sponsored by Jones' division, will train more than 100 participants on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
"This training will let officers and community groups and people who deal with victims be able to identify the problem," Jones said.
Workshop attendees said that they had not run across human trafficking before.
"Information like this is good to have for knowledge for your own community," said Meuriel Adams, an intervention counselor in the Public Defender's Office. "You just don't know what you are dealing with."
Other attendees agreed, saying they might notice the signs of human trafficking on future investigations.
"This brings it to our awareness," said Collette Masom, a member of the Salvation Army, who attended the training.
While human trafficking is on the upswing worldwide, officials in the territory do not believe that it is much of an issue here, pointing out the size of the population and the difficulty for newcomers to go about unnoticed.
"In a community of this size, that is so close-knit, it is hard to blend in without somebody noticing," Jones said. "It is going to be harder to establish than in other larger communities where you can have secrecy and covertness."
Victims are hard to spot and hard to find. Participants in the workshop learned how to identify clues to human trafficking -- a crime where the victims are often invisible, even to their closest neighbors.
About 80 percent of human-trafficking victims are women and children. Many are forced into the sex trade, sweat shops and agricultural jobs. Many are from impoverished backgrounds and are tempted to come to the United States to make a better life.
The United States is not alone as a destination for human trafficking; the Dominican Republic is also battling the crime, with increasing numbers of Haitian victims coming to its shores.
Once the victim is in the cycle, the exploitation process begins and victims are used for the sex trade or for cheap labor. Regular movement of victims is a red flag. The victim will likely be sold on to another trafficker, particularly those in the sex trade.
The process of victimization is unique, often involving a level of control that prevents them from helping themselves out of the situation.
Traffickers control their victims by keeping them isolated from contact with outsiders. Victims are also threatened with violence to themselves and to family they have left behind.
Signs of human trafficking can include: an isolated workforce that lives on or near its work site; barbed wire, bars or blacked-out windows; security to keep victims in; controlled communications and transportation; frequent movement of victims by the traffickers; large numbers of occupants living in limited space; and limited knowledge about how to get around in the community, according to Fernandez.
"Victims will have few possessions -- no cell phones or calling cards," Fernandez said. The trafficker keeps the victim's passports and other documents.
Victims, fearful of the authorities, don't want to report the crime. Returning to their own communities afterward is often difficult, complicated by community mores and values.
"Their perception is they will be sent back to their country and they will not be welcomed back," Fernandez said.
For more information about the workshop, contact Antoinette James of the U.S. Attorney's office at 340-773-3920. For more information on human trafficking, click here.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.