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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Radio broadcast brings understanding about human trafficking to Russian-American audience

ICE Special Agent in Charge in Newark Peter T. Edge gives live interview to news/talk radio program

With audio equipment, staff and a translator in tow, Gregory Davidzon, owner of the Russian radio station WSNR in Brooklyn, N.Y., traveled to the office of Peter T. Edge, special agent in charge (SAC) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Jersey, where he conducted a live interview on January 7, 2010.

The listening audience set their radio dials to WSNR on 620AM for world news, interviews, live press conferences and analysis geared to the Russian-American community from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In Edge's office, the subject was human trafficking.

During the interview, Edge, a 24-year law enforcement veteran with ICE since its inception in 2003, cleared up misconceptions regarding human trafficking. For instance, one caller was under the impression that human trafficking victims work solely in the service of prostitution. This caller wasn't aware that victims of human trafficking have been discovered in all types of industry or labor including gardening, landscaping, domestic service, farm work and food service. Edge mentioned an ICE case, now concluded, where an African organization smuggled young women into the U.S. where they worked in beauty salons braiding hair.

The common denominators among human traffickers are that they deceive their victims, enslave them and force them to work in inhumane conditions without pay and without the option to quit. Criminals and criminal organizations involved in human trafficking operate from the primary premise of greed and exploitation.

Besides defining the nature of human trafficking and explaining that it is a criminal activity that crosses all ethnic groups, Edge said that ICE "undertakes an open and sincere attempt to help human trafficking victims. Our job doesn't end with the criminal investigation. We try to find psychological support, medical assistance, asylum, home, food and other needed resources to help victims."

Edge urged the listening audience to contact ICE if they notice "something strange going on" that leads to a suspicion of a human trafficking crime being committed.

"If you see any signs pointing to human trafficking, such as young men or girls who are not at school when they should be or who are working at unusual times, please call 1-866-DHS-2ICE," said Edge.

Davidzon said the program was "exceptionally well received by the audience."

Broadcasting this interview on the Russian-language station with the translator interpreting Edge's remarks helped to publicize this knowledge to a non-English speaking audience, providing "a lifeline that may be the only way out of their problems," Davidzon said.

Read more about ICE human trafficking and human smuggling investigations.