U.S. Law Enforcement Steps Up Hunt for Human Traffickers

U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports it has made 5,400 arrests and obtained 2,300 convictions in cases of human trafficking and smuggling since 2003.

The January 9 announcement came as President Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, renewing the U.S. commitment to eradicating the crime of human smuggling. (See related article.)

ICE has played a key role in human trafficking investigation and prosecution, in partnership with local and international law enforcement agencies.

The agency reports that investigations into trafficking have increased by more than 400 percent since 2005.

For additional information, see Human Trafficking.

The text of the ICE announcement follows:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
News Release
January 10, 2006


TVPRA, signed today by President Bush, allows ICE to continue its significant law enforcement progress against traffickers

Washington, DC - With today’s signing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA - H.R. 972) by President Bush, ICE reaffirmed its law enforcement commitment to identify victims of human trafficking and bring the perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice.

“Human traffickers are violent criminals that operate without regard to basic human dignity. They are motivated by pure greed,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary John P. Clark.  “By working with law enforcement partners in the United States and abroad, we are identifying and assisting their victims, shutting down these organizations and seizing their illicit profits.”

In the last several years, ICE has played a significant role in fighting human trafficking. 

• The number of ICE investigations against traffickers increased by more than 400 percent in the first six months of FY 2005, compared to the total number of cases in FY 2004.  In fact, since the creation of ICE in March 2003, investigations into human trafficking and the related crime of human smuggling, have resulted in more than 5,400 arrests, 2,800 criminal indictments, and 2,300 criminal convictions.

• ICE holds the current directorship of the Human Smuggling & Trafficking Center, an interagency joint intelligence fusion center focused specifically on human smuggling and human trafficking.  Other DHS entities, the Department of State, the Department of Justice and members of the intelligence community participate in the Center.

• The amount of assets seized from human smugglers and human trafficking organizations has gone from almost none before 2003 to nearly $27 million in 2005. 

• By aggressively enforcing the child sex tourism provisions of the PROTECT Act, ICE is working to reduce the demand for trafficked children overseas by American pedophiles who travel abroad to sexually exploit children.  Since ICE was created, more than a dozen child sex tourists seeking to exploit children in eight separate countries have been arrested and now face justice in the U.S.

• ICE is also assisting victims.  In FY 2004, 93 percent of the total Continued Presence (CP) applications, a designation that allows alien victims of human trafficking crimes to remain legally in the U.S. while the case is being adjudicated and the victim is applying for a T-Visa, submitted on behalf of trafficking victims in the United States were the result of ICE investigations.  In FY 2005, ICE investigations accounted for 85 percent of the total number of CP applications.

Among other provisions, the TVPRA authorizes $36 million dollars over the next two years for ICE investigations into severe forms of human trafficking, allowing ICE to continue with the significant progress it has made in the last two years. 

# ICE #

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in March 2003 as the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.  ICE is comprised of four integrated divisions that form a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities.