TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced today that the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force has launched a new hotline for people to call to report suspected incidents of human trafficking in the state of New Jersey.
The new hotline – 1-855-END-NJ-HT (1-855-363-6548) – is easy to remember and serves as a constant reminder of New Jersey’s commitment to end human trafficking in the state. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by detectives in the Human Trafficking Unit within the Division of Criminal Justice.
Today’s announcement is part of a public outreach campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl in the Meadowlands. From now through the end of November, two billboards outside of MetLife stadium will promote the Division’s anti-trafficking/anti-demand campaign.
With the Super Bowl expected to bring an influx of thousands of people into New Jersey, the state will be at an increased vulnerability to human trafficking. New Jersey is already a prime location for domestic and international human trafficking because of its central location between the New York metropolitan area and the tri-state metropolitan region of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. It is the most densely populated state in the U.S. and has the third highest proportion of foreign born residents at nearly 20 percent.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that deprives its victims of their most basic right, their freedom,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “As the nation’s attention turns to the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, those of us in law enforcement will continue protecting people within our borders from the atrocities of human trafficking.”
“We hope that public vigilance will lead to referrals to the new hotline, which will in turn lead to additional investigations and prosecutions,” Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said. “The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to work hand-in-hand with its law enforcement partners to combat the heinous crime of human trafficking.”
Victims of human trafficking - men, women and children - are often exploited for the purpose of commercial sexual activity, including prostitution and pornography, as well as many types of forced labor, including domestic servitude and migrant agricultural work. Traffickers lure and control their victims through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, and employ techniques such as physical and psychological abuse, false employment offers, document holding, and isolation.
The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Tracy M. Thompson, trains and assists law enforcement in methods of identifying victims and signs of trafficking in order to disrupt and interdict this activity, coordinates statewide efforts in the identification and provision of services to victims of human trafficking and increases the successful interdiction and prosecution of trafficking of humans.
Officials saw a spike in calls to the Division of Criminal Justice in July, after the Division announced the arrests of a Lakewood man and four male associates on charges of human trafficking for allegedly operating brothels in Lakewood that were part of a network of brothels in New Jersey, New York and other states that trafficked women from Mexico to the United States to work as prostitutes. The alleged ringleader’s girlfriend also was arrested for assisting him in operating the brothels.
The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force will hold a Victim/Survivor Awareness Summit on Oct. 25 in Trenton to debunk common myths and raise awareness about human trafficking victims and survivors. This program will also address their needs, issues and concerns, and highlight the effective ways to resolve them. The New Jersey Task Force plans to hold several more outreach events ahead of the Feb. 2, 2014 Super Bowl.
Additional information about the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as indicators on how to identify human trafficking, can be found at www.njhumantrafficking.gov.