New Task Force Targets Human Trafficking

New Task Force Targets Human Trafficking

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A day at the beach but someone is watching. "These traffickers know our children better than we do."

 A conversation at a vulnerable moment is all it takes to become a victim of human trafficking. "By fraud or coercion or force that someone is forced into either labor, trafficking, a term of bondage or someone is forced to perform sexual acts in the commercial trade," says U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown.

So far, cases have proven hard to investigate, traffickers even harder to catch according to Brown. "They actually take these women on a circuit, from city to city so even when law enforcement goes to follow up in a certain place, they're no longer there."

The focus is on South Alabama, both Mobile and Baldwin counties where according to Homeland Security there is a significant population of human trafficking victims.

"One of the ladies told me recently, I want to be normal. Does that exist for someone like me?" Donna Armstrong runs a shelter for victims of trafficking called Hope Haven. "They are very sad. They are very afraid and they have been beaten and tortured and they deserve better."

Traffickers operate in the shadows using drugs, threats and promises to control their victims. "Trafficking is not a respecter of economics, race. It targets opportunities. It is a business. It is about money," says Armstrong, and it's the target of a law enforcement task force now focused on South Alabama.

While no arrests have been made in the local area, Homeland Security reports arrests have tripled in Alabama over the last year.

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