Fusion Center helps to combat human trafficking
W.Va. – Imagine being trapped in conditions so terrible, you are
too traumatized to seek help. That’s all too real for those exploited by human
trafficking, and West Virginia officials are stepping up efforts to identify
and rescue victims.
The W.Va. Intelligence Fusion Center is
coordinating an awareness campaign that will include posting key information
about human trafficking at welcome centers and rest areas throughout the state.
Modern-day slavery, human trafficking
controls, exploits, degrades and dehumanizes people through force, fraud or
coercion for their labor or for commercial sex acts. It can also involve the sexual
assault or abuse of children when force, fraud or coercion need not be present.
“As the analytical component of the West Virginia
Human Trafficking Task Force, the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center
supports law enforcement in human trafficking operations,” said Fusion Center
Director Jack Luikart. “Human trafficking often intersects with the
transportation sector and is intensified by the prevalence of the illicit drug
trade and addiction epidemic in our state. We feel this important collaboration
will increase awareness and reporting of human trafficking and provide an
avenue that links victims to vital services.”
The posters provide the toll-free hotline
and website link for the National Human Trafficking Hotline. They urge people
to get help, report a tip or find services. They also provide details regarding
the forms of human trafficking.
“From both anecdotal and statistical
evidence, reports of human trafficking in West Virginia are increasing
significantly,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Cogar, a prosecutor in
the federal Northern District of West Virginia. “Proactive multi-agency
engagement is critical to identify and combat trafficking, so my office
applauds the Fusion Center and collaborating state agencies for their efforts
to raise awareness of trafficking and help rescue victims.”
In addition to its federal partners, the
Fusion Center is collaborating with the W.Va. Department of Transportation and
the field liaisons at the W.Va. Division of Homeland Security and Emergency
Management. They will help place and track the posters, flagging locations for
new or additional posters as warranted. The hope is to expand where posters can
be seen to include business and other locations.
The initiative launched this month, as
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and will
continue throughout 2020.
The W.Va. Intelligence Fusion Center
allows local, state and federal law enforcement and public safety agencies to
share resources, expertise and information. With private entities also
participating, the resulting collaboration makes the most of their respective
contributions to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to all hazards –
including but not limited to terrorist and criminal activity.