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Human Trafficking & Code Enforcement


Leading Pro-Active Law Enforcement Agencies are recognizing the importnant role of Code Officers in the detection of human-trafficking situations.  Because we are out in the streets, all day along and often inspecting residential dwellings we are on the front line of detection.  Human Trafficking has many indicators which can be over-looked without the needed training and cooperation of law enforcement departments.  At the 2007 Florida Code Enforcement Association Conference in Jacksonville, Florida members were offered just such training. Unfortunately only as an should have been mandatory.  Human Trafficking comes in many forms: Young teenage girls at the mall approached by evil-intent persons only need a few minutes of a unsuspecting girls attention to slip a date-rape type drug into them.  Then they disappear forever into a drugged world of sex slavery.  Aliens, smuggled into the country in hopes of being with their families or a new start, are drugged and forever interned into this same cold world.  Some of these kids are not even in there teens yet.   Utilizing suburban and commercial property to conduct the operations, code officers are in a position to recognize the signs that they structure they are inspecting could be just such an operation.

Code enforcement officers join efforts to crack down on human trafficking

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The city's code enforcement officers are looking for more than illegal dumping, overgrown lots and unsafe buildings.

Recognizing signs of human trafficking was recently added to their training after other law officers asked for help.

"They've recruited us to be their eyes and ears on the streets," said code officer Alex Southern, a spokesman for the department. "Our officers are out in the neighborhoods every day. We see and hear a lot."

Federal, state and local authorities are trying to crack down on human trafficking in Dallas-Fort Worth, believed to be one of the fastest-growing hubs for trafficking.

Human trafficking involves forcing people from other countries, other states or even other parts of the Metroplex into servitude, often to repay a debt. The work includes prostitution, housekeeping or construction.

Large operations have been found in Fort Worth.

In 2002, federal agents raided six bars and seven homes after officials found Honduran women being forced to work as barmaids.

Authorities have busted similar operations in Dallas.

In December, Fort Worth created a police anti-trafficking unit with a $600,000 grant from the Justice Department. The unit, which the grant funds for three years, is part of the North Texas Anti-Trafficking Task Force, a collaboration of law enforcement and social service agencies.

The unit has several open investigations of Fort Worth-area trafficking, said Kathleen Murray, the unit's program director. But it asked code officers for help generating more leads.

"They cover a lot of ground," Murray said. "If they see any of the clues we've told them about, they'll notify us."

Training consists of explaining human trafficking and describing what goes on. There were accounts of women forced to have sex with men every 15 minutes for hours a day.

Half of each woman's earnings are withheld by the trafficker to pay for room and board and condoms. Victims are beaten, and food is withheld in this form of slavery, authorities said.

"It is deplorable," Southern said. "After seeing the way these people are forced to live, our officers were eager to help."