Connecting the dots were the opening comments and theme for the presentation given by Joy Smith, MP, Government of Canada at the Together Let's Stop Traffick Summit last October in Ottawa, Canada.
The Summit was a collaborative, international three-day working conference, FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) Charitable Foundation initiative produced and hosted by the International Police Training Institute (IPTI). The weekend represented the first phase of a four pronged program to build the world's first International Resource and Coordination Centre (IRCC). Information will be fed 24/7 from every corner of the globe, cross-referencing criminal shipments, trafficking patterns and reported disappearances in a concerted effort to close the loop on organized crime crossing national and international borders. The views, expertise and experiences of delegates were actively sought. The 100 plus attendees included law enforcement, border agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), transportation, logistics and victim support and one anti-money laundering (AML) banking compliance officer.
The first day and a half we heard multiple presenters from a wide range of involvement in human trafficking (HT) representing a global footprint. Each speaker drew from their professional and/or personal experiences. This allowed attendees to increase their knowledge of this global crime and also to fuel the passion to eradicate all forms of HT.
Timea Eva Nagy shared her survivor story of being a victim to the promise of a well-paying job in Canada from her home country of Hungary. Her story is a reminder that human trafficking knows no boundaries or is limited by social class. Her mother was a police officer, and Nagy was established in journalism and communications. In 1998, she fell on hard times and answered an ad for summer employment as a nanny in a Hungarian speaking community in Canada. However, when she arrived in Canada, there was no nanny position, and she became a victim to the sex industry. She was able to escape after three and a half months. In 2009, she founded Walk With Me, and became an advocate for victims of HT. Based in Toronto, Nagy works closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and legislators to give aid to survivors and rescue victims.
Human trafficking knows no boundaries or is limited by social class
Jamie McIntosh, founder and former executive director of International Justice Mission (IJM) Canada and Mark Clookie, global vice president of investigations and law enforcement at IJM, U.S., highlighted undercover investigative efforts in twelve countries, and their goal to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises. Leif Coorlim, editorial director, CNN Freedom Project, showed segments from his video production Freedom Project. The power of the media is evident in that production of an estimated 400 stories and 7,080 NGOs. Look for continuing additions at: www.thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Blue Campaign was represented by Maria Odom, CIS ombudsman and Blue Campaign chair and Scott Santoro, The Blue Campaign training advisor. Odom's presentation reminded us that trafficking includes domestic servitude and she shared riveting examples from the Washington D.C. area. Santoro has a refreshing approach to training with the multiple facets of this subject. He scripts various scenarios and produces a video. The training audience is then asked to identify evidence or clues that the situation could be a trafficking situation. A much more engaging and memorable training experience than a computer-based multiple choice quiz following case studies.
Jennifer Kimball, systems and data coordinator from Polaris Project shared information collected the last five years on sex and labor trafficking. I appreciated her visual graphs and heat maps! She also shared how text messaging to the national hotline is a new channel to both help victims and identify patterns in HT to prevent it in the future. Read more on their success and data analytics at their web site: www.polarisproject.org.
Adobe Senior Solutions Architect John Penn II dedicates his work to help law enforcement solve cases with the use of digital imagery. His career focus was sparked by a law enforcement conference several years ago and a session presented by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Penn was able to direct his intrigue on how imagery could be used to rescue child victims into a full-time job and focus within Adobe. Due to Penn's efforts, Adobe created the title of Senior Solutions Architect for Law Enforcement Technologies. Congratulations John!
NCMEC's President and CEO Ernie Allen opened discussion on the explosion of child pornography, the movement of HT to the Internet and the challenges of anonymous virtual currencies. In addition, he gave testimony to the U.S. Senate this last November titled "Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies." Allen is enthusiastic about the potential with virtual currencies and the digital economy, but concerned with the criminal enterprises that are moving their activity to this unregulated unbanked digital global economy. Follow what NCMEC is doing by adding their webpage to your favorites: www.missingkids.com.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something
"No one can do everything, but everyone can do something" was the challenge George Mueller, assistant chief Los Angeles County DA's Office, gave attendees. He shared trends of gangs swapping girls, girls being recruited on Facebook and Twitter and case studies of trafficking in airports and truckstops. His challenge to the group was defined by asking us to educate ourselves, know our neighbors, serve our communities, listen and learn, know how to act and to be aware of the law.
Attendees were encouraged to "think outside the box and don't be quiet" by Virginia Sundbury, human trafficking lawyer, as she shared her story of a sweatshop in paradise in American Samoa. Andy Desmond, an expert in Nigerian organized trafficking, added to the global perspective. His recent focus is with a specific geographic area of Nigeria and the use of witchcraft to control the victims trafficked into London and internationally. His presentation provided case studies and a form of manipulation that many of us were not aware existed.
During our Summit, Project Spade, a massive international child pornography bust reported 348 arrests and at least 386 children rescued from sexual exploitation. We were able to hear some of the details firsthand from William Blair, Toronto chief of police, and Todd Shean, assistant commissioner, federal policing support services RCMP. Joy Smith, MP Government of Canada, congratulated the extensive teams and extended efforts of the more than 50 countries that contributed to the investigation. This is a prime example of how collaborative efforts can connect the dots and result in successful arrests, rescue and aftercare for the victims.
The balance of the weekend was spent defining specific goals for the creation of the International Resource and Coordination Centre and forming working groups to accomplish the items on the task list. Collectively as a group, we created several hundred topics to address. After those were identified, we defined descriptions, current situations, future state, move to action and opportunities for action. One of the prevalent statements made for the weekend, was how well everyone worked together and left personal agendas and egos at the door. We exceeded the anticipated goals with the collaborative efforts of the working groups. The list of opportunities for action remains long, and is fluid as knowledge, technology, current events and contributors impact the project.
On behalf of "Together Let's Stop Traffick" I want to extend an invitation to you to visit the web site: www.togetherletsstoptraffick.org. We are planning webinars that will be available to everyone. The 2014 Summit is in early planning stages with a location and date to be announced soon. Watch the web site for updates and announcements or become part of the LinkedIn community. Consider bringing your "dots" to connect virtually or by attending the Summit this fall!
The ACAMS community is passionate about eradicating this global crime. How do we identify where our "dots" are to connect? What will it look like if all the dots from every sector connected and fabricated a global net against human trafficking?
Last year I made it a personal goal to raise awareness within my community and step up my involvement to a higher level. Both of those goals were accomplished, but what surprised me, was how my awareness expanded! I am humbled and excited with the efforts and successes of others in tackling this horrific crime.
I would like to again share the challenge of my new friend George Mueller, "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something!"
Sande Bayer, CAMS, GTC chapter board member, vice president AML Compliance, U.S. Bank, Minneapolis, MN, USA