Richmond FBI: Human trafficking cases rising in Virginia
The FBI Richmond Division says it has seen an uptick in cases of human and sex trafficking across Virginia.
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -The FBI Richmond Division has seen an uptick in human and sex trafficking cases across Virginia. The division mentioned that these cases are happening everywhere, from hotels to highways.
Most sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens, whereas most labor trafficking victims are non-US citizens, according to the division.
“Human trafficking is basically when someone’s compelled to provide a service or provide labor,” said Melvin Gonzalez, Acting Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI Richmond Division. “We investigate commercial sex when it becomes a trafficking situation when the person is compelled either by force, fraud or coercion.”
The division said the public plays a role in picking up signs to spot trafficking, especially at hotels. Workers should look for signs of multiple guests coming through each day and guests not requesting services. Signs of trafficking may also be apparent at various places of work.
“If someone is not allowed to freely move from a specific job or if someone is observed working at the same location long hours, extensive hours a week,” Gonzalez said.
The division stated that it’s also a common misconception that victims are held by force or against their will. Most cases involve an element of coercion.
“A predator who has identified a potential victim who might be in need of making some kind of income, and they’re lured into commercial sex,” said Gonzalez.
The FBI said it’s continuing to work with local agencies to push initiatives to make the community more aware of these trafficking cases.
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