Opinions / Op-eds

Labrador Letter on Human Trafficking

Dear Friends,

Few topics in the news today are getting more attention than the cancer of human trafficking in our communities. Rightfully so – this is a crime that perpetuates untold misery across all lines of age, geography, ethnicity, and economic status. At the very heart of it all lies the root of so many of our societal ills: greed.

The same cartels that smuggle drugs into our country are also smuggling people, and often at the same time. The cartels trap illegal immigrants further into a criminal life by forcing them to carry drugs and remain in perpetual servitude as sexual slaves for years until their ability to earn money has diminished. Women and children are easy targets for the cartels, threatening their families with violence or withholding identification documents until the needs of the cartels have been served. It has been said that human trafficking is far more profitable than drugs as a commodity. You can sell a single baggie of heroin one time. But you can sell a human being several times a day for years and years.

It’s not just drug cartels on our Southern border and their spiderweb of networks that spread this disease of slavery. There are criminal organizations across the world that see the economic benefit of trafficking in human beings, some kidnapped, some blackmailed, some tricked with the promise of legal employment and a better life. Sadly, it’s not a new concept and slavery has been a shameful business model for millennia. More shamefully, this problem exists under our very noses, in our communities and neighborhoods. But we are not turning a blind eye to a long-time problem.

Christ Troupis Book

For the last year, my office has been working hard to craft effective legislation that addresses the gaps in Idaho’s human trafficking laws. It started during the last legislative session when my office helped draft H341, which included a new law to criminalize the receipt of proceeds from illegal sexual activity. H341 also required my office to write a report on human trafficking in Idaho. With the help of victim’s organizations and others, we included in the report a host of recommendations for the legislature, including a rewrite of Idaho’s human trafficking laws. The report was published last month and is publicly available here.

Several legislators converted most of the recommendations in our report into a bill for this legislative session. H494 has been introduced in the House Judiciary Committee and is waiting for a hearing. H494 completely rewrites Idaho’s human trafficking laws to provide law enforcement with clearer and more effective means for investigating and prosecuting these crimes. The bill also creates new definitions for commercial sex activity, new authority, and a renewed purpose to attacking and dismantling the organizations and individuals who traffic in human misery and abuse. At the same time, this bill works to protect the victims, while going after the end users who drive profits with their participation.

If passed as currently written, H494 will also place in my office an attorney whose primary responsibility will be to combat human trafficking through information sharing, education, and assisting local law enforcement and county prosecutors in attacking this evil. H494 encourages cooperation and coordination between agencies, non-profits, and all entities that seek to help in the fight against human trafficking. The Idaho Press did an excellent job of covering this issue and the proposed legislation. That article can be read here for more details.

Human trafficking also perpetuates another repugnant crime that my office has worked hard to eradicate – child sexual abuse – though the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. There is a clear connection between users promoting the online sexualization and abuse of children and then traffickers supplying that market with vulnerable, endangered children for a price. Both the trafficking organizations and the culture promoting child sexual abuse need to be eradicated with extreme prejudice and with every resource available. Every life rescued, every person saved from this torment and slavery helps to repair the soul of our nation and community. There is no moral ambiguity or nagging ethical dilemma. No lesser of two evils. There is no gray. We cannot afford to lose this fight.

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One reply on “Labrador Letter on Human Trafficking”

H 494, is a great step forward. Now we need a bill making it a gross misdemeanor / felony to harbor, clothe or feed anyone illegally in the country.

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