By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J., (CBS) — It’s not a reputation any state would want, but experts say New Jersey has become a hub for human trafficking.
At a summit on human trafficking Friday in Trenton, the State Attorney General’s Office described efforts to step up enforcement, awareness, training and victim services.
“In essence human trafficking is modern day slavery. In New Jersey what it looks like is forced fraud or coercion, exploiting people for labor or commercial sexual activity,” says Tracy Thompson, Assistant Attorney General.
Thompson says New Jersey’s geographical location between Philadelphia and New York as well as large minority population makes it ripe for human trafficking.
Her office is working on several initiatives to better educate citizens and law enforcement on human trafficking and is especially focused on the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands.
Hotels, taxis, limos and many more hospitality industry leaders are receiving training on preventing human trafficking.
Human trafficking survivor Barbara Amaya spoke at the summit about being forced into prostitution from age 13 to 21.
“I thought for so many years after I escaped that life that I had just been a prostitute. There are victims right now as we speak that don’t know they are victims,” says Amaya.
Individuals who are, or believe they may know, a victim of human trafficking are encouraged to call the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-END-NJ-HT (855-363-6548). The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.