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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Perry Chiaramonte"

Jon Stewart sets his sights on helping burn pit vets with new PSA

Now that thousands of those who were made ill due to their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero are finally receiving access to a crucial compensation fund, Jon Stewart has set his sights on helping the hundreds of thousands of veterans who may have become sick due to burn pit exposure.

The former host of The Daily Show has begun to focus his philanthropic sights on bringing awareness to ongoing efforts on the issue, which occurred when service members and contractors were exposed to a toxic stew of airborne pollutants while stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You deserve more than the country’s gratitude for your service,” Stewart says in the two-minute PSA, seemingly speaking directly to veterans. “You deserve full medical benefits to help you with your illness.”

“Together we are going to work to get you justice and get you healed.”

JON STEWART BLASTS CONGRESS OVER 9/11 FUNDING HEARING: ‘DROVE ME NUTS’ THERE WERE EMPTY SEATS

In the two-minute PSA, which was released on September 11, Stewart explains how the survivors of 9/11 were finally able to get the financial assistance they needed and then makes the case for the same help to be provided to veterans exposed to burn pits.

“Post-9-11, there was a long fight to get New York City’s first responders appropriate help to pay for medical costs from the long-term toxic exposures to the collapsed buildings in lower Manhattan. The nation and eventually Congress stood behind our heroes,” Stewart says in the video. “But now more than ever we need to focus our support on the post-9-11 war veterans, who have been suffering from the debilitating effects of the massive toxic burn pits they were exposed to during service overseas. The effects have been horrific.”

Stewart is the first mainstream celebrity to throw his support behind the issue and is working with Texas-based advocacy group Burn Pits 360, which produced the new PSA.

“We are really honored that Jon Stewart is adding his voice to our cause of getting the federal government to respond to the health needs of its veterans who have been poisoned by toxins as a result of their service,” Rosie Lopez, co-founder of Burn Pits 360 told Fox News. “His work in getting Washington to respond to the needs of 9/11 responders and survivors injured by the toxins at Ground Zero shows that we can eventually get Washington to respond to the health crisis facing so many of our active-duty soldiers, sailors and marines and our veterans.”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, JON STEWART HEADLINE VETERANS’ FUNDRAISER

Westlake Legal Group dod-burnpits-4 Jon Stewart sets his sights on helping burn pit vets with new PSA Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/terror/september-11 fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/us fnc article 8e69cc9b-5e6c-5a3f-a735-d34cbd4e2ed9

Thousands of U.S. military personnel who served on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to the dense black smoke (Public Domain)

The new PSA from Stewart and Burn Pits 360 was born out of an increasing partnership between Lopez’s organization and advocates for 9-11 responders who recently saw the Victims Compensation fund approved by Congress.

“Many of the 9-11 Advocates served at 9-11 and in the military, many are veterans. Many suffered exposure both at 9-11 and in Iraq,” Lopez said. “Together we will walk the halls of Congress to seek justice for those affected, including the widows/Gold Star families.”

During the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the burn pit method was adopted originally as a temporary measure to get rid of waste and garbage generated on bases. Everything was incinerated in the pits, say soldiers, including plastics, batteries, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. The items were often set ablaze with jet fuel as the accelerant.

HERO 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER WITH CANCER DIES AT 53; TESTIFIED TO CONGRESS WITH JON STEWART

The pits burned more than 1,000 different chemical compounds day and night, and most service members breathed in toxic fumes with no protection.

The Investigative Unit at Fox News has reported extensively on the issues surrounding veterans made sick from their exposure to burn pits, and the lack of assistance once they feel ill.

Westlake Legal Group burnpit_marez-6 Jon Stewart sets his sights on helping burn pit vets with new PSA Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/terror/september-11 fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/us fnc article 8e69cc9b-5e6c-5a3f-a735-d34cbd4e2ed9

Burn pits, like this one at FOB Marez, were originally considered a temporary measure to get rid of huge amounts of waste generated at bases. The array of material sent to the pits is said to have included plastics, batteries, metals, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. (Courtesy of John Nelson)

Since 2016,  Fox reporting has led to scores of interviews with veterans and their families as well  as those who warned military officials during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan about the dangers of burn pits at bases like Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. They also included inspectors who answered directly to the Pentagon and urged them to stop using the flawed method for trash disposal.

The investigative unit also interviewed General David Petraeus, who was in charge of the U.S. military campaign during the time the burn pits were being used.

Burn Pits 360 is looking to help bring forth two new pieces of legislation that would help get veterans the assistance needed in their health care.

One is the Family Member Access to Burn Pit Registry Act (H.R. 1001), which would allow family members of deceased Service Members to participate in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry on their behalf with new registry entries. The second is the Burn Pits Revision Act (H.R. 1005) which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a diagnostic code and evaluation criteria for constrictive (obliterative) bronchiolitis, the most common symptom among those exposed to burn pits.

Lopez says the widows and their families are being denied death benefits at an alarming rate.

Allowing surviving family members to report deaths as well as the cause will help establish mortality rates related to conditions and diseases associated with burn pit exposure, she said.

A registry was created by the Veterans Administration in 2011, but signing it does not guarantee any form of assistance. Service members and their families concerned with the effects of burn-pit exposure say that they struggle to keep up with the high cost of medical treatments. There are more than 180,000 names signed to the VA registry, but it is estimated that 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits.

Westlake Legal Group stewart Jon Stewart sets his sights on helping burn pit vets with new PSA Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/terror/september-11 fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/us fnc article 8e69cc9b-5e6c-5a3f-a735-d34cbd4e2ed9   Westlake Legal Group stewart Jon Stewart sets his sights on helping burn pit vets with new PSA Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/terror/september-11 fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox-news/entertainment/celebrity-news fox news fnc/us fnc article 8e69cc9b-5e6c-5a3f-a735-d34cbd4e2ed9

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Former neighbors describe young Epstein as ‘nerdy,’ quiet with no signs of predatory behavior

The formative years of disgraced multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein apparently were vastly different from his time as a jet-setting financial titan accused of sexually abusing scores of underage women.

Epstein, who currently faces multiple charges of sex trafficking, was born and raised in Brooklyn and lived what seemed to be a normal, middle-class life – a far cry from his years of opulence and excess during adulthood.

Epstein was born on January 20, 1953 in Brooklyn and was the first child of Seymour G. Epstein, a groundskeeper for the New York City Department of Parks, and his wife Pauline, a school aide. He was the older of two siblings.

Epstein and his brother, Mark, were raised in the gated community of Sea Gate, a private enclave located on the western end of Coney Island.

Like many others in the neighborhood, Epstein’s upbringing was that of a solid, middle-class family. The family lived in a modest apartment in a three-family home located on Maple Avenue. Neighbors described the Epstein family as modest folk.

“They were so gentle, the most gentle people,” a former neighbor told The Daily Beast. “Simple. The most simple people in the world.”

The neighbor also described how they were amazed by young Jeffrey’s exceptional abilities in mathematics.

Westlake Legal Group Seagate Former neighbors describe young Epstein as 'nerdy,' quiet with no signs of predatory behavior Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article 0cccd99a-81f5-5b8a-89b7-1e875f9c69d2

Jeffrey Epstein grew up in Sea Gate, a private, gated community in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. (Google Street View)

“From simple to genius,” they told the website, adding that he was a quiet child.

“He was a little nerdy boy.”

Others described young Epstein as a typical, happy-go-lucky kid who started showing exceptional talent at an early age.

“Jeffrey’s a brilliant and good person,” childhood friend Gary Grossberg said in an interview for the biography “Filthy Rich,” written by novelist James Patterson. “He was a diamond in the rough, you see. People recognized Jeffrey’s brilliance early on.”

Others recalled how “advanced” he was.

“He tutored my girlfriend and me in the summer. He taught me geometry in just two months,” Beverly Donatelli said in her interview for the book. She was in school with Epstein at Lafayette High School in nearby Gravesend. She is two years older but was in the same class as Epstein because he had skipped two grades.

Donatelli said in her interview that she remembered Epstein as “a kindhearted boy” and something of a prodigy who was a gifted piano player and math whiz.

“I was talking to my girlfriends the other day,” she said. “There is nothing but nice we can say about him.”

“He is actually the reason I went to college.”

Donatelli also recalled how she believed the young Epstein had a crush on her.

“That last year in school, I think he kind of loved me,” she said during her interview. “One night on the beach he kissed me. In fact, our history teacher made up a mock wedding invitation for Jeffrey and myself to show the class.”

“That seems pretty inappropriate now. But back then, we all thought it was funny.”

James Rosen, a retired postal worker who also went to school with Epstein at Lafayette, said in his interview with Patterson that there were a lot of racial tensions at the time, but Epstein got through them unscathed.

“There was a lot of volatility at Lafayette,” Rosen said. “It was a blue-collar area that was, at one time, 90 percent Italian. Then a small amount of Jews moved in, and there was anti-Semitism. The Italians didn’t want the Jews there.”

“There were fights in the schools. They thought we were going to take over.”

Epstein seemed to have made friends easily. He was nicknamed “Eppy” among his pals and spent most of his time playing the piano and working on his prized stamp collection.

Westlake Legal Group jepsteinoffender Former neighbors describe young Epstein as 'nerdy,' quiet with no signs of predatory behavior Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article 0cccd99a-81f5-5b8a-89b7-1e875f9c69d2

Jeffrey Epstein’s picture in the Florida sex offender database.

Epstein graduated from Lafayette in 1969 at the age of 16 and started taking advanced math classes at Cooper Union in the East Village of Manhattan. Aside from his academic talents, he was not a standout on campus. He was just another kid from Brooklyn, according to a passage in “Filthy Rich.” He started earning money by tutoring classmates.

In 1971, he transferred to New York University where he enrolled in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences to study mathematical physiology but never graduated.

Two years later, Epstein started teaching at the prestigious Dalton School on the Upper East Side  He got his first taste of the good life at the tony institution, where he was teaching the children of New York’s elite. It also may have been where he first showed signs of predatory behavior.

Epstein often showed up for work pushing the limits on what was deemed appropriate within Dalton’s strict dress code, wearing a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest, according to The New York Times.

A former student told the newspaper that Epstein conducted himself in a strange manner with female students, giving them persistent attention and even showed up at a student party where teens were drinking.

“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘This is wrong,’” former student Scott Spizer told the newspaper.

Epstein was known for being charismatic and acting more like a friend to his students than their teacher.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-819b92324e534495b7a0608f725a6e28 Former neighbors describe young Epstein as 'nerdy,' quiet with no signs of predatory behavior Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article 0cccd99a-81f5-5b8a-89b7-1e875f9c69d2

In this courtroom artist’s sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

“He was goofy and like a kid himself,” Leslie Kitziger, who graduated in 1978, told the Times, adding that she remembered him as caring and attentive.

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Other former students who spoke with the newspaper remembered Epstein in a different light, citing how they would often see him flirting with female students.

“There was a real clarity of the inappropriateness of the behavior — that this isn’t how adult male teachers conduct themselves,” said Millicent Young, a former student during his tenure at Dalton.

Epstein was eventually asked to leave by school officials but the reasons were not clear.

“Epstein was a young teacher who didn’t come up to snuff,” Peter Branch, interim headmaster for Dalton at the time, told The Times.

“So, ultimately, he was asked to leave.”

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-court-sketch Former neighbors describe young Epstein as 'nerdy,' quiet with no signs of predatory behavior Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article 0cccd99a-81f5-5b8a-89b7-1e875f9c69d2   Westlake Legal Group Epstein-court-sketch Former neighbors describe young Epstein as 'nerdy,' quiet with no signs of predatory behavior Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article 0cccd99a-81f5-5b8a-89b7-1e875f9c69d2

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Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon’s ‘magnificent desolation’

During a 2012 interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto, astronaut Buzz Aldrin recalled the “magnificent desolation” he and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong witnessed when they landed on the Moon 50 years ago.

“You can see the horizon curving away.  Because of the sun– you can’t see the stars. It– closes up– the iris,” Aldrin recalled during the interview for a documentary entitled, “Fly Me to the Moon.”

“And you think, ‘This place, what I’m looking at, hasn’t changed in hundreds of thousands of years,’” he said. “And now, Neil [Armstrong] and I are looking at this magnificent desolation.”

APOLLO 11 ASTRONAUT MICHAEL COLLINS RECALLS EPIC LAUNCH: ‘WE FELT THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD ON OUR SHOULDERS’

He also spoke about the awesome responsibility bestowed upon him and his crewmates.

Westlake Legal Group buzz-aldrin-moon-business Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon's 'magnificent desolation' Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc article 1d21b1a5-3abf-59bf-a773-95fdc3c3c9e2

This July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA shows pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module. For the 50th anniversary of the landing, Omega issued a limited edition Speedmaster watch, a tribute to the one that Aldrin wore to the moon. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

“I prefaced desolate with magnificent, because of humanity’s reaching outward and accomplishing something that people thought was impossible,” Aldrin said. “They dreamed of somehow reaching the moon.  And to demonstrate, to be a part of demonstrating this miracle was magnificent.”

On July 16, 1969, Aldrin, along with mission commander Neil Armstrong and command module pilot Michael Collins, launched from Kennedy Space Center atop a Saturn V rocket. Four days later, Armstrong made history when he became the first person to walk on the Moon. Aldrin exited the lunar module 19 minutes after Armstrong. The famed astronaut joked about being second during his interview.

APOLLO 11 INSIDERS REMEMBER HISTORY’S MOST FAMOUS SPACE MISSION: ‘WE HAD A JOB TO DO AND WE DID IT’

“I will forever, no matter what I do, be known as the second man on the moon,” he quipped.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon's 'magnificent desolation' Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc article 1d21b1a5-3abf-59bf-a773-95fdc3c3c9e2

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

“Why does it bother you to be a second man to walk on the moon?  You’re one of a dozen men who had that incredible role,” Cavuto asked in a follow-up question.

“I prefaced desolate with magnificent, because of humanity’s reaching outward and accomplishing something that people thought was impossible.”

— Buzz Aldrin

“Well, people love being vice president, don’t they? No,” Aldrin responded with a chuckle. 

APOLLO 11’S EPIC MISSION TO THE MOON IN PICTURES

“Does it bother me?  Yeah, it does a little bit,” Aldrin continued. “Why?  Because that isn’t the way I would have described what this country did with two human beings landing on the moon and then deciding who was going to go out. We did things together as a team.” 

The famous astronaut also recalls his famous steps across the surface of the moon and how he was well aware that the world was watching.

“Right near the end of our period out there … Neil was doing something with the rock boxes– I knew where the TV camera was, and I jumped up and down and pranced around to demonstrate the mobility that a person has,” he said. “So I was demonstrating for the people watching on TV…intentionally showing them the varieties of kangaroo hop … of turning.”

APOLLO 11 INSIDERS REMEMBER HISTORY’S MOST FAMOUS SPACE MISSION: ‘WE HAD A JOB TO DO AND WE DID IT’

During his sit-down with Cavuto, Aldrin also recollected the experience of looking back at Earth while on the surface of the Moon.

“[You] look up there, there’s the earth.  It looks small when it’s up there.  If you look close, you may be able to see the ice over a pole,” he said.  “If you look at your Omega watch, you may be able to tell what time it is in Houston.”

Aldrin also talked about the political significance of their mission to the moon, coming as it did during the space race with Russia at the height of the Cold War.

APOLLO 11: ‘THE BOOK THAT LANDED MAN ON THE MOON’ COULD SELL FOR $9 MILLION

“I do a lot of thinking today– about somebody who had– the guts to see that we were being outshone– outshined in the Cold War by the Soviet Union, and to say, ‘What can we do’?” Aldrin said of President John F. Kennedy and his resolve to make the U.S. the first nation to reach the surface of the Moon.

The interview took place after NASA had shut down their Space Shuttle program in 2011 and Aldrin emphasized the need for the U.S. to get back into space and chart new territory.

Westlake Legal Group buzz-aldrin-neil-armstrong-apollo-11 Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon's 'magnificent desolation' Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc article 1d21b1a5-3abf-59bf-a773-95fdc3c3c9e2

Buzz Aldrin, on the left, practices scooping up a sample while Neil Armstrong, on the right, photographs the collection, during a practice session held before the Apollo 11 mission. (NASA Johnson)

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“I believe that this nation should commit itself within two decades to landing an American permanently on another planet in the solar system,” he said.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon's 'magnificent desolation' Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc article 1d21b1a5-3abf-59bf-a773-95fdc3c3c9e2   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3f4b692333824a04bc621cc319728faa Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin recalls the Moon's 'magnificent desolation' Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/topic/apollo-11 fox-news/science/air-and-space/spaceflight fox-news/science/air-and-space/nasa fox-news/science/air-and-space/moon fox news fnc/science fnc article 1d21b1a5-3abf-59bf-a773-95fdc3c3c9e2

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Human trafficking in America among worst in world: report

The United States is again ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. According to a recently released report by the State Department, the top three nations of origin for victims of human trafficking in 2018 were the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the Trafficking in Persons report, which is created annually by the State Department to document human trafficking in the year prior, and highlighted the growing focus that government agencies and nonprofit organizations have dedicated to stopping human trafficking. The Department of Justice provided more than $31 million for 45 victim service providers that offered services to trafficking survivors across the country. It was a demonstrable increase; the DOJ only provided $16 million to 18 organizations in 2017, according to the report.

At the heart of the human trafficking trade in America is simple economics: Supply and demand.

Over the last two months, Fox News has investigated human trafficking. We followed the enforcement efforts of FBI agents and police officers, documented the ways advocacy groups protect and serve survivors, and heard heart-wrenching stories of abuse, rape and recovery from numerous victims.

“The United States is the number one consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.”

— Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking

If there’s one takeaway from our reporting, it’s that the industry is fueled by an unceasing demand. It’s here that officers focus their enforcement actions. And it’s where advocates focus their education efforts to end the illicit trade.

“We have a major issue here in the United States” Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), said in an interview with Fox News. “The United States is the No. 1 consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.”

In 2018, the DOJ began 230 federal human trafficking prosecutions, a drop from 282 in 2017. Federal convictions rose from 499 in 2017 to 426 in 2018. More than 70 percent of the cases resulted in jail sentences of more than five years, according to the State Department report.

“These are American kids, American born, 50% to 60% of them coming out of the foster care industry.”

— Geoff Rogers

“We’re also driving the demand with our own people, with our own kids,” Rogers said. “So there are tremendous numbers of kids, a multitude of kids that are being sold as sex slaves today in America. These are American kids, American-born, 50 percent to 60 perform of them coming out of the foster care industry.”

This assertion is confirmed by the State Department’s report, which found that children in foster care, homeless youth, undocumented immigrant children and those with substance abuse problems especially at risk to fall into the human trafficking trap.

Rogers says that because the demand is so great in the U.S., traffickers are filling that demand with an increased supply of forced sex workers.

“So the demand here in the United States is a global one,” he said. “We do have men traveling the globe to go to places like Thailand and other places in East Asia to purchase sex with kids. But, in fact, the demand is so great that the supply has needed to be filled here in the United States.”

“Because of the demand, then these traffickers are filling that demand with supply. And the demand is so great here in the United States that they’re filling the supply with our very own kids,” Rogers continued.

According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, over 300,000 of America’s young population is considered at risk for sexual exploitation. It’s also estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the U.S. each year.

Corporal Alan Wilkett, of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, operates their local Human Trafficking Task Force. He believes the best way to combat the trade is to quell the demand.

Westlake Legal Group Wilkett Human trafficking in America among worst in world: report Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 204281ce-76eb-5675-a828-591c0a8270bf

Pasco County Sheriff’s Corporal Alan Wilkett uses his laptop from his service vehicle.

“Historically, we’ve allowed the sex buyer to hide behind a mask of anonymity and actually call them a ‘John,’” He said in an interview with Fox News. “We don’t even call them by their name, because we let them stay behind that mask. And the only way we’re going to attack the supply side is by going after the demand. And that means the sex buyer needs to be held culpable for the damage and trauma that he or she is causing.”

“Trafficking in America, if you are trafficked in the United States, 85 percent of victims that are trafficked here are from here.”

— Brook Bello, founder of More Too Life

While Wilkett and other law enforcement officers focus on arrests and sting operations, leaders in the nonprofit realm take a more holistic approach to healing survivors. Brook Bello, the founder of anti-trafficking organization More Too Life in Florida, focuses on helping develop skills to lead a successful post-trafficking life.

“We work with victims that are 3 years old and up,” Bello said. “The average victim that we work with, that’s over 18, started being raped at three. Trafficking in America, if you are trafficked in the United States, 85 percent of victims that are trafficked here are from here.”

The State Department’s report similarly echoes the domestic nature of sex trafficking in the United States. Despite the growing focus and concern surrounding human trafficking, gaps exist that leave victims and survivors without the care and resources they need to build a life beyond the abuse.

Westlake Legal Group Bello-2-PKG2 Human trafficking in America among worst in world: report Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 204281ce-76eb-5675-a828-591c0a8270bf

Brook Bello, founder of More Too Life in Florida, speaks with another woman.

“Advocates reported a significant lack of services available for men, boys, and LGBTI individuals and noted continued concern that some federal funding opportunities no longer highlight the need for services for LGBTI individuals,” the State Department said in its Trafficking in Persons report. “NGOs and survivor advocates continued to report insufficient access to emergency shelter, transitional housing, and long-term housing options for trafficking victims.”

Progress has been made on this front, but too often too many kids can’t fight their way out of the clutches of their traffickers. In cities across the nation, and along the highways that connect them, police and advocates continue their fight to eradicate human trafficking and heal those who survived.

This is the last article of a six part Fox News investigation into human trafficking in America. You can see the previous five television segments and articles here, One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

If you are being trafficked or suspect that someone you know is being trafficked contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or CYBERTIPLINE.ORG.

Westlake Legal Group Mike-Pompeo- Human trafficking in America among worst in world: report Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 204281ce-76eb-5675-a828-591c0a8270bf   Westlake Legal Group Mike-Pompeo- Human trafficking in America among worst in world: report Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 204281ce-76eb-5675-a828-591c0a8270bf

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Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care

Human trafficking is an issue so complex and wide-ranging that law enforcement alone isn’t enough. Combating these crimes and helping the victims demands the efforts of advocates who operate outside the normal duties of the justice system.

Even government agencies as vast and well-funded as the FBI come up short in their efforts to address every aspect of crime prevention and victim rehabilitation. Case in point: The vast network of advocacy groups relied upon by the FBI to help meet the hierarchy of needs for human trafficking survivors.

“I think that if you do this work for very long, as many of us have, you realize that no one agency can do it all, particularly with these kids, these victims, because their needs are so varied and complex,” Kathryn Turman, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s victim services division. “The NGOs (non-governmental organizations) play a wonderful role because they can raise money, they can provide long-term services.”

Westlake Legal Group KATHRYNTURMAN Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 564779d2-95f8-5a63-9c03-51b0b2c2e93f

Kathryn Turman, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Victim Services Division.

The problem has attracted swarms of advocates and activists dedicated to education, prevention and post-trafficking care for survivors.

Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is an organization founded in 2009 by long-haul truckers to stop the proliferation of sex trafficking among their ranks. The organization hopes to stop trafficking by lessening the demand for trafficking among truckers.

“I see myself as part of a mobile army, and we travel our nation’s highways and byways and we work in conjunction with law enforcement,” Gary Smith, an ambassador with TAT said. “There’s a lot of us daily out on these roads than there is law enforcement.”

Theresa Flores is a sex trafficking survivor who founded the group Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.). Her organization functions in several states and puts on outreach programs during large events, like Super Bowls and political conferences, which often attract traffickers.

TRAFFICKING’S INVISIBLE VICTIMS: BOYS TRAPPED IN THE SEX TRADE

Westlake Legal Group THERESAFLORES Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 564779d2-95f8-5a63-9c03-51b0b2c2e93f

Theresa Flores, the founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.

Additionally, S.O.A.P. partners “with local organizations to distribute millions of bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number … and resources to high-risk motels,” according to the organization’s website.

“The subproject is a part of many different coalitions and collaboratives,” Flores said. “We’ll go into a city in a state that we’ve never been to, but we have to part with others that are local. That’s what we want to do because when we leave, we want them to continue on the efforts. It’s not just a one-time shot.”

THE ‘VILLAGE’ OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES BATTLING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Westlake Legal Group SOAP Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 564779d2-95f8-5a63-9c03-51b0b2c2e93f

The bars of soap passed out to motels in high-trafficking areas by Theresa Flores and her advocacy group, S.O.A.P.

Another organizer who has devoted her professional life to fighting trafficking is Andrea Powell. She’s been working with victims of trafficking since 2003, when she founded FAIR Girls, an international anti-trafficking organization. More recently, she started Karana Rising, a Washington D.C.-area nonprofit dedicated to helping survivors of trafficking heal and find meaningful education and employment.

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“We focus on providing young people who were at risk or have experienced trafficking with job skills, life skills and a connection to the community to help them either overcome or stay safe from situations of trafficking,” Powell said of Karana Rising.

Westlake Legal Group SOAP Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 564779d2-95f8-5a63-9c03-51b0b2c2e93f   Westlake Legal Group SOAP Human trafficking victims call upon advocates for care Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 564779d2-95f8-5a63-9c03-51b0b2c2e93f

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Trafficking’s invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade

If there’s a public face to human trafficking it’s usually that of a young teenage girl, but across the country a new type of victim is increasingly coming to the fore.

More and more, young boys are being preyed upon and exploited in the sex trade, and advocates are beginning to take notice.

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-4 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23

Geoff Rogers and Kevin Malone at their Florida-based home for boys who have been sex trafficked. (Fox News)

“When you think about the magnitude of the problem, the number of kids being sold for sex here in America, most people think of girls,” Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United State Institute against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), said in an interview with Fox News, “and certainly there’s a tremendous number of girls being sold. But if we look at one particular study funded by the Department of Justice … that study identified an estimated 36 percent of kids that are trafficked are boys.”

While attention is focused on female victims and survivors, most of the public is unaware that boys, some as young as 10, are forced into the dark world of trafficking. Making matter worse, services to help these young men escape a life of trafficking are virtually nonexistent.

“As we traveled the country, we couldn’t find really any services for boys,” Rogers says.

“I realized at the Super Bowl that these traffickers were selling boys, and sometimes dressing them up as little girls, that it kind of opened my eyes to the problem.”

— Kevin Malone

Along with USIAHT co-founder Kevin Malone, Rogers set out to help the young male survivors of trafficking.

“I noticed when I went to the Super Bowl in Phoenix a few years ago, that there were … boys being trafficked there,” Malone, who is also a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, tells Fox News. “What we found, even there, were little boys dressed up as girls and being sold.”

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-2 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23

Kevin Malone and Geoff Rogers.

“So I think that was the first time I realized, apart from when I was in Thailand and met a 5-year-old boy that had been trafficked, but in America when I realized at the Super Bowl that these traffickers were selling boys, and sometimes dressing them up as little girls, it kind of opened my eyes to the problem,” Malone said.

Exact numbers and the full scope of male victimization are not known. But according to a 2016 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 36 percent of children forced into the U.S. sex industry were male. A 2008 study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice suggests that boys made up nearly half of children who were sexually exploited in New York City.

“Every child and the experiences that they’ve had is very, very different, especially when it comes to the boys.”

— Geoff Rogers

Both Malone and Rogers, through their organization, set out to help these faceless kids, and in 2017 they opened the first safe home for young male trafficking victims.

“This safe home is for young boys that have been sex trafficked. They’re from the ages of 10 to 17. And it’s been an incredible process to work with these young kids, to really learn first-hand the differences between how boys are trafficked compared to girls,” Rogers said. “Because they’ve really — they’ve never seen a program like this before. Every child and the experiences that they’ve had is very, very different, especially when it comes to the boys.”

Westlake Legal Group boyshome-3 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23

Kevin Malone at his Florida-based home for boys who have been sex trafficked.

Fox News was given unprecedented access to the boys’ home. Opened in 2017 by USIAHT in a remote location of Florida, it’s thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.

The facility can house up to six young male survivors at any given time.

“Over the last two years, we’ve worked with boys 15, 16, 17 years old. That’s been predominantly who we worked with, up until several weeks ago, when we got the first phone call about a 10-year-old boy,” Rogers said. “And so I’ll tell you, from our staff standpoint, I mean, we’ve been working’ with these boys now for two years, but when we got the phone call with the 10-year-old, it was almost like a collective ‘hold your breath.’”

Rogers said each boy’s story puts a spotlight on what is needed to combat this growing situation.

“What we recognize is that’s really on what we’d call the back end of the problem. And so it’s the rescue, the rehabilitation of these victims,” he said.

“So I believe the biggest problem we have is the lack of empathy, and a lack of compassion, and a lack of concern by Americans who really are generally the most loving, and concerning, and giving, and helpful people in the world.”

— Kevin Malone

Many of the residents of the USIAHT’s safe home were coerced into a life of sexual slavery before they were able to leave that existence behind.

Some examples:

•    “Alex” was 13 when he ran away from foster care.  At a bus station, he met a man who offered to let Alex live with him in exchange for sex.  Eventually, the man forced Alex to begin having sex with other men to keep his room in the home.  Alex believed that he had no choice and did not want to go back to foster care, so he complied, fearing that he would have no place live or have meals to eat if he said no.

Alex was discovered and rescued by an undercover police officer after Alex’s picture went up on an escort site.

•    “Ryan” was a teenager when his mom first sold him for sex with an older man.  Eventually, his mom convinced several of Ryan’s friends to sell themselves as well.  Although she paid them a small amount, she kept most of the profits for herself.  Eventually, the sex trafficking ring was discovered by the authorities and Ryan was placed in foster care.

•    “Jonah” was kicked out of his home when he told his parents he was gay.  He was living on the street when two men offered him a room in their house.  It wasn’t long before he learned that this generosity was a ploy.  He was only allowed to stay if he had sex with them and their friends.

“There are no throwaway kids,” Malone said. “Even though 50 to 60 percent are coming out of foster care, those are our kids. We’re a community. We’re a nation. We need to protect our kids.”

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-1 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23

Shoes of the boys who are staying at the Florida-based home.

“So I believe the biggest problem we have is the lack of empathy, and a lack of compassion, and a lack of concern by Americans who really are generally the most loving, and concerning, and giving, and helpful people in the world,” Malone said.

The USIAHT’s safe home is staffed with care workers around the clock to provide service to up to six residents at any given time. They assist with counseling and helping these young men adjust to a normal life.

“And so with these boys, most of them, really all of them now, are going to public school. Some of them now have cellphones that they can check in and check out,” Rogers said. “Some of ’em have some social media access. They’re on Xbox. They’re on the Internet. It’s all monitored, of course.

“But what we’re really doing is trying to give them the most normal environment possible,” Rogers continued. “Because really it’s a recognition that these are just kids. They’re just teenagers.”

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-4 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23   Westlake Legal Group boys-home-4 Trafficking's invisible victims: Boys trapped in the sex trade Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 41c6eefc-c924-5b18-afab-0d338f620a23

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Boys are invisible victims in sex trafficking

If there’s a public face of the victims of human trafficking it’s usually that of a young teenage girl, but across the country, a new type of victim is increasingly coming to the forefront.

Young boys are increasingly preyed upon and exploited in the sex trade, and advocates are beginning to take notice.

“If we look at one particular study funded by the Department of Justice…that study identified an estimated 36% of kids that are trafficked are boys.”

— Geoff Rogers

“[W]hen you think about the magnitude of the problem, the number of kids being sold for sex here in America, most people think of girls,” Geoff Rogers, Co-Founder of the United State Institute against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) said in an interview with Fox News, “and certainly there’s a tremendous number of girls being sold. But if we look at one particular study funded by the Department of Justice…that study identified an estimated 36% of kids that are trafficked are boys.”

THE ‘VILLAGE’ OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES BATTLING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-4 Boys are invisible victims in sex trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc f817f2af-070f-5aa5-8605-4d74a887933c article Andrew Keiper

Geoff Rogers and Kevin Malone at their Florida-based home for boys who have been sex trafficked. (Fox News)

Fox News was given unprecedented access to a safe home for boys that was started by the USIAHT Opened in 2017 by the institute in an undisclosed and remote location in Florida, the home is the first in the US that helps young men escape the clutches of human trafficking and start over with the chance at a normal life.

On Tonight’s Fox Report with Jon Scott, you’ll get a first look at the facility, which is currently the only one of its kind in operation.

INSIDE LAW ENFORCEMENT’S EFFORTS TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Westlake Legal Group boyshome-3 Boys are invisible victims in sex trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc f817f2af-070f-5aa5-8605-4d74a887933c article Andrew Keiper

Kevin Malone at his Florida-based home for boys who have been sex trafficked. (Fox News)

“This safe home is for young boys that have been sex trafficked. They’re from the ages of 10 to 17. And it’s been an incredible process to work with these young kids, to really learn firsthand the differences between how boys are trafficked compared to girls,” Rogers said. “Because they’ve really– they’ve never seen a program like this before. Every child and the experiences that they’ve had is very, very different, especially when it comes to the boys.”

Exact numbers and scope of male victims are not known but according to a 2016 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 36% of children forced into the U.S. Sex industry were male. A 2008 study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice suggests that boys made up nearly 50 percent of children who were sexually exploited in the City of New York.

The USIAHT’s safe home is staffed with care workers around the clock to provide service to up to six residents at any given time. They assist with counseling and helping these young men adjust to a normal life.

“And so with these boys, most of them, really all of them now, are going to public school. Some of them now have cellphones that they can check in and check out,” Rogers said. “Some of ’em have some social media access. They’re on Xbox. They’re on the internet. It’s all monitored, of course.

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“But what we’re really doing is trying to give them the most normal environment possible. Because really it’s a recognition that these are just kids. They’re just teenagers.”

Westlake Legal Group boys-home-2 Boys are invisible victims in sex trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc f817f2af-070f-5aa5-8605-4d74a887933c article Andrew Keiper   Westlake Legal Group boys-home-2 Boys are invisible victims in sex trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/us/crime fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc f817f2af-070f-5aa5-8605-4d74a887933c article Andrew Keiper

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The ‘village’ of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking

When people fall prey to sex traffickers, it can take a village of law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations to pull them from the sex work they’re forced to endure. Detectives, officers and FBI agents often coordinate efforts to rescue those who are trapped and put their abusers behind bars.

The ease with which traffickers transport their victims makes the work of investigators and law enforcement agencies even more complicated. The women are often sold online — and raped in person. Much of the police work is done on the Internet, a task that can weigh on investigators enduring long hours and reviewing endless streams of disturbing content.

As part of an ongoing investigation into the practice of human trafficking, in which someone is sold into sexual exploitation or forced labor, Fox News interviewed law enforcement officials at state and federal levels to better understand efforts to stop the shocking practice.

Those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors.

— Pasco County Sheriff’s Corporal Alan Wilkett

“They’re hiding in plain sight,” said Cpl. Alan Wilkett, a veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. “The trafficker is comfortable in that there’s such high transit [on the highways] that it becomes difficult to spot the activity.”

Wilkett, who spearheads a human trafficking task force for Pasco County, told Fox that highways are often used to transport trafficking victims from city to city, where they are forced to “work” by their captors.

“If a trafficker is getting his victim from one place to another, for instance, a high-end or high-populace activity that’s happening in Tampa … he’s going to use the I-4 corridor,” Wilkett said. “In fact, those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors,” he explained. 

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Pasco County Sheriff’s Cpl. Alan Wilkett uses his laptop from his service vehicle.

Law enforcement task forces, often coordinated between different agencies, are a common tactic to combat a variety of crimes – including human trafficking. Often, the FBI will partner with a local police department to conduct sting operations on traffickers. Such is the case in Toledo, Ohio, where Det. Peter Swartz leads the department’s efforts in the fight.

Swartz, who focuses full time on human trafficking, pulls double duty as a detective for the Toledo Police Department and a field agent for the FBI. He said he sees victims from across the country who have been trafficked through Toledo.

“They were on their way to Florida, Atlanta, Georgia. You know, Orlando, Tampa,” he said. “We know some victims end up there and some of our traffickers end up there,” Swartz told Fox.

A lot of the cases that we work with, the predators, the pimps, the trafficker are getting substantial sentences for turning out our kids.

— Toledo Police Department Detective Peter Swartz

Swartz said he gets fulfillment from the work, even though he’s often dealing with minors who have been trafficked against their will. More importantly, he said the people coercing them into forced sex work are facing consequences.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS MOSTLY UNDERAGE CHILDREN FROM WITHIN THE US

“I think we’ve made a significant difference as far as sex trafficking,” Swartz said. “A lot of the cases that we work with, the predators, the pimps, the trafficker are getting substantial sentences for turning out our kids,” he added.

Having investigators focusing specifically on sex trafficking, like Swartz, has become increasingly important as sex trafficking continues to become more commonplace. In Ohio, the attorney general’s human trafficking commission reported that law enforcement agencies across the state investigated 242 instances of human trafficking in 2017. It made 80 arrests and secured 61 convictions.

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Toledo Police Department Det. Peter Swartz in an interview with Fox News.

Swartz said a large portion of his day consists of following up on tips he’s given by different organizations like Crime Stoppers, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the local Missing Persons Bureau.

“Basically, we use an undercover officer to call an ad that may be advertising for escorting, but we know it’s an ad for prostitution,” Swartz said. “Then we’ll try to recover them and find out what’s going on with them and what led [them] to this work,” he told Fox.

Most of the victims are folks that are in such vulnerable positions they are not able to make their own decisions.

— FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney

The enforcement tactics use by Swartz and the Toledo police are much the same as those used by the FBI. William Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the New York field office, said the agency has increased its focuses and resources to fight human trafficking.

“Most of the victims are folks that are in such vulnerable positions they are not able to make their own decisions,” Sweeney said, adding that “they are exploited by perpetrators all across the region.”

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Jon Scott talks with Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney and FBI Special Agent Brian Gander.

Sweeney and his agents participate in the FBI’s flagship human trafficking enforcement action, Operation Cross Country. In 2017, the agency conducted its 11th iteration of the sting operation. According to a report released by the bureau, the operation took place “in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners.”

Operation Cross Country XI recovered 84 minors and arrested 120 traffickers. The focus of the operation was specifically on underage victims. Some critics of the effort have complained that the operation needlessly sweeps up willing sex workers, charging them with felonies and further perpetuating a lifestyle of crime. Still, few argue with the necessity of pulling teens from a life of rape and abuse. 

“That renewed focus, I think, has also led to increased reporting and then increased prosecutions and increased attention,” Sweeney said. “So it really seems to feed upon itself – which is good in the fact that we’re helping victims, [and] obviously bad in the fact that you realize how pervasive it actually is.” 

If you are being trafficked or suspect that someone you know is being trafficked contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or CYBERTIPLINE.ORG.

Westlake Legal Group pkg3cover2 The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc   Westlake Legal Group pkg3cover2 The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc

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Inside law enforcement’s efforts to end human trafficking

Westlake Legal Group pkg3-cover Inside law enforcement's efforts to end human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc ca49a5ce-da53-5947-a317-87da73b8d634 article Andrew Keiper

The horrors of human trafficking are often hidden in plain sight.

Most of the public sees this horrific crime as one that happens elsewhere—far away from their backyards, but the shocking reality is that human trafficking is pervasive across the United States and the next victim could be right next door.

As part of an ongoing investigation into human trafficking, Fox News interviewed law enforcement officials at the state and federal levels to better understand their efforts to stop the shocking forced sex trade.

UNDERTOW OF EXPLOITATION: HOW TEENS GET TRAPPED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING

“They’re hiding in plain sight,” Corporal Alan Wilkett, a veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff in Florida, said. “The trafficker is comfortable in that there’s such high transit [on the highways] that it becomes difficult to spot the activity.”

“Those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors.”

— Corporal Alan Wilkett

Wilkett, who spearheads a human trafficking task force for Pasco County, says that highways are often used to transport victims from city to city, where their captors force them to work.

“If a trafficker is getting his victim from one place to another, for instance, a high end or high populace activity that’s happening in Tampa,” Wilkett said. “So he’s going to use the I-4 corridor. In fact, those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors.”

LAWSUITS UNVEIL ALLEGED CULTURE OF TEEN SEX ABUSE IN LOUISVILLE POLICE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM

Law enforcement task forces, often coordinated between different agencies, are a common tactic to combat a variety of crimes – including human trafficking. Often, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will partner with a local police department to conduct sting operations on traffickers. Such is the case in Toledo, Ohio, where Det. Peter Swartz leads the department’s efforts in the fight.

Swartz, who focuses full time on human trafficking, pulls double duty as a detective for the Toledo Police Department and a field agent for the FBI. He said he sees victims that have been trafficked through Toledo from across the country.

“They were on their way to Florida, Atlanta, Georgia. You know, Orlando, Tampa,” he said. “We know some victims end up there and some of our traffickers end up there.”

Swartz said he gets fulfillment from the work, even though he’s often dealing with minors who have been trafficked against their will. More importantly, he said the people coercing the teens into forced sex work are facing consequences.

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“I think we’ve made a significant difference as far as sex trafficking,” Swartz said. “A lot of the cases that we work with, the predators, the pimps, the traffickers are getting substantial sentences for turning out our kids.”

Westlake Legal Group pkg3-cover Inside law enforcement's efforts to end human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc ca49a5ce-da53-5947-a317-87da73b8d634 article Andrew Keiper   Westlake Legal Group pkg3-cover Inside law enforcement's efforts to end human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc ca49a5ce-da53-5947-a317-87da73b8d634 article Andrew Keiper

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Human trafficking victims mostly underage children from within the US

Every year more than 40 million people are forced into the world of human trafficking, someone’s sons and daughters trapped in this modern-day slavery.

It’s everyday Americans who are the most common victims of human trafficking, with some as young as 10 years old being traded or sold for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Trafficking is a persistent problem in the United States and across the globe. While awareness has been raised in recent years, most are unaware of how widespread the problem is. Occurring everywhere from major cities to idyllic rural communities, trafficking traps people in a dark, insidious criminal world.

“Five men came in and it went from a Friday night to a Sunday morning — constantly. There was no sleep or break or anything it was just constantly being attacked by these men, and they kept giving me drugs and giving me liquor. And they just kept me hopped up.” 

— “C,” human trafficking survivor

The Investigative Unit at Fox News has spent the past several months examining this growing issue, and the findings are shocking. Those who are sold into this forced life are often people from within the U.S.

The “average person seems to think it’s a foreign national who’s come from really far away. That they’re smuggled in illegally. But the truth of the matter is in the years that I’ve worked with survivors of trafficking, over 90 percent are U.S. citizens,” Andrea Powell, founding president ofthe advocacy group Karana Rising, told Fox News during a recent interview in Washington, D.C.

“She [the victim] is lured by someone pretending to be a father figure or more accurately usually a boyfriend or sort of a combination of both,” Powell adds. “I’ve worked with over a thousand survivors of trafficking and I can think of two or three fathers who were involved in the lives of their daughters before they were trafficked.”

Fox News interview a number of sex trafficking survivors and nearly all of them had a similar story.

“[I was a] 15-year-old girl with alcohol and drug issues who just thought she’d faced death. So, he picked me out,” Said “C,” who asked that her name be withheld. She recalled how she got forced into the dark world of sex work when she was just a young teenager from a broken home.

“We actually met on a video game. And ended up chatting. And I think he just knew by the way I talked and how I presented myself to something he was a little different because he kept prodding questions about where was I and if I was OK. And you know he made it seem like he really cared about me. So eventually I started opening up.”

Westlake Legal Group ab6ff8e9-Trafficking_Still1_PKG1 Human trafficking victims mostly underage children from within the US Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/world fnc article Andrew Keiper 0a062c26-70ce-5bac-9432-5c9458c77284

“C” who asked that her identity be withheld, recalled in a recent interview how she was forced into sex work when she was just a young teenager from a broken home.

C says that the man eventually picked her up and took her across the country on his trucking runs. At first, everything seemed normal about the new friendship between them.

“We were in North Carolina, actually, he took me out for dinner and he got me really drunk and when we got back to the hotel he told me that it would mean a lot to him if I would make his friends happy.”

“Five men came in and it went from a Friday night to a Sunday morning — constantly. There was no sleep or break or anything it was just constantly being attacked by these men, and they kept giving me drugs and giving me liquor. And they just kept me hopped up.”

C’s tale is all too common. Thousands of young women in the U.S. are preyed upon by someone promising them the world.

Kylee Gregg, 18, an advocate and former trafficking victim from Toledo, Ohio, said she was just 10 when she was befriended by a couple who seemingly wanted to help her escape an abusive mother.

“I was more or less on my own and I was befriended by this boy a few years older than me and he saw that I didn’t really always have a place to sleep or didn’t always have food because my mother was in the habit of kicking me out,” Gregg said to Fox News, “And he said well you come with me and I can give you someplace to sleep, some food. And so his family, they kind of got me to trust them. And then once I trusted them, they revealed their true nature, which was that they were a sex trafficking ring.”

Gregg recalls being trapped in this dark underworld for nearly four years.

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18-year-old Kylee Gregg of Toledo, Ohio, is a former trafficking victim and advocate who was just 10 when she was befriended by a couple who seemingly wanted to help her escape an abusive mother. Instead, she was trafficked by the couple for nearly four years.

“It was a living hell. I was on different substances and different drugs depending on the day,” she says. “I had to have an illegal abortion when I was 11. That was performed on me by another girl who was in the trafficking ring. She was 13, and she had already had a legal abortion herself earlier in her life.”

Gregg is now attending college and works with advocacy groups to help bring awareness to trafficking by sharing her story.

“It was awful. It is like really terrible. And I feel like it’s something that a lot of people think doesn’t happen here. [That] it doesn’t happen in their neighborhoods and it does.”

William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, says that it’s the most vulnerable who are preyed upon — and it often happens in plain sight.

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The assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, William Sweeney, says that it’s the most vulnerable that are preyed upon — and it often happens in plain sight. His field office operates a human trafficking task force in conjunction with the New York City Police Department.

“It’s often targeting the most vulnerable in society, people that you might walk by every day– whether you go through a transit hub, whether you’re at a hotel, and something that doesn’t capture your attention right off the bat,” Sweeney said in a recent interview with Fox Report anchor Jon Scott.

If you are being trafficked or suspect that someone you know is being trafficked contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or CYBERTIPLINE.ORG.

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