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Department of Justice holds human trafficking training for law enforcement and service providers

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News
From left, FBI Special Agent Jeremy Bell, HSI Special Agent Kevin Kelly and U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office held a training session on Wednesday to help inform people who work with victims of human trafficking. 

Experts on labor and sex trafficking from the Department of Justice and others spoke to law enforcement officers, members of non-governmental organizations, and service providers about the complex array of factors involved in trafficking situations.

Jeremy Bell with the FBI said that misconceptions about where and how human trafficking occurs make it harder to intervene.

“Oftentimes, victims are victimized by their family members, even their own parents or guardians,” Bell said. “So a lot of these myths or misconceptions make our jobs more difficult.”

Forensic psychologist Veronique Valliere said that traffickers will use people’s vulnerabilities against them, and that no one is immune to falling victim.

“With the right perpetrator, we could all be victims and we may not think we would ever be capable of it,” Valliere said.

Kevin Kelly with Homeland Security Investigations noted that there is an economic incentive for traffickers.

“Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar institution,” Kelly said. “It’s a heinous and egregious crime against victims.”

U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy unveiled a new human trafficking public service announcement at the end of the conference aimed to help educate the community.

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.