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Virginia’s Backyards: Gangs and Human Trafficking

Written by Josh Hayden

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In Our Backyards
The Virginia Free Citizen

Schools were barely off to their start this fall when 24 gang members were arrested in various locations around Fauquier County. These gang members were arrested on numerous charges, including the sale of narcotics, violent crimes, racketeering and perhaps most important of all – human trafficking.

Fauquier County, in Virginia, is perhaps best known for its rolling hills, agriculture, beautiful rural countryside and its proximity to both Washington DC and the Blue Ridge Mountains. But on this occasion it was the center of an operation that took down a number of traffickers making profit through exploiting the lives of other human beings.

Fauquier County doesn’t seem like a typical location for human trafficking. You can’t find a central red light district, observe prostitutes walking the streets or hear stories of children working endlessly in factories or on farms. Yet, despite being the eighth most affluent county in the United States, Fauquier County is not immune to one of the fastest growing crime activities in the world.

Human trafficking is the illegal and forceful detention of a human being for work and profit by another human being. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is happening right here in our own backyards.

An estimated 14,500 to 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year, while the number of convictions during Fiscal Year 2012 totaled 138. According to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report,

“DOJ convicted a total of 138 traffickers in cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of children, compared to 151 such convictions obtained in 2011. Of these, 105 were predominantly sex trafficking and 33 were predominantly labor trafficking, although some cases involved both.”

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