The United States Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Pittsburgh, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Pittsburgh have announced the creation of a new anti-human trafficking coalition. Operation T.E.N. (Trafficking Ends Now), is comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies as well as non-governmental organizations.
Operation T.E.N. serves as an umbrella coalition for the 25 counties in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and is a coordinated effort aimed at ending human trafficking through education, improving cooperation among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, and will enhance our ability to empower victims of human trafficking to become thriving survivors.
Combatting human trafficking is currently one of the Department of Justice’s highest priorities. As part of the strategy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski, who is an experienced prosecutor and serves as the Human Trafficking Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s office, will oversee Operation T.E.N. and community outreach, serving as a resource that members of our community can utilize to directly access the United States Attorney’s Office regarding human trafficking.
While human trafficking can occur in a variety of scenarios and industries, indicators of trafficking activities often look the same across most cases.
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying a victim and can help save a life. It is often a hidden crime, and victims may be afraid to come forward and get help.
In fiscal year 2019, HSI arrested 2,197 individuals in connection with human trafficking. From those cases, more than 400 trafficking victims were identified and offered critical assistance. The top five locations for human trafficking criminal arrests by ICE were Los Angeles (344), Houston (205), Atlanta (130), Charlotte (125), and Phoenix (124).
Specialists with the agency’s Victim Assistance Program assess a victim’s needs and work with law enforcement to integrate victim assistance considerations throughout a criminal investigation. HSI can also assist a victim in getting a short-term immigration relief called Continued Presence, which is available only upon request by law enforcement. In the absence of other resources, DHS has an emergency assistance fund which is available for emergency victim assistance needs.
Bystanders play a unique role in identifying and preventing this crime. If you notice suspicious activity, please contact ICE through its tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or ice.gov/tips.