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February 22, 2022Phoenix, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

ICE HSI participates in multi-agency human trafficking operation

PHOENIX – Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined a multi-agency collaborative effort aimed at confronting and reducing human trafficking-related crimes in the valley.

The Phoenix Police Department’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT) spearheaded the two-phase approach beginning in January through February. The Phoenix HEAT unit worked with human trafficking units from Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, HSI and FBI to address the problem in the greater Phoenix area. This joint operation was conducted in Scottsdale and Phoenix and resulted in 118 arrests related to prostitution, luring, pandering, escort service violations, and warrants. The focus was on hotel prostitution and street prostitution enforcement.

The operation brought together special agents, officers, detectives, victim advocates, and criminal analysts.

Other highlights worth noting include:

  • Three of the subjects arrested had outstanding felony warrants; one of which was for homicide out of Texas.
  • One individual was arrested after they agreed to meet believing they were paying to have a sexual encounter with an underage male.
  • Several possible traffickers were identified, and follow-up investigations are pending.
  • At least 70 individuals were offered services to help get out of being involved in prostitution and human trafficking.

This was a large-scale operation with a variety of moving parts. It’s success was made possible by the hard work and cooperation of all the agencies involved. The combined efforts of the agencies are part of a nationwide effort to eliminate human and sex trafficking.

If you have information about someone being trafficked, contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. 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. HIS’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HIS’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

HSI is a critical component of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT), a cross-Department coordination center for countering sex trafficking and forced labor, including the importation of goods produced with forced labor. Its mission is to advance counter-human trafficking law enforcement operations, protect victims, and enhance prevention efforts by aligning DHS’s capabilities and expertise. Visit here to learn more about Department-wide efforts to combat human trafficking.

Updated: 02/23/2022