Human trafficking a real issue across U.S.

ALLEN MINCEY Banner Staff Writer
Posted 5/18/16

It’s called human trafficking, but FBI Special Agent Cynthia Deitle told the Rotary Club of Cleveland Tuesday that it is really slavery.

Deitle was the special guest speaker of the week for …

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Human trafficking a real issue across U.S.

Posted

It’s called human trafficking, but FBI Special Agent Cynthia Deitle told the Rotary Club of Cleveland Tuesday that it is really slavery.

Deitle was the special guest speaker of the week for the Rotary Club, and focused on the problem of human trafficking. While probably not the most appealing topic for a meeting held at lunch, it was one that had club members extremely interested.

“Human trafficking involves the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud or coercion,” the FBI agent stated. If the person involved in these acts is under 18 years of age it is a crime, whether or not force is used.

Deitle said that the most prevalent crime associated with human trafficking is prostitution.

“That’s our biggest problem, and it happens everywhere — in the United States, in Tennessee and even here,” she said.

The FBI agent, who is based in the Knoxville office, added that others who become victims may be involved in agricultural work, factories, domestic help/child care, construction, landscaping, begging/street peddling, restaurant work, hotel housekeeping and day labor.

Deitle presented statistics to the Rotarians, including that victims of human trafficking are typically in their late teens to early 20s, mostly Caucasian, and are using illegal drugs. She added that undocumented immigrants and vulnerable youth are easily victimized.

She did note that the youngest age of what she calls “prime victims” is between 10 to 12 years of age.

Deitle said that while the FBI and other law enforcement agencies work at reducing human trafficking, it is a problem that the general public can be watching for and assist in fighting by reporting it to authorities.

“We have to partner with you,” Deitle said. “We have the responsibility of helping (the victims) and getting them in a safe place, and it is something that we do, but it is also a community responsibility.”

She said that agencies meet quarterly to discuss the issue, share intelligence and plan training sessions. Deitle also said that anyone who feels they have knowledge of possible human trafficking in Tennessee can call the TBI’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-800-55-TNHTH.

“If you feel you have seen instances of human trafficking, even if you are not sure, contact the hotline and report it,” she said. “Local law enforcement wants to work at reducing this problem so they also would love to have help from the public.”

Deitle can be reached at the FBI Knoxville office at 865-602-7207.

The Rotary Club of Cleveland’s meeting next Tuesday will be at the Cleveland Jetport at noon. Members are expected to take tours of the jetport and the new hangar for Erlanger’s Hospital’s Life Force medical helicopter.

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