On May 19-23, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit (HSTU) and HSI Bogota conducted training to more than 100 Colombian law enforcement officers and prosecutors. The training included HSI’s efforts to combat human trafficking and investigative techniques, as well as indicators of human trafficking and victim identification and assistance. Information was also presented regarding investigations of child exploitation and intellectual property rights violations.
The training followed a Feb. 28 joint statement signed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin to counter trafficking in persons.
The statement outlines how the United States and Colombia are committed to continuing collaboration against trafficking in persons by increasing joint law enforcement efforts against criminals engaged in these activities.
According to the statement, “Freedom and human dignity are central tenets of democratic government, and [the United States and Colombia] mutually declare our intention to protect individuals from trafficking…the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs…hereby state their intention to continue robust collaboration to detect, disrupt, dismantle and deter criminal enterprises engaged in trafficking in persons. The participants also acknowledge the importance of supporting vulnerable populations so that they do not become the victims of trafficking in persons.”
“Human trafficking is a global problem and must be combated on an international level,” said HSI Special Agent Dennis Davidson, who is a section chief in HSI’s Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit. “As a leading agency responsible for fighting human trafficking, HSI is glad to share our knowledge, skills and expertise with our law enforcement partners in Colombia. Sharing best practices and working collaboratively will go a long way in strengthening our anti-human trafficking efforts.”
“The training was super well received and very interactive,” said HSI Program Manager D. Todd Zerfoss. “It was meant to be a capacity builder; to get participants thinking about things they might not otherwise think about. I believe the training achieved that goal.”