NEW JERSEY (WABC) – New Jersey investigators and homeland security officials on Wednesday unveiled new ways to combat the growing problem of human trafficking, including ways to report it and what police should look out for.
“I’ve been abused, I’ve been abused, I’ve been mistreated, I’ve been mistreated even worse than at home,” said victim Treya Bouzier.
Bouzier became a victim of human trafficking at the tender age of 16. She was in foster care and lived with an abusive mother.
“I ran away to find someone to accept me, to find someone to make me feel loved,” Bouzier said.
She wanted to feel loved and feel false promises.
“I was running from something to something worse,” she said.
Now Bouzier has become a voice of change through Montclair State University for victims of human trafficking, which authorities call modern slavery.
“This is a business that needs to be broken and dismantled on every front, and that’s what law enforcement has to do here,” Bouzier said.
This Human Trafficking Month, law enforcement agencies led by Homeland Security have joined higher education to help victims.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime, whether it’s for sex or labor, we’re here to say it will not be tolerated,” said Ricky J. Patel, Newark’s special agent in charge of national security investigations.
There is a strong push to educate potential victims, who are mostly from marginalized communities and are targeted by abusers.
“They use immigration status and drug addiction,” said Philip R. Selinger, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
They also take advantage of refugees, the homeless, people on welfare and the LGBTQ+ community, but it doesn’t stop there.
“This is a crime that knows no borders,” said Ali Boak, director of Montclair State University’s Global Center on Human Trafficking.
Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion a year in profits worldwide
“We can provide a safe place to give a voice to those who don’t necessarily have a voice,” said Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppel.
The university and law enforcement signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to eliminate human trafficking and ensure victims know they will not be ignored.
“Give victims an opportunity to know that their complaints will be investigated,” said Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stevens II. “They have to come forward. People will listen to them, and after that they will be brought to justice.”
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