Courts & Crime

Human trafficking is target of new federal initiative

Western Missouri and Kansas will be the focus of one of six new federal law enforcement teams targeting human trafficking, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday.

Housed in Kansas City, the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team is designed to “streamline” criminal investigations and prosecution of violators of federal slavery laws, authorities said.

In a written statement, U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips of western Missouri said the initiative means that more prosecutors and additional agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security will develop human trafficking cases. The district already has a human trafficking task force that has prosecuted several high-profile cases, she noted.

“We are committed to build on that success and to take aggressive steps now to advance the work of the task force,” Phillips said.

In his own written statement, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom of Kansas said the additional resources will be welcome.

“The anti-trafficking team will give us the tools we need to fight this cruel, despicable practice wherever we find it.”

Other such teams will operate in Atlanta; Los Angeles; Miami; El Paso, Texas; and Memphis, Tenn. The team will include federal prosecutors and agents, and will identify and target human trafficking threats.

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