Zoeller, other AGs press Congress to fund critical human trafficking programs


greg zoeller

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and 46 other attorneys general today urged Congress to fund programs targeting human trafficking in the U.S.

Congress re-upped the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in March, but has yet to appropriate monies to fund its many programs including victim services. Zoeller and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson co-sponsored a letter, signed by attorneys general from across the country, and sent it to Congressional committee leaders who oversee the federal funding.

Human trafficking is tied as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, just behind illegal drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Zoeller said children are often targeted as victims and the majority of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens.

“Law enforcement, government agencies, local task forces and victim services organizations are in tremendous need of funding due to the complex and resource-intensive nature of human trafficking cases,” Zoeller said. “While we understand the fiscal challenges our country faces, much of the progress made in the fight against human trafficking is at risk of being lost without these federal dollars.”

Established in 2000, the TVPRA greatly increased U.S. efforts to protect human trafficking victims, assist survivors, improve prevention methods and successfully prosecute human traffickers. Human trafficking victims often experience severe trauma that requires intensive therapy and rehabilitation. In addition, criminal cases of human trafficking and slavery are often complicated and involve lengthy legal proceedings requiring additional resources for prosecutors and investigators. Many of these victims require comprehensive case management provided by victim service organizations to see them through their recovery and help them navigate the legal system.

Ferguson and Zoeller serve as co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Standing Committee on Human Trafficking. In 2011, state and territorial attorneys general prioritized efforts to combat human trafficking.

Zoeller serves as the co-chair of the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force. The task force has trained more than 7,300 persons including law enforcement, cab drivers, first responders, medical professionals and others so that they can identify human trafficking victims and know how to respond.

For more information about the Attorney General’s human trafficking prevention efforts visitwww.in.gov/attorneygeneral. For a copy of the letter visit http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php.