Phase II Will Build on Momentum of Highly Effective Phase I to Further Enhance Interagency Anti-Trafficking Efforts
WASHINGTON — The Departments of Justice, Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced the launch of Phase II of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative aimed at streamlining federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses.
Phase II ACTeams will be convened in up to six selected districts around the country, following a competitive, nationwide, interagency selection process.
The ACTeams, comprised of federal prosecutors and investigators representing multiple federal enforcement agencies, will implement a joint strategic action plan to develop high-impact federal investigations and prosecutions, vindicate the rights of human trafficking victims, bring traffickers to justice and dismantle human trafficking networks.
“Human traffickers prey on some of the most
vulnerable members of our society to exploit them for labor, for sex and for servitude of all kinds,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Their crimes, appropriately described as modern-day slavery, have no place in a nation that has overcome the scourge of slavery. That’s why the Department of Justice is committed — and I am personally determined — to hold human traffickers accountable, provide support to trafficking survivors, and stand up for the rights and the dignity that they deserve.”
“Labor trafficking affects workers who are vulnerable to exploitation for a number of reasons, who may not know their workplace rights, and may be afraid to raise their voices,” said Secretary Thomas E. Perez of DOL. “The challenges we face as a nation and a government demand unprecedented levels of interagency collaboration. Through these ACTeams, we’re bringing our respective departments’ collective resources and expertise to bear, building a whole even greater than the sum of our individual parts. DOL will remain a vigorous and unfaltering partner during Phase II. Together we can ensure workers receive the wages they’ve earned, restore victims’ basic human rights and bring traffickers to justice.”
“The ACTeam Initiative has been an important tool in our collective ability to combat sex trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude here in the United States,” said Secretary Jeh Johnson of DHS. “This is not a problem that we can afford to ignore which is why, under a banner of shared responsibility and collaboration, the Departments of Justice, Labor and Homeland Security are recommitting ourselves to the fight against human trafficking by expanding the ACTeam Initiative. Through the unified voice of the Blue Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security will continue to combat human trafficking through the guiding philosophy that we are at our best when we work together.”
These departments collaborated to develop the ACTeam Initiative to streamline rapidly expanding human trafficking enforcement efforts, focusing on forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud and coercion. Project Safe Childhood and the Innocence Lost National Initiative continue to focus on sex trafficking of minors and sexual exploitation of minors.
Drawing together federal prosecutors and federal agents from multiple investigative agencies, ACTeams streamline coordination on the front lines of federal human trafficking investigations and prosecutions, while also enhancing collaboration between front-line enforcement efforts and national human trafficking subject matter experts in the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys and FBI Civil Rights Unit, DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division and the Office of the Inspector General. In 2011, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of DHS and DOL announced Phase I of the ACTeam Initiative and the designation of six Phase I Pilot ACTeam sites in Atlanta; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; and Miami, following a rigorous interagency selection process.
During the ACTeam Phase I period, Fiscal Years 2012-2013, federal human trafficking prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking and sex trafficking of adults rose by 35 percent nationwide, reflecting strong partnerships among U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental victim assistance organizations and task forces led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.
The ACTeams played a significant role in leading these nationwide advances. In ACTeam Districts, prosecutions of forced labor, international sex trafficking and adult sex trafficking rose even more markedly than they did nationally, due to the force-multiplier effect of interagency commitment to implementing coordinated, joint anti-trafficking strategies and due to advanced training, expertise and operational support provided to the Phase I ACTeams. Comparing federal forced labor, international sex trafficking and adult sex trafficking prosecutions during the ACTeam Phase I period of Fiscal Years 2012-2013, to the pre-Phase I period of Fiscal Years 2010-2011:
Cases filed increased by:
• 119 percent in ACTeam Districts,
• 18 percent in non-ACTeam Districts; and
• 35 percent nationwide.
Defendants charged increased by:
• 114 percent in ACTeam Districts,
• 12 percent in non-ACTeam Districts; and
• 28 percent nationwide.
Defendants convicted increased by:
• 86 percent in ACTeam Districts,
• 14 percent in non-ACTeam Districts; and
• 26 percent nationwide.