Giving human trafficking victims a voice
Tue, 11 Jan 2011 04:46:14 GMT —
The grass is overgrown and there is ~For Rent TM sign hanging on the fence.
What was once a bar is now just an empty building.
It was back in September 2010 that investigators busted the owners of Centenario Bar for prostitution and Monday afternoon both Tereso Murillo Olivo and Nancy Nereida Olivo went before a federal judge.
"This was not trafficking. This was strictly smuggling, said Jerry Robinette with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The owners of the bar were involved in paying the smuggling fee and harboring these individuals so they could prostitute them out."
Tereso Olivo received 15 years and Nancy Olivo two years probation on top of already six month probation.
While the women at Centenario Bar willingly participated in prostitution there are hundreds of thousands who do not.
Their lives are turned upside down.
"Once they're here they feel trapped, said Martha Sanchez with Lupe. That's the reason we don't know the magnitude of this problem. We imagine it's much bigger than we see."
Sanchez said they deal with dozens of these cases and she said, despite encouragement from organizations willing to help, for these victims to actually come forward is unheard of.
"They need to be brave and come out and tell us their stories," said Sanchez.
In order to prosecute a victim needs to come forward and be willing to testify against their suspected trafficker.
With the number of human trafficking cases increasing each year the federal government is stepping up with the Blue Campaign.
This is a nationwide initiative to help bring awareness to human trafficking, victim assistance programs, and law enforcement training and initiatives.
For more information on this campaign you can go to www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking or call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.