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Modern-Day Slavery: Recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

July 30, 2020

Today we recognize World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, an international effort to bring awareness and resources to human trafficking and the victims and their rights.

Fighting human trafficking is a priority for the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Attorney General Reyes. The Utah AG’s Office and the affiliated Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force and Utah SECURE Strike Force aggressively fight against human trafficking and in support of the victims through education campaigns, support of anti-human trafficking legislation, victim recovery, and advocacy. Additionally, AG investigators diligently investigate and arrest human traffickers, while AG prosecutors work to bring justice for the victims.

Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office reaffirms its commitment to proactively fight against human trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and bring justice and healing for victims.

Human Trafficking in Utah

“Are these things happening in the state of Utah? Absolutely,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said in an interview with KSL earlier this month. “How do we know? We have prosecuted many cases and we’re investigating even more cases as we speak — labor cases, sex cases, sexual exploitation and child pornography cases.”

Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, even in Utah. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide. The human trafficking industry is estimated to be a $150 billion per year industry.

Human trafficking can include sex trafficking, forced labor, illegal adoptions, and creating and selling child pornography. It is prevalent in Utah and each year the Utah Attorney General’s Office investigates and prosecutes human trafficking cases across Utah and works to bring help and healing to the victims in each case.

About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery and an egregious violation of human rights involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

By its nature, human trafficking is secretive, with traffickers using complex manipulative tactics such as force, fraud, or coercion to control their victims using “invisible ropes”, rather than the ropes, cages, and shipping containers generally portrayed in books and movies. This makes it difficult for victims to come forward as they might not even be aware they are being victimized, they fear retribution from their traffickers including danger to themselves and their families, and/or they may not have access to or control of their identification/personal documents.

Unfortunately, it is because of its secretive nature that human trafficking is difficult to detect. Therefore, it is imperative that you pay attention to those in your life and look for red flags. Read more about recognizing human trafficking here.

How You Can Help

  • Get Informed. Being informed is the most important thing that you can do. Educate youself and those around you on the common indicators of human trafficking and how to report it. If you can safely observe a suspicious situation, recognize the red flags, and report them to the proper authorities, you can make a difference.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to those around you and in your communities. Look out for one another and keep an eye out for evidence of human trafficking. Should you see behaviors that have indicators of human trafficking, report it immediately. Traffickers rely on the general public not asking questions, not recognizing the red flags, and simply looking the other way.
  • Support Anti-trafficking efforts. Whether it’s through volunteering at anti-trafficking organizations, hosting an awareness-raising event, or discussing your concerns with your state representatives, your support and efforts will make a difference.
  • Report Human Trafficking. If you see something, say something.

Reporting Human Trafficking

If you encounter a situation that has indicators of human trafficking, contact your local law enforcement, let our investigators know, or contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 

801-200-3443

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 

1-888-3737-888

Text “Help” or “Info” to 233733

Additionally, you can reach the hotline by email: Report@PolarisProject.org


Additional Hotline

National Runaway Safeline:

1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929)

Text: 66008

Visit their website here: https://www.1800runaway.org/


For more information on human trafficking, visit:

Polaris Project here.

Human Trafficking Hotline here.

Blue Campaign here.

Register for the 2020 Human Trafficking Symposium

January 15, 2020

The Utah Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force, along with the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Social Justice Student Initiative (SJSI), invite you to attend the annual Human Trafficking Symposium on January 24, 2020.

The Symposium will feature Julie Dahlstrom, JD, Director of Boston University Law’s Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program as a keynote speaker, a panel, and breakout sessions about human trafficking in Utah including perspectives from attorneys, case managers, law enforcement, and medical providers based around this year’s theme of a victim-centered approach.

The event is free or $12 for a lunch option. University students, faculty, and staff are free with proof of university ID.

Registration is required: http://bit.ly/SJQHTS2020

Click here to download the 2020 Human Trafficking Symposium Agenda

4.5 hours of Utah CLE (pending).

Paid parking is available at Rice-Eccles Stadium by purchasing a day pass. We encourage you to use public transportation to our events. Take TRAX University line to the Stadium stop and walk a half block north. For other public transit options use UTA’s Trip Planner. The law school is on the Red Route for the University’s free campus shuttles (College of Law stop).

For questions about the event contact Haylee (801) 587-7890.

Get Involved for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January 11, 2020

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and today, January 11, is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. As of this moment, there are dozens of people in Utah and thousands across the nation who are suffering the physical and mental anguish of being imprisoned in plain sight.

The human trafficking industry generates approximately $150 billion each year and has an estimated 40.3 million victims world-wide, even in the State of Utah.

Human trafficking is a pervasive and horrific violation of human rights that strips victims of innocence, hope, and dignity. Men, women, and children of any sexual orientation, race, gender, nationality, and from all backgrounds and communities – urban or rural – are trafficked each year.

Traffickers use a number of ways to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sex, including force, fraud, or coercion. They may use violence, manipulation, or false promises of a romantic relationship or a well-paying job. Traffickers use “invisible ropes” that involve complex manipulative tactics to control their victims, despite the popular portrayal in books and movies that traffickers use handcuffs, chains, cages, and locked rooms. A victim’s trauma may be so great that they may not identify as a victim and will not ask for help. Language barriers, fear of traffickers, and fear of law enforcement may prevent a victim from speaking out.

Human trafficking is a fast-growing, transnational epidemic. The Utah Attorney General’s Office through its Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force and SECURE Strike Force, along with many partner agencies, aggressively fight against trafficking in all its forms. In 2018, the Utah Attorney General’s Office conducted 49 human trafficking investigations, prosecuted 8 cases, and served 44 victims. Utah has made great strides to combat trafficking and was recently ranked among the top in the nation for its dedication to the fight against minor sex trafficking. Despite this, there is still much work to be done.

The AG’s Office invites Utahns this January to get involved. Learn the signs of human trafficking and how to report it here. Register for the free Annual UTIP Human Trafficking Symposium by the AG’s Office at the University of Utah on January 24, to learn about human trafficking from the perspective of attorneys, case managers, law enforcement, and medical providers. Utahns can also report tips regarding human trafficking to the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

The AG’s Office would like to thank our partners in the fight against human trafficking:

  • Adult Probation and Parole/Department of Corrections
  • Backyard Broadcast
  • Bountiful Police Department
  • Children’s Justice Center
  • Davis County Sheriff’s Office
  • Division of Child and Family Services
  • The Department of Justice
  • Department of Public Safety/Utah Statewide Information and Analysis Center
  • doTerra
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations-Salt Lake City
  • Fight the New Drug
  • Homeland Security Investigations- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Juvenile Justice Services
  • Malouf Foundation
  • Ogden Police Department
  • Operation Underground Railroad
  • Orem Police Department
  • Park City Police Department
  • Refugee & Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah
  • Restoring Ancestral Winds
  • Safe Harbor
  • Salt Lake City Police Department
  • SHEROES United
  • South Valley Services
  • The Road Home
  • Unified Police Department
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service
  • Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault
  • Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic
  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Utah Legal Services
  • Utah Office for Victims of Crime
  • Various professionals from the medical community
  • West Jordan Police Department
  • West Valley Police Department
  • West Wendover Police Department
  • YCC Family Crisis Center
  • 3 Strands Global Foundation
  • 4th Street Clinic

Utah Gets an ‘A’ for Fighting Child Sex Trafficking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2019
 

UTAH GETS AN ‘A’ FOR FIGHTING CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING
Shared Hope International Scores Enforcement Standards of Protection for Minors
 

SALT LAKE CITY – The State of Utah is now ranked among the top in the nation for its dedication to the fight against minor sex trafficking, according to Shared Hope International. See Utah’s report card here.  

In its yearly rankings, Utah received an ‘A’ for its dedication and strength of the state’s laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2011, Utah received an ‘F’. The amount of progress is due to many factors and dedicated partners, including the tireless efforts of Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, the Attorney General SECURE Strike Force, the ICAC Task Force, the UTIP Task Force, legislation passed by the Utah Legislature and the dedication and commitment of the Governor’s office.

“Combatting human trafficking is an absolute priority for our office,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “There are incredible, dedicated people who work hard every day as part of this effort, and that work is far from over. We will continue to do everything we can to fight this heinous activity.” 

Every year, Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating minor sex trafficking, releases report cards for each state in the nation with a grade based on the strength of their laws related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Grades are based on an annual review of state laws as analyzed under the Protected Innocence Challenge Legislative Framework.

States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:

  • Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking 
  • Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
  • Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
  • Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
  • Protective Provisions for Child Victims 
  • Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution

Shared Hope International is a non-profit organization that works to prevent sex trafficking and to bring justice to women and children who have been victimized through sex trafficking. 
 

# # #

Utah AG’s Office Obtains Convictions Against Human Trafficker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2019
 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OBTAINS CONVICTIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKER JAMES SAVAGE BROWN
Women shared stories of assault, abuse, and forced sexual exploitation


SALT LAKE CITY – On Thursday, August 29, 2019 a Third District Court Jury convicted James Savage Brown on multiple felony charges-including aggravated human trafficking-against two women. The Utah Attorney General’s office SECURE Section investigated and prosecuted the case and worked for more than a year to obtain the conviction. 

Brown was convicted of the following charges:

  • Aggravated Human Trafficking for Forced Sexual Exploitation
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution
  • Tampering with a Witness

A pre-sentence report has been requested and sentencing has been scheduled for October 21st at 1:30 pm. AG Special Agents learned of Brown’s activity last year from one of the victims. S.S., after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, S.S. encountered another woman, J.M., who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Investigators later learned that J.S. had previously reported her encounter with Brown to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Both women told stories of manipulation and coercion, including exploiting drug dependency, threatened or actual physical abuse, fear for their lives, and repeated attempts and/or success in forced prostitution by Brown.

Collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office and the Salt Lake City Police Department was instrumental in identifying the victims and corroboration the victims’ reports. Once identified, the two victims received counseling and other services through a partner agency of the Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force, The Refugee and Immigrant Center—Asian Association of Utah.

“I am very proud of my team of investigators, prosecutors and victim advocates including Russell Smith, Tye Christensen, Michelle Rasmussen, and Ruthie Pedregon for their hard work and professionalism in obtaining justice for the women are survivors of James Savage Brown’s crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “We are also relieved that the victims are safe and receiving the best resources we have at our disposal. Human trafficking is a despicable crime that we in the Utah AGO are deeply committed to combat with aggressive investigations and prosecutions.”

The Attorney General’s SECURE Strike force executed the investigation and arrest. SECURE is tasked by the Utah Legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations, including human trafficking.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.


# # #


 NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the charging documents and probable cause statement here:  https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/James-Brown-Savage.pdf.
  2. Read more about the AG’s SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/secure-task-force/.
  3. You can find more information on the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking/.

In the News: Sex Trafficking Victim Speaks Out

March 18, 2019

Last Wednesday, Joseph Moore was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking a 16-year-old child and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution. You can read the full press release here: Man Sentenced to Consecutive Terms of Life in Prison for Sex Trafficking a Child.

Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong had the opportunity to visit with Brittany Johnson of ABC 4 News Friday to discuss sex trafficking and the responsibility adults have to protect and help children.

“Adults throughout society, we have a responsibility to children. If we find a child in a desperate situation that’s having a hard time, it’s our responsibility to help that child. The worst thing you can do is see a child in that position and think, “here’s a way I can make a buck.” And that’s what the defendant did in this case,” said Strong.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, report it to Utah law enforcement at 801-200-3443 or to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

Human Trafficking Awareness

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The Utah Attorney General’s Office, in partnership with the Trafficking in Persons Program, Refugee & Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, and the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force, will present a series of commentaries to educate and engage the public on the realities and complex dynamics of human trafficking.

Recognizing and Reporting

Human trafficking, by its criminal nature, is secretive. Traffickers use “invisible ropes” involving complex manipulative tactics to control their victims. If human trafficking in Utah doesn’t typically involve the use of handcuffs, chains, cages, locked rooms, or shipping containers that books and movies might use to portray the subject, how can we recognize it?

 First, before addressing the red flags which may indicate human trafficking and what someone observing red flags can do, remember Rule #1: Keep yourself safe. Do not place yourself in danger. Never confront a suspected trafficker.

If you can safely observe a suspicious situation, recognize the red flags, and report them to the proper authorities, you can make a difference. Most of the successful human trafficking cases prosecuted through the Attorney General’s office have started with a tip from a concerned citizen.

There are a number of red flags that, in and of themselves, may not be too sinister. But as the red flags pile up, they may begin to indicate a trafficking situation. Pay particular attention to any situation where:

  • A person is recruited for work with grand and unlikely promises;
  • A person works excessive hours for little or no pay;
  • A person exhibits signs of untreated illness or injuries;
  • A person is not in control of his or her identification, immigration, or travel documents;
  • A person exchanges sex to meet basic needs, e.g., food, clothing, or shelter;
  • A person’s behavior appears to be controlled or fearful;
  • A younger person travels with an older boyfriend or companion who seems particularly watchful or controlling;
  • A person suddenly acquires expensive and/or revealing clothing, jewelry, or electronics, without explanation for how they obtained the products;
  • A person’s communication is restricted and she or he is unable to speak separately or alone;
  • A person owes money to her or his employer;
  • A person says they “can’t quit” their job because of fear of some great harm, such as deportation;
  • A person demonstrates sudden changes in behavior.

These red flags are not uncommon. Any given day we could encounter someone we suspect might be a victim of human trafficking—either for labor or sexual exploitation—while we are at a park, at the mall, on a bus or train, or even at school. If it can be done safely, consider asking some questions that will elicit helpful information without appearing to be inquiring about human trafficking. Ask about where they are from, where they live now, or with whom they live. If they are traveling with a suspicious companion, ask how they met. If they have tattoos—which can be used to brand or identify a trafficker’s victims—ask about them, what do they mean, when did they get them, what’s the story behind them.

If the conversation proceeds to uncover additional red flags, and circumstances permit—remember not to place yourself in danger or ask too specific of questions while a suspected trafficker is within hearing range—move to deeper, more targeted questions.  Ask if they have ever been forced to do work that they did not want to do, or if they have ever worked in a place where the work was different from what they were promised it would be. Ask if anyone takes all or part of the money they earn. Has anyone threatened them or their family? Are they in possession of their identification and travel documents, or does someone else have control over those documents? Has anyone ever taken photos of them and put them on the internet?  Have they ever exchanged sex for food, shelter, drugs, or money? Ask if they feel trapped in their situation. 

Traffickers rely on the general public not asking questions, not recognizing the red flags, and simply looking the other way. Simple conversation with someone we might suspect is a victim of human trafficking can provide valuable insights into the situation. Details and red flags identified from a conversation can then be passed on to law enforcement officers who can further investigate and determine whether human trafficking is taking place. 


On January 22nd we’ll host a lunchtime panel discussion – Brown Bag: Human Trafficking 101. Please join us as we cover more information on the topic of recognizing and reporting human trafficking. Watch our Facebook page for details.


To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

UTIP conference focuses on victim aftermath

Local and national experts shared with over 300 people during the 2018 Utah Trafficking in Persons Conference held Monday, September 10th. Among the attendees this year were service providers, law enforcement officers, collaborative partners, prosecutors, court staff, trafficking survivors, community members, and many others.

This year the conference focused on recognizing and using protective factors for victims in the aftermath of trafficking as well as address common complications with human trafficking cases. The conference hosted several experts from law enforcement, the medical field, behavioral health, and more to address best practices in Utah that benefit every field or specialized interest.

“The people on the panel were great, spoke the truth about issues and shared deeply felt feelings with us. Having survivor’s voices at the table is so needed. Good job!!” – Attendee comment

Poetry, art exhibits, and live presentations by trafficking survivors gave the audience a clear understanding of why outreach, case management, treatment, and long-term self-sufficiency services are critical for those who’ve been exploited in our communities. 

“I really like the honesty from Dr. Halleh [Seddighzadeh] when she said that healing is messy (meaning the road can be rough, but progress is progress) and we have a lot of work to do to help survivors and victims feel safe!” – Attendee comment

AG Reyes welcomed the attendees and their hard work in the fight against human trafficking in Utah with the following sentiments: 

Good4Utah was on site to cover the event. You can watch and read more here: Conference helps support victims of human trafficking in Utah

Photo: Youth human trafficking survivor, Sol, shares her story at the 2018 UTIP Conference.

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