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Federal Government working toward preventing slavery and human trafficking

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Being aware of how you can help prevent human trafficking. A visit with a Special Agent with...
Being aware of how you can help prevent human trafficking. A visit with a Special Agent with the FBI.(WTVG)
Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 5:03 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - It is a violation the FBI and other law enforcement deal with every day across the nation. And as each new year dawns, the Federal Government and its agencies want to remind the public of the ongoing efforts to protect victims with their National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

In addition National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is January 11.

Supervisory Special Agent John Hallock with the Federal Bureau of Investigation spoke with News 2 about the problem here in Nebraska, and across the nation.

SSA Hallock says everyone can help stop slavery and human trafficking. He says the purpose of the month’s awareness is to look at proactive techniques in investigations. Saying that communication between law enforcement and partnerships in the private community are vital. Adding the importance of being “proactive,” rather than “reactive,” according to SSA Hallock, “including communication with schools, private organizations - from retail to tourism - to give basic tools and things to look for when it comes to human trafficking.”

In Nebraska, SSA Hallock says they see a lot of both labor and human trafficking in Nebraska. “We have an issue we address on a daily basis,” said SSA Hallock.

SSA Hallock explains that vulnerable persons, such as those who may have additions or broken home lives are “unfortunately” the victims of these crimes. “Predators like to groom individuals: provide gifts, provide money, things these people do not have in their ordinary lives,” he adds.

When asked if the people brought into these situations are trapped physically - unable to “get away,” SSA Hallock says, “very rarely do we have a case where an individual cannot escape,” saying that people are not “grabbed off the streets” and forced into human trafficking. “No, not in the human trafficking world. It takes some time. So for example, these people meet online, get comfortable, and eventually set up a time to physically meet, and then from that go on into the sexual exploitation.”

SSA Hallock says it is hard to stop these crimes when individuals believe it is the only way they can make a living. “Victimization can go on for a long time. It’s very hard to stop that.”

He tells News 2 that non-government and private organizations are paramount to the FBI’s success, providing a lot of resources for victims.

SSA Hallock says the biggest challenge for the FBI is getting a victim onboard, explaining and getting them to realize that they are being exploited.

Concerning adult servitude, he used the spa industry as an example, saying that many times people are brought through, and rotated from city to city (including Nebraska cities). “It is hard to keep up with. It is hard getting them [victims] to lay out the story for us. They are in fear of being assaulted, in fear of losing their jobs. They are in fear of being sent back to their country of origin.” He adds that the FBI hears the tragedies and stories of where some of the victims come from, saying sometimes the human slavery and trafficking is “better for them” than where they came from.

He wants people to know that people are not being snatched of the streets of Nebraska. SSA Hallock tells News 2 that the biggest thing is truly communication and paying attention to the people around us. “Be a parent, talk. Communicate,” he said.

Finally, he tells News 2 that they do solve many of these violations. And when they do it feels “fantastic.”

“When you have the opportunity to talk to a victim - to return that victim to the parent, and to see that reaction from the parents, and to hear from that parent that they didn’t think there was any way they would ever see that child again or get help for the child; and when you step in and do that that it what makes the job so bright. And when I look at these folks that do this day in and day out, what a select group of men and women who do this every day.”

Supervisory Special Agent John Hallock with the FBI

Approximately 90 percent of the FBI’s human trafficking cases involve sex trafficking and ten percent involve labor trafficking. At the end of 2020 the FBI had more than 1,800 pending human trafficking investigations.

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