Exposing a Hidden Crime: What You Should Know About Human Trafficking

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Mar 29, 2019 in Criminal Law

human trafficking in arizonaThere is a billion-dollar industry that takes place daily in the U.S. and around the world. However, those illegal profits come at the expense of our most vulnerable populations.

Human trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery or a hidden crime because people do not realize that it is taking place in their communities. The International Labour Organization estimates more than 40 million men, women and children are trafficked  globally every year.

Human traffickers will stop at nothing to lure victims into forced labor or prostitution, and anyone can become a victim. However, traffickers tend to prey on at-risk populations like our vulnerable youth.

The Arizona Human Trafficking Council says one out of three runaways will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. While every case is different, typically, vulnerable victims feel incomplete, and are in search of stability or have experienced or been exposed to:

  • Child abuse
  • Maltreatment
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Gang violence

In Plain Sight

Often times, human trafficking happens in plain sight. The Department of Homeland Security says sex traffickers take advantage of the tourism industry - specifically hotel chains - because of the privacy factor. This is why Arizona law enforcement has boosted patrols during big sporting events like the Super Bowl or Final Four.

The abuse unfortunately does not end there though. Sex traffickers use truck stops, rest areas, massage therapy businesses and even homes to make money off of their victims. Traffickers not only use their victims for prostitution, they may use them for forced labor - to work in factories or farms for little or no pay.

Exposing the Truth

It is not easy for victims of human trafficking to come forward and expose their abusers or enablers. Sometimes, it is because traffickers have created so much trauma the victims cannot seek help. In some cases, the victims just do not realize they are victims. This could be the result of strong “grooming” tactics. Traffickers may offer up gifts, false affection and false stability.

Reasons why victims do not speak up:

  • Misconceived, positive feelings about abuser
  • Feel ashamed or blame themselves
  • Coached to lie or follow a script
  • Fear of law enforcement; fear of arrest
  • Fear for their safety or family’s safety
  • Drug addiction, including as a coping mechanism

Arizona Human Trafficking Legislation

As of April 2014, Arizona has enacted more protections for victims, including stiffer sentences for traffickers in cases involving minors. House Bill 2454 was signed into law by former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to help strengthen anti-trafficking legislation in the state.

The new law increases the presumptive sentence. Traffickers can now face between 10.5 to 13.5 years for a first-time offense, between 15.75 to 24 years with a prior felony conviction, and between 28 to 31 years with two or more prior felonies.

For victims, it helps to limit the amount of their identifying information released in court and in court documents as part of discovery and to the general public. Victims have the choice to give consent to release additional information.

Contact Phillips Law Group For Legal Help

Whether businesses enable human trafficking or not, victims should know the law is here to protect them. While money cannot compensate a victim completely for the tragic effects of human trafficking, it can hopefully help recover and rebuild their lives for the better.

If you believe a business is enabling labor and sex traffickers in Arizona, the skilled Phoenix criminal defense attorneys are here to take a look at your case and provide legal input. Schedule a free and confidential consultation with our team of legal professionals at no risk or obligation to you. Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront costs unless you recover compensation for your case.

Get started today by calling our office at 1-800-706-3000.

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