Lawmaker cites the Super Bowl as a huge draw for domestic and international traffickers
(ENGLEWOOD) – Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) on Monday announced plans to introduce a large-scale legislative bill package to target human trafficking in time for the 2014 Super Bowl, which will take place in Bergen County.
Noting the critical role of law enforcement in combating human trafficking, Huttle praised Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa for issuing a statewide directive ordering law enforcement to identify, investigate and prosecute human sex and labor trafficking more aggressively. This initiative supplements Vainieri Huttle’s bill package, which she has been working on for several months and will introduce when the Assembly returns in the fall.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, yet it receives very little attention. New Jersey must take a strong stand against it by putting laws in place that prevent and address the sale of people for sex and labor. Traffickers and those who enable them must be dealt with more rigidly and victims must be helped in escaping these horrific circumstances,” said Vainieri Huttle. “These bills will better equip us to fight this terrible crime by giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on perpetrators and consumers.”
According to statistics by the Division of Criminal Justice, there were only 179 cases of sex and labor trafficking reported in New Jersey from Sept. 16, 2005 to March 1, 2012. However, according to the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that assists human trafficking victims, the number of unreported trafficking crimes in New Jersey is closer to the thousands, said Vainieri Huttle. The U.S. State Department estimates that 50,000 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States each year, in addition to the 100,000 domestic victims already enslaved.
“There is evidence to suggest that there will be a sharp increase of trafficking victims shipped to NJ due to the Super Bowl.” said Vainieri Huttle. “Just as Indiana did in advance of the 2012 Super Bowl, we intend to exponentially reduce this potential. We welcome the Super Bowl and the fans who will come to our great state to enjoy the game and experience all that New Jersey has to offer. But we will not allow this event to generate human exploitation.”