Human Trafficking Unit
The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office was the first DA’s Office in Maine to dedicate an Assistant District Attorney to focusing on Human Trafficking in Cumberland County. The prosecutor not only aims to prosecute traffickers and perpetrators of engaging a prostitute, but also to help victims of this horrendous crime and to educate the public about the danger.
Human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking, is defined as a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. Maine has specific laws that prohibit the promotion of prostitution to protect victims of sex trafficking.
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 District Attorney’s Office combats human trafficking with a three-fold approach towards three-distinct areas within sex trafficking:
(1) Traffickers (commonly referred to as “pimps”),
(2) Buyers (commonly referred to as “Johns” who create the demand and the market), and
(3) victims (commonly referred to as “prostituted persons” or “prostitutes”).
First and foremost, the goal of the HT Unit at the Cumberland County DA’s Office is to help victims of sex trafficking become survivors of sex trafficking. The DA’s Office works with a variety of community groups from the non-profit arenas, the survivor community, and faith-based organizations. We also work closely with local law enforcement agencies and our federal partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations. As a group, we all work to identify victims, offer services and support, and hope to provide a person an escape from “The Life” of prostitution and victimization.
Secondly, the DA’s Office, along with our law enforcement agencies, aggressively prosecute sex traffickers. The District Attorney’s does not tolerate “sexploitation” of individuals and we try our best to ensure that traffickers are behind bars. We understand that for every day a trafficker is off the street, a victim may have an opportunity to escape his or her control. Identification and information is key to prosecuting these traffickers, and it is important that intelligence is shared in order to help victims.
Third, the market demand fuels sex trafficking and the District Attorney’s Office understands that there is a need to create a community in which it is not acceptable to buy sex and prostituted people. Without a market, there would be no demand. The District Attorney’s Office is focused on trying to disrupt this market side and change the behavior of people who think it is acceptable to buy sex and victimize individuals. It is key to the community that people understand that prostitution is not a “victim-less” crime and there are consequences for fueling the market that is rampant with drug trafficking, victimization, assault, rape, and murder.
Finally, the District Attorney’s Office uses the Human Trafficking Unit as a resource to increase education and awareness within Cumberland County and the State of Maine about the dangers of sex trafficking. If given the opportunity, we will speak to schools, church groups, civic organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, or anyone who wants to know more about these dangers. The DA’s Office partners with many groups to educate the public and raise awareness. Below are just some of the groups in Maine who work so hard to help eradicate human trafficking.