MACON, Ga.- A team of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents from the Atlanta ICE Office of Investigations were recognized here today by Mercer University for their unyielding commitment to rescue victims of trafficking.
The ICE agents received the award during the university's conference titled "STOP Sex Trafficking: A Call to End 21st Century Slavery".
The ICE team was nominated for the award by Tapestri, a Georgia based non-governmental organization focused on increasing access to services in immigrant communities.
"We are honored that our agents have been recognized for their efforts to target human traffickers and rescue victims," said Kenneth A. Smith, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Atlanta. "We also commend groups like Tapestri and Mercer University for their commitment to educating our community about how they can help law enforcement combat this problem."
ICE is the federal government's lead agency with responsibility for combating human trafficking. An estimated 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year, according to the U.S. Department of State. Victims are trafficked into the international sex trade and into forced labor situations throughout the world. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs; instead, they are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor or other types of forced labor.
ICE works in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies to identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims. In collaboration with these other organizations and law enforcement agencies, ICE capitalizes upon its expertise, infrastructure and investigative resources to identify and rescue the victims of trafficking.
During fiscal year 2007, ICE initiated 348 human trafficking cases resulting in 164 arrests, 107 indictments and 91 convictions. Last year ICE initiated 2,503 human trafficking cases that resulted in 1,845 arrests, 1,234 indictments and 1,293 convictions.