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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
07/09/2008

ICE mounts outdoor ad campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking

Hidden in plain sight is theme of displays in San Diego and six other U.S. cities

SAN DIEGO - As part of it's ongoing effort to raise public awareness about the plight of human trafficking victims in the United States, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched an outdoor advertising campaign featuring billboards and transit shelter signs in seven major cities across the country, including San Diego.

Posters, bearing the slogan "Hidden in Plain Sight," were erected last month at 15 transit shelters throughout the greater San Diego area. The goal of the campaign is to alert the public about the existence of human trafficking in communities nationwide. In addition to San Diego, the human trafficking billboards and transit shelter signs are being displayed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, Baltimore and New York City. Additional outdoor displays are planned for Houston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

"ICE is asking for the public's assistance to help us recognize and identify the victims of modern-day slavery who are in our midst," said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for ICE investigations in San Diego. "These victims are domestic servants, sweat shop employees, sex workers and others lured here by the promise of prosperity, then forced to work without the ability to leave their situation. ICE is committed to giving trafficking victims the help they need to come forward, so we can put an end to this reprehensible form of modern day slavery."

It is estimated that some 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. These victims become casualties of the international sex trade and other forced labor situations throughout the world and in the United States. The victims typically find themselves in a foreign country, often unable to speak the language, with no one to advocate for them. Traffickers often take away the victims' travel and identity documents and tell them that if they attempt to escape, their families will be physically or financially harmed.

The outdoor advertising campaign is part of ICE's ongoing effort to raise public awareness about the existence of human trafficking in the United States. Earlier this year the agency distributed video public service announcements to television stations in 30 media markets across the country. Like the billboards, the spots urge witnesses and victims to report this crime. One of the biggest challenges facing ICE and other law enforcement agencies involved in the fight against human trafficking is getting victims and witnesses in these cases to come forward.

As the primary law enforcement agency investigating human trafficking, ICE is aggressively targeting the global criminal infrastructure, including the people, money and materials, that support human trafficking networks. The agency's goal is to prevent human trafficking in the United States by prosecuting the traffickers and rescuing and protecting the victims.

ICE urges anyone who suspects someone is being held against their will, to contact the ICE tip line anonymously at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. You can also view or download the ICE video public service announcement at www.ice.gov.