The massive movement of unaccompanied children from Central America across our southern border has the potential for massive exploitation and trafficking of those children. All these unaccompanied children are extremely vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked both in the U.S. and on their way to our border for sex trafficking and sex tourism. There's good news, however. Last July, a nationwide sex trafficking bust resulted in more than 100 victims rescued and more than 150 arrested, 70 of whom were from Jersey City, Atlantic City, and Fairfield, NJ. More rescues and arrests were done in the run-up to the Super Bowl in northern N.J. and NYC earlier this year. HSI has identified 552 victims of child sex exploitation so far in 2014. Last week 70 people in NY were arrested for producing and distributing child abuse imagery. In the past few weeks, 16 of 17 defendants in a May 23, 2014 sex trafficking indictment pled guilty in federal court in NYC and agreed to forfeit more than $1.7 million. They received various sentences, one getting lifetime imprisonment. This week California authorities arrested 275 child predators. And this week I observed a trafficker sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn to 188 months and to pay restitution to his victim in excess of $1.4 million.
The House passed five bills a few weeks ago to strengthen our federal laws on trafficking, and NY is considering the TVPJA to strengthen its laws even further. NY also now has Human Trafficking Intervention Courts where those charged with prostitution are brought for potential help through these special courts and pro bono service providers and lawyers. We've also held training and CLE courses for lawyers, law enforcement, service providers, municipal agencies, healthcare providers, and the travel and tourism industry, as well as training for children, parents, teachers, workers and volunteers on how to prevent child sex abuse, trafficking and sex tourism. While this is a good start, we must continue to strengthen our laws, enforcement, training, and protections of victims.
Stephen M. De Luca