Written by STOPP Website Staff (09/28/2018)

National Campaign to Detect and Deter Human Trafficking Introduced in the Virgin Islands

The Blue Campaign, a nationwide initiative to combat human trafficking that was originally promoted in all fifty states, was launched on September 20th in the U.S. Virgin Islands with training sessions hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The U.S. territory is made up of three islands in the Caribbean, totaling 133 miles square miles and located forty miles east of Puerto Rico. In the past, the Virgin Islands have had trouble with both sex trafficking and the trafficking of stolen babies.

Young women are forced into prostitution for a tourist base. This is a continual problem due to the Virgin Island’s poor economy that relies so heavily upon tourism and a police force that is underfunded and unequipped.

Another trafficking problem is caused by couples so desperate to adopt a child in the U.S. Virgin Islands that babies are stolen from nearby Caribbean islands.

The victims of human trafficking can be found in numerous and varied places throughout the islands, often hiding in plain sight.

Members of the U.S. Department of Justice and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head up the Blue Campaign and spread its message around the country. DHS facilitator Scott Santoro, who has helped to get the word out about the Blue Campaign and helped lead roundtable discussions about the issue, addressed the training session by saying, “There are so many crimes around human trafficking… Victims of human trafficking live under an intense control environment.”

“Trafficking victims move through the world under supervision. They are not allowed to speak to others, including those who might be in a position to help them,” DHS special agent Louis Penn, Jr. added.

The Blue Campaign Authorization Act was put into effect in February of this year. The campaign, made up of federal officials, works in collaboration with local law enforcement, government, non-governmental, and private organizations in teaching communities about human trafficking and combating the issue.

To view the entire article published in the Virgin Islands by St. John Source, go to the following link: https://stjohnsource.com/2018/09/16/national-campaign-to-detect-and-deter-human-trafficking-introduced-in-the-v-i/

For more information on the Blue Campaign, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s link: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign

For more info on Virgin Island trafficking issues check out Tom Bolt’s article. Bolt is chair of the Virgin Islands Uniform Law Commission and the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army, St. Thomas Corps. : http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/opinion/humans-should-never-be-for-sale/article_cc2622e3-b13a-5ba3-8a6b-d8f2a2dd6c02.html