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U.S. and Mexico Meet for Human Trafficking Summit

More than 100 representatives from the government and private sectors, including high-level law enforcement representatives from the U.S. and Mexico, convened in Los Angeles Thursday, July 12, 2012, for a binational summit to strategize on ways to enhance existing efforts to combat human trafficking in both countries.

The daylong conference, organized by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles, focused on ways the U.S. and Mexico can work more closely together to detect trafficking activity and prosecute suspected perpetrators. Featured speakers included Nelly Montealegre Diaz, who oversees the Mexican Attorney General’s special prosecutions unit involving crimes of violence against women and human trafficking.

“For everyone at this week’s meeting, combatting human trafficking is a top priority, but despite that, we believe a significant number of trafficking cases continue to go undetected,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “The goal of the summit was to share ideas on further steps we can take together to bolster efforts to prevent this reprehensible crime.”

“No human being deserves to be trafficked, abused or exploited,” said David Figueroa, the consul general of Mexico in Los Angeles. “We must not allow our borders to be barriers in the ongoing effort to combat this problem. Our shared goal is to achieve a society free of human trafficking and human smuggling.”

Topics covered during the conference included an overview of current human trafficking investigative strategies in both the U.S. and Mexico. Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office discussed case prosecutions. Other speakers detailed the current services available to assist trafficking victims and the vital role such support plays in these cases.

Conference organizers say the meeting was very productive. Participants agreed to look for ways to expand the existing information sharing between the two countries on human trafficking cases. Beyond that, the discussions resulted in a renewed commitment by both countries to seek new and innovative ways to collaborate on human trafficking enforcement efforts.