Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Traffickers target victims and use threats of violence, the exploitation of the victims’ drug addiction, or other forms of coercion to force victims into performing commercial sexual activities or labor. Because human trafficking is often perpetuated by force or by drug dependency, these crimes also fuel violence, predominantly against women, and drug dealing and use.
Many victims of human trafficking do not seek help or report their abusers to law enforcement out of fear of both the traffickers and of facing prosecution themselves. This is why it is critical for law enforcement to be trained in recognizing victims and treating them as victims of crimes rather than criminals themselves.
In July 2018, District Attorney Sini joined the Suffolk County Police Department and FBI to announce the launch of Long Island’s first Human Trafficking Investigation Unit, a collaborative, multi-agency effort to investigate and prosecute human traffickers. The Unit includes prosecutors assigned to the Human Trafficking Team, which is a part of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau. These prosecutors employ a multi-faceted approach to combating human trafficking, including:
Victims of human trafficking who are charged in connection with their abuser’s scheme, such as victims arrested for prostitution, are diverted from regular prosecution into a dedicated Human Trafficking Court in Central Islip. The Human Trafficking Court diversion program offers victims counseling, drug treatment, and job training. Upon successful completion of the program, charges against victims may be dismissed.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or would like to report suspected human trafficking, please call the District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602. Tips can also be provided anonymously to the Suffolk County Police Department through Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.