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Federal Government Targets Human Trafficking in Western New York

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is creating a Human Trafficking Task Force in Western New York. During an appearance in Buffalo yesterday, Gonzales said the task force will receive $900,000 in federal funding to assist victims of human trafficking and to prosecute those responsible for the crime.

Gonzales describes human trafficking as modern day slavery. Gonzales says no region is immune. In 2004, he said the Justice Department shut down a forced labor operation involving Mexican field workers at an Albion pumpkin farm.

Because of its geographic location, Gonzales said this area played an important role in rescuing the victims of human trafficking dating back to the days of the Underground Railroad. Today, those same geographic factors -- our border location and the resulting large influx of seasonal workers -- makes this region susceptible to human trafficking.

US Attorney in the Western Region, Terrance Flynn, says the International Institute of Buffalo is partnering with law enforcement agencies on the Task Force to make sure the needs of victims are met.

The funds will be used to train first responders to identify victims of human trafficking and to assist victims in becoming material witnesses in the prosecution of perpetrators.

The Justice Department says its investigations into human trafficking have quadrupled over the past five years.

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