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California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez Announce Accord to Strengthen Cross-Border Investigations and Prosecutions of Human Trafficking

Friday, September 21, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES -- California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez today signed an accord to expand prosecutions and secure convictions of criminals who engage in the trafficking of human beings.

The accord will increase coordination of law enforcement resources targeting transnational gangs that engage in the sale and trafficking of human beings across the California-Mexico border. The accord calls for closer integration on human trafficking investigations between the two offices and the sharing of best practices for law enforcement to recognize instances of human trafficking and provide support and services to victims. Prosecutors from the two offices today held the second of a series of meetings to implement the initiative.

"California and Mexico are together taking steps to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks that traffic human beings into our state as if they were just another commodity," said Attorney General Harris. "Targeting transnational gangs is a vital component of our efforts to protect public safety in California."

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion global industry and the world’s third most profitable criminal enterprise behind drugs and arms trafficking. The United States Department of State estimates that between 14,000 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the country each year. The National Human Trafficking Hotline and Resource Center received more than 54,000 calls between 2007 and 2011, with more than 15 percent originating from California.

"Criminal trafficking organizations are among the most dangerous threats that we confront and they are drawn to the trafficking of human beings by the high profit and low risk," said Attorney General Harris. "If we aim to be smart on crime, we have to change that calculus. Our goal is to disrupt trafficking networks, increase convictions and force these international traffickers away from our borders."

Earlier this month, Attorney General Harris announced the arraignment on drug trafficking charges of six individuals with suspected links to the La Familia and Sinaloa cartels. Together, these two busts resulted in the seizure of more than 43 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of nearly $2 million.

Attorney General Harris has made the fight against human trafficking a career priority. The Justice Department is preparing an update to California’s Human Trafficking Report, which, in part, will examine the human trafficking activities of transnational gangs in California. This report is an update of a 2007 report mandated by the California Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005, which was sponsored by then-District Attorney Harris and first made human trafficking a felony in California.

In June, Attorney General Harris partnered with Yahoo! and the Polaris Project to direct users to the national human trafficking hotline whenever certain terms related to human trafficking are searched through Yahoo!. The goal of the initiative is to identify more victims of human trafficking by connecting survivors and community members to resources and support.

In addition, two bills sponsored by Attorney General Harris have been sent to Governor Edmund G. Brown for his signature. Assembly Bill 2466 (Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield) ensures that criminal defendants involved in human trafficking will not dispose of assets that would otherwise be provided as restitution to victims, and Senate Bill 1133 (Senator Mark Leno) expands the list of assets that a human trafficker must forfeit and provides a formula for using those resources to help victims of human trafficking.

For more information on human trafficking, visit www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking.

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