|In the lead up to the Super Bowl, law enforcement officials have been seeing an increase in the forced prostitution that often accompanies major sporting events. The Christie Administration has been taking comprehensive action to help combat this problem by increasing awareness through training and outreach programs:
- Working with the Division of Criminal Justice, the FBI, and county and municipal law enforcement, the New Jersey State Police has drafted a comprehensive law enforcement operation plan for investigating and prosecuting Human Trafficking at the Super Bowl;
- The Human Trafficking Task Force has met with law enforcement officials from prior Super Bowl host cities, including New Orleans and Indianapolis, to discuss the nature and scope of the problem;
- A 24-hour hotline (1-855-END-NJ-HT) for the general public to report potential trafficking cases, and provide victims with a means to report their traffickers to law enforcement, has been established, as well as a web site which provides information on trafficking outreach and education programs and online training for the thousands of volunteers who are scheduled to attend Super Bowl XLVIII.
Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry affecting more than 12.3 million people across the world. It is a real problem in our country today that knows no boundaries, and impacts people of all ages, races and ethnicities.
Even before the Super Bowl, New Jersey is a prime location for domestic and international human trafficking, with its large population and proximity to New York City. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the U.S. and has the third highest proportion of foreign born residents at nearly 20 percent.
Since September 2005, 193 cases of human trafficking have been reported to the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, including 93 victims trafficked for labor, 74 for sex, and 26 for both labor and sex trafficking.
According to a 2013 study from the Polaris Project, an organization that ranks human trafficking laws, New Jersey is one of only two states with “perfect scores” with tough laws that punish traffickers and support survivors.
Governor Christie made the crime of child exploitation a key priority, dating back to his days as U.S. Attorney. In fact, two of the largest pornography cases during this time originated in New Jersey under his watch:
- The case against Belarus-based company Regpay Ltd., the operator of nearly 50 child pornography websites, which resulted in 1,500 arrests worldwide; and
- Operation Emissary, another child pornography case that led to more than 350 prosecutions in the United States alone.
Over the last four years, Governor Christie and his Administration have acted aggressively to combat and prevent human trafficking, including:
- Issuing A Human Trafficking Directive. In July 2012, Governor Christie directed the Attorney General to increase investigations and prosecutions of sex- and labor-related human trafficking crimes in New Jersey. This statewide directive also created a Human Trafficking Unit within the Division of Criminal Justice dedicated solely to combating trafficking and training law enforcement how best to deal with it.
- Signing Bipartisan Human Trafficking Legislation. In May 2013, Governor Christie signed the bipartisan “Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act” that increases penalties for and provides additional resources to prevent human trafficking. It also establishes a “Human Trafficking Survivor’s Assistance Fund” to help victims, promote awareness, and develop training and educational materials.
- Raising Awareness With Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Beyond signing new laws, Governor Christie also signed legislation officially making January “Human Trafficking Prevention Month” and January 11th as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day.” Making people aware of this very real problem is an important step in combating it.
- Establishing A Human Trafficking Task Force. In late 2012, the Administration established a statewide task force to bring together state prosecutors and law enforcement officers to combat and prevent human trafficking.
- Creating A Human Trafficking Hotline, Website, and Ad Campaign. The Human Trafficking Task Force set up a toll-free hotline (1-855-END-NJ-HT) that is staffed 24 hours per day to receive tips from the public and provide victim services. A web site (www.njhumantrafficking.gov) has also been created to provide information to the public about education programs, the HT hotline and recent HT arrests and prosecutions.
- Providing Support For Victims. The Attorney General recently obtained a $350,000 grant to provide care for human trafficking victims, including long-term housing, mental health services and legal services.
The Governor recently joined Mrs. Cindy McCain for a discussion on combating the horrific practice at the McCain Institute in Phoenix. Mrs. McCain serves as the co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.