Thursday, February 22, 2007

US: Trafficking Victims in Plain Sight

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND -- They are kidnapped, branded and forced into prostitution. Or they are lured from their home countries to the U.S. with the promise of jobs as nannies and housekeepers and then, "once they get to the United States, it turns into quite a nightmare."

That's how Detective Sgt. Paul Liquorie of the Montgomery County Police Department's Vice and Intelligence section describes the typical path into human trafficking.

Liquorie says the victims come from all over the world, but are for the most part, women and children.

"We've seen young children. We have an active case now involving a 13-year-old."

In the case of domestics, they are often forced to work from dawn well into the evening, seven days a week. They are paid meager wages or nothing at all. Their documents are taken from them and they are virtually held captive, threatened with jail or deportation if they complain.

Those forced into prostitution often are brutalized before they get to the U.S. and are cowed into cooperating.

And they could be hidden in plain sight in your neighborhood.

"Makeshift brothels are often in the basements of houses or we find them in apartments. They're very transient, so they'll be set up for one week or one month in one apartment and then move to another apartment so as not to draw the attention of police or neighbors."

Liquorie says tips from neighbors who note lots of foot traffic at all hours of the day and night are often the triggers that lead to discovery and arrests.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WTOPNews.com

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