Police Targeting Sex Traffickers in New Jersey

In a number of sting operations around the state of New Jersey, police have nabbed and arrested individuals in various sex trafficking schemes. Some kept women essentially locked in rooms in motels across state lines, advertising them online as available for sex with older men. Others brought young girls from Mexico, luring them with the promise of a new life in America, only to put them to work as prostitutes along the Jersey shore. One such sex trafficking ring pimped girls as young as 13, according to state officials.

Referring to sex trafficking as “modern slavery,” Elie Honig, New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice Director has been working with local police departments across the state, setting up undercover busts. Honig says that many sex traffickers are technologically savvy, using sites such as backpage.com to find and advertise victims. He says that the modern prototype is based on coercion and intimidation, with girls often restrained so that they cannot escape. He also said that drugs are frequently involved, with girls being either paid in drugs or subdued by narcotics.

Police and prosecutors have found it much easier over the last three years to investigate, arrest and prosecute human trafficking offenders. New Jersey’s Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act, signed into law by Governor Christie three years ago, has stiffened penalties and provided financial assistance to victims of sex trafficking. Before the law was enacted, prosecutors had to show that a minor was forced or coerced into sex trafficking or prostitution. Now, if a victim was underage, it’s automatically considered human trafficking.

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