NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — A new Nevada state law was put into January 2014, aimed to assist federal laws in fighting the ongoing problem of human trafficking.
According to the Nevada Attorney General’s website, human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery and is a serious international problem.
“This is a complex crime,” said Gwendolyn Pascoe, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force director. “The victims may be threatened so it’s not as easy as them saying I need help.
“That’s what makes this crime different from any other crime.”
The new law has two separate statutes outlawing human trafficking. What distinguishes them is whether the defendant’s motive is trafficking for financial gain or trafficking for illegal purposes.
Trafficking for financial gain is to transport another person into Nevada when the purpose is for money or other financial gain. A defendant may be liable even if they merely arranged or assisted in transporting the victim.
Trafficking for illegal purposes is to transport another person into Nevada with the intent to Subject the person to involuntary servitude, Violate any state or federal labor law or Commit a felony in Nevada.
People involved in human trafficking may be punished as harshly as a person who commits murder depending on the circumstances. Breaking this new law can bring penalties that may include up to life in prison or a half a million dollars in fines.
Along with the state and federal punishment, victims may bring civil suits against people who transported them or profited from their trafficking. Victims may receive compensation for actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, triple damages and attorney’s fees depending on the case.
According to United States federal law, human trafficking is broken into two categories — sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
Sex trafficking is a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act is under age 18.
Labor trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has rescued 2,229 victims of sex trafficking since 1994. Metro rescued 107 children victimized by human traffickers, according to ag.nv.gov just last year.
“Most victims of sex trafficking don’t [report it],” Pascoe said. This makes it especially important to keep an eye out for signs of human trafficking.
There are a number of indicators which can help alert you to human trafficking.
- Appearing malnourished.
- Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse.
- Avoiding eye contact, social interaction and authority figures such as law enforcement.
- Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction.
- Lacking official identification documents.
- Appearing destitute or lacking personal possessions.
- Working excessively long hours.
- Living at place of employment.
- Checking into hotels or motels with older males and referring to those males as boyfriend or daddy, which is often street slang for pimp.
- Poor physical or dental health.
- Tattoos or branding on the neck or lower back.
- Untreated sexually transmitted diseases.
- Small children serving in a family restaurant.
- Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment such as barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows.
- Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves.
To report suspected human trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.