Texas: 47th district add personnel to combat human trafficking

The Country Commissioner’s Court in Texas’ 47th district has voted unanimously to add an assistant DA and investigator to staff, who’s primary focus will be combatting human trafficking in the region. The 2 new additions will join a team of workers who aim to secure justice for victims of forced labour and human trafficking.

Awareness of modern slavery in the United States is steadily growing, and government groups are being pressured by non-profits and the public to take action. The 47th district is home to a wide range of agriculture, factories and construction- all high risk sectors for forced labour and trafficking. The team includes an “outreach group” that conduct in person audits of farms and ranches. District Attorney Randall Sims highlighted the necessity for collaboration with farmers and ranchers, emphasising that “they are the ones that are going to wind up first identifying a possible issue. At that point, then they will come and talk to our investigator and our the Assistant DA that will be handling those cases”.

The new positions are being funded through the Buffett-McCain Institute Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery. The institute, a subsidiary of Arizona State University, aims to combat modern slavery through testing and replicating programs that end trafficker impunity, secure justice for victims, prevent the crime and leverage resources and increase coordination. The programs have a victim-centred approach, working to “increase victim identification, support investigations and increase labor trafficking prosecutions”.

The initiative is also partnering with the Family Support Services agency, led by director of education Brandi Reed. "We're really going out into our communities, and identifying those key stakeholders that need to have a seat at the table," Reed said. "They need to be educated about what labor trafficking really is, but they also need to be a part of creating solutions to the problem."

District Attorney Sims highlighted that gaining the trust of the community is key in combatting slavery. "It'll be I think, a continuing fight… we’ve got to gain a lot of trust with folks before they'll actually be able to start coming to us."

Sonja DuncanComment