Federal and local service providers were provided training Wednesday 16 March 2005 on ways to identify and help human trafficking victims working in sex, construction, restaurant or housekeeping trades in southern Nevada. The expansion of a Department of a Health and Human Services program to Las Vegas comes after the Department of Justice and other federal and local authorities announced a law enforcement crackdown on human trafficking in September 2004.
The Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking effort aims to help more than 30 southern Nevada service agencies that shelter runaways and offer aid to trafficking victims. Some of the service agencies include WestCare, a street outreach team that received a $150,000 grant to double in size to four members. WestCare is a nonprofit agency that also offers substance abuse and mental health treatment in the Las Vegas area. Another organization is the Salvation Army, which received part of a $500,000 federal grant to provide shelter and other services to people brought from a foreign country and forced into "modern day slavery." Las Vegas is the 11th U.S. city included in the effort.
The problem involves children, women and men forced against their will to engage in sex, prostitution, pornography, escort services, or to perform labor in massage parlors, farms, construction, restaurants and sweat shop factories. Most are persuaded to trust their captors and employers by the promise of fame and fortune or a better life in America.
Prostitution rings have been found involving Eastern European women in Las Vegas. In 2004, Las Vegas police found 207 girls forced into prostitution with at least half brought to southern Nevada from other states. The girls are lured by pimps and other girls into prostitution at hotels on and off the Las Vegas Strip, and bound by threats and intimidation.
Those who are apprehended enter a program called Operation Stop, where they are treated as victims and encouraged to help authorities prosecute their pimps.
The Immigration Law Clinic at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada is also involved in labor trafficking cases in Nevada.
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