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January 4, 2023Kansas City, MO, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Kansas City asks for community’s help in the fight against human trafficking in yearly campaign

KANSAS CITY - Each January, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kansas City joins other law enforcement agencies, to educate the public on human trafficking, its indicators and how to prevent and report it.

HSI Kansas City is a global leader in the fight against human trafficking and has an extensive mission to proactively fight against the trafficking of individuals.

HSI special agents utilize their broad range of authority and international footprint to identify, investigate and disrupt domestic and transnational criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking. Special agents work closely with the HSI Victim Assistance Program to ensure that human trafficking victims are afforded their rights and have access to the services to which they are entitled by law. Moreover, HSI provides expertise and leadership to other federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners by organizing training on strategies and best practices that can be utilized to counter this heinous crime of exploitation.

“Human trafficking is likely happening in your neighborhood and unfortunately members of the community who would typically offer respite to someone being victimized, may not because they are simply unaware that it’s happening,” said Taekuk Cho, acting special agent in charge of HSI Kansas City. “That is one of the many reasons this yearly campaign is so important. We at HSI Kansas City want to ensure that the public knows the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it.”

“HSI Kansas City is working diligently throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa to eradicate human trafficking in our community, but this is very much a coordinated effort with the public, individuals in positions of trust and law enforcement,” continued Cho.

Human trafficking victims have been found in local communities working in the agriculture, hospitality, restaurant, domestic work and other industries, as well as in prostitution that is facilitated online, on the street, or in businesses fronting for prostitution such as massage parlors. Overseas forced labor can be used to produce the consumer goods that are in our homes and workplaces. The victims are men, women and children of all ages and may include U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Many of them may have thought they had found a good paying job or a better life, only to have their hopes and dreams dashed and placed into modern day slavery.

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking is the first step to identifying a victim. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign, a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases, also has a resources page with materials for a more in-depth human trafficking education and materials that can be distributed throughout the community.

“By identifying victims and reporting tips, the public is assisting HSI Kansas City and our partners to potentially rescue victims, connect them with vital medical/mental health care services, shelter, etc. and ultimately restore their freedom and dignity,” Cho said.

Call 1-866-347-2423 to report suspicious criminal activity to the HSI Tip Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by ICE HSI, including those related to human trafficking. The Tip Line is accessible outside the United States by calling (802) 872-6199.

Some recent examples of human trafficking and HSI KC’s efforts to eradicate it from our community, include:

Homeland Security Investigations

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat human trafficking in your community on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.