The administration of President Barack Obama has launched a program designed to improve efforts by the federal government to investigate and prosecute human traffickers, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
The program will include pilot “anti-trafficking coordination teams” led by top federal law enforcement officials based across the United States with different agencies, said Holder, speaking at a State Department meeting with Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The Obama administration has yet to announce what cities will host the teams.
“The launch of these ACTeams will enable us to leverage the assets and expertise of each federal enforcement agency more effectively than ever before,” Holder said. “But we will not rest until this unprecedented collaboration translates into the results that matter most: the liberation of victims and the prosecution of traffickers.”
Holder said the program and work already done by federal officials to combat human trafficking move the government a step closer to winning the battle against the crime. He noted that the DOJ prosecuted the most human-trafficking cases in its history last year. In fiscal 2010, the DOJ handled 52 human-trafficking cases, nine more than the previous record set in fiscal 2009.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the DOJ Civil Rights Division told Main Justice last year that the enforcement of human-trafficking laws is a priority of his office.
Perez said human trafficking, a crime in which immigrants are often the victims, is “a national challenge” that affects urban areas as well as suburban and rural communities. The Assistant Attorney General said the influx of immigrants in smaller communities has increased the potential for sex trafficking and involuntary servitude in those locales.
This story has been updated from an earlier version.