Human Trafficking Unit is first in the nation to address farm labor exploitation
Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez is creating a Human Trafficking Unit within his office aimed to address forced labor in the agricultural sector.
Director of Administration Rosalinda Cantu presented the agenda item that was approved by Commissioners Court.
The new unit will be funded through a Buffett-McCain Institute Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery grant of $356,783, funded by the Arizona State University Foundation.
“We are very grateful to The Buffett-McCain Institute Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery for funding this initiative and to serve as a pilot program that will be replicated in other parts of the nation,” said Rodriguez.
The objective is to end traffickers’ impunity by supporting a justice system able to effectively; fairly and efficiently handle forced labor and labor exploitation cases.
The initiative will be guided by a victim-centered approach and will work to increase victim identification, support investigations, and increase labor trafficking prosecutions.
The grant funds will be used to hire two new positions: a Labor Trafficking Specialty Prosecutor to review, investigate and prosecute cases, and an investigator who will work with local, regional, state and federal law enforcement agencies to provide guidance and training. A human trafficking task force coordinator will also be hired.
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