Human Trafficking Session Cites Challenges, Responses

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing and profitable criminal enterprises in the world and Maryland is not immune. In the session Human Trafficking: Channeling Human Services to Challenging Populations, moderated by the Honorable Kriselda Valderramma, Maryland House of Delegates, attendees learned about human trafficking as well as the challenges and different approaches to providing assistance and services to the victims.

Investigative Journalist Christine Dolan set the stage with background information on the history of human trafficking, the eight faces of human trafficking and the global scope of the problem. Faces of human trafficking include: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, child soldiers, sex tourism, internet pedo-criminality, organ trafficking, skin trafficking and ritual abuse torture. Ms. Dolan also discussed human trafficking on the Eastern Shore and work done in partnership with Detective Milton Orellana, Easton Maryland Department of Police and the Eastern Shore Human Trafficking Task Force. Ms. Dolan talked about trafficking of children, which is a multi-billion dollar business through the internet. She is co-founder of the Children in Slaver Task Force and in June hosted a Hope for Healing Retreat on the Eastern Shore designed to help child victims heal. The retreat was the first of its kind in the United States, however they have been holding such retreats in Europe and South America in conjunction with Innocence in Danger for 10 years.

Human Trafficking Policy Advisor and Special Assistant to the  US Attorney Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Amanda Rodriguez, presented on the breadth of human trafficking in Maryland and programs in place by the State to assist victims and catch traffickers. Ms. Rodriguez shared statistics on domestic trafficking and the life of a sex trafficked victim as well as what the Department of Juvenile Services, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Maryland State Police are doing to find victims of trafficking and get them in touch with services. One of the challenges cited was the lack of victim services for Asian women. These victims are usually older in age and trafficked into the state through New York.

Michael Lyles, Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission and Chair of the county’s Human Trafficking Task Force, discussed the history and structure of the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force helps ensure cooperation among county departments in addressing human trafficking, implements public awareness campaigns, and has advocates for stronger laws with harsher penalties. A Task Force report issued several recommendations including funding to continue operations of the Task Force; the establishment and funding of a county victim crisis center; mandated county-wide uniform data collection, sharing and public safety protocols; and legislation authorizing civil enforcement of trafficking.