CLEVELAND -- The trafficking of people in Northeast Ohio for sex or forced labor is a crime under attack.
"We are doing more than ever and better than ever in fighting human trafficking," announced Steve Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio, and one of several local law enforcement officials who renewed their pledge to combat the crime.
Dettelbach spoke at the annual Human Trafficking Program at the Justice Center, an event organized to update the community on the crime and how local citizens can become involved.
Karen Walsh, a local attorney and director of the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking opened the program by saying, "human trafficking, today's practice of slavery, is occurring in Northeast Ohio. The answer to that question is a clear yes."
But Walsh and others fighting the crime, which is considered the second most pervasive in the world next to organized drug trafficking, are claiming inroads after years of efforts.
Ohio recently added trafficking to a list of crimes which are felonies, and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force will have a special emphasis on human traffickers. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty's office is also focusing on the crime.
"We want to cause the market to collapse," McGinty said, "by going after the johns and the pimps and everyone else involved."