Human trafficking task force reviews data, discusses ways to crack down

Lawmakers from different backgrounds are working to come up with new laws that will help combat human trafficking.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:19 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Before lawmakers return to the Louisiana State Capitol for the next legislation session, some of them are working with people from different backgrounds to develop new laws to help combat human trafficking.

The lawmakers say what we have now simply isn’t enough.

“The systems that we have set up to find victims of human trafficking are set up in a way that we find the victims almost unrelated to the trafficker,” said Clay Walker, director of JUV SVC in Caddo Parish.

The task force is chaired by Sen. Beth Mizell, a Republican from Franklinton. She says there was a lot she was unaware of when it came to how our laws around human trafficking were set up.

“I wasn’t aware that when a call was made to DCFS that they couldn’t release the name of the caller if it was a trafficking case. I think that’s something we need to look at because that would make a real hindrance to protecting that child’s welfare,” Sen. Mizell says.

According to records used in Monday’s discussion, the amount human trafficking victims surpasses the amount who have been charged or convicted of that crime.

“There was a terrible case of a man coming from Texas bringing his own two children to exchange with a man in Shreveport his two children. A lot of times if you do get an arrest, we’re not getting the conviction because making the child testify is difficult,” Walker added.

And massage parlors often are cesspools for human trafficking.

“I can tell you right now in the state of Louisiana, there’s three or four thousand, as far as immigrants, that are trafficked from China that are brought here from flights to New York, brought on busses, all the way down to Louisiana. And there’s a minimum of two to three girls in every one of those massage parlors that are being trafficked,” said Benjamin White, a representative with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association.

“If we say they can’t even call it a massage facility because the city won’t sanction it, then we’re coming at it from a different angle. Kind of like the gambling houses that weren’t licensed to be gambling houses type thing,” Sen. Mizell explained.

The task force will submit its final report at the end of February. They say in the meetings between now and then that they’ll be exploring new ways to have more incentives for police departments to have more sting operations. The discussions will also include ways to hold some of the landlords who lease to massage parlors accountable.

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