Dr. Sandie Morgan, Dave Stachowiak, and Westminster Police Department’s Deputy Chief Derek Marsh discuss the myths and misconceptions of human trafficking. Deputy Chief Marsh has worked on Orange County’s local anti-trafficking efforts since 2003, including co-chairing the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force for nine years. In Part 2, they discuss myths 7 through 12 about human trafficking as outlined by the Polaris Project.
- Myth 7: Sex trafficking is the only form of human trafficking.
- Myth 8: Human trafficking only occurs in illegal underground industries.
- Myth 9: If the trafficked person consented to be in their initial situation, then it cannot be human trafficking or against their will because they “knew better.”
- Myth 10: Foreign national trafficking victims are always undocumented immigrants or here in this country illegally.
- Myth 11: There is a citizen savior to end human trafficking.
- Myth 12: If it’s a statistic, it must be a fact.
- 71– A Dozen Myths About Human Trafficking (Part 1)
- Myths from the Polaris Project
- Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force
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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 72, A Dozen Myths About Human Trafficking (Part Two). Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.
Sandie [00:00:31] And my name is Sandie Morgan.
Dave [00:00:33] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. And we did that in a big way back on last episode, Sandie, number 71, where we began to look at the 12 myths of human trafficking that the Polaris Project has put together. And we were fortunate to have Deputy Chief Derek Marsh from the Westminster Police Department with us on Episode 71. And we talked in detail about those first six myths. And so we’re bringing you now the second half of that conversation, which is now looking at myths 7 through 12 and talking in detail on what are some of the things that are maybe popular myths about trafficking that aren’t necessarily true, or there’s only a piece of them that are true and really looking at the complexity of this issue. Because that is important to us, Sandie, is really looking at the full complexity of this issue and studying the issues so that we can be even more effective at working to end human trafficking. Before we get into that interview, though, speaking of getting more effective at studying the issues, we have the conference coming up to really help all of us to become more effective in just a few months, Sandie.
Sandie [00:01:50] That’s right. So, you want to be an early bird and get the early bird rate to register for Ensure Justice 2014, Why is She a Slave? Our speakers are amazing, Steven Baumann’s CEO of World Relief and Dr. Joanne Bew Trend, Reverend David Myers from the White House faith-based agency in Homeland Security and Shyima Hall. And if I can encourage you, you will love meeting Shyima and hearing her tell her story. Her book is coming out on January 21st, I’d advise you to preorder it. Go on to Amazon.com and order The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave Hidden Girl.
Dave [00:02:39] So, Sandie, I think that’s going to give us a good overview of the conference. So, a reminder to go to gcwj.vanguard.edu. That’s a great place to find information. And now let’s go ahead and join our conversation again with Deputy Chief Derek Marsh.
Sandie [00:02:58] Thank you, Deputy Chief Marsh, for coming back to finish 6 more of the 12 myths that we are addressing human trafficking. And we talked about the first six that included the idea that only foreign nationals were victims, that this was a crime of travel and crossing borders. We talked about the difference between trafficking and smuggling, the elements of physical bondage, as well as the idea that victims are asking for help and will self-identify, and finally, we discussed the idea that all victims come from some sort of poverty situation. Now we’re going to roll into the last six myths. The first of which is myth seven, how can the first be number seven? I don’t know. Sorry about that myth seven, sex trafficking is the only form of human trafficking. Tell us the reality.
Derek [00:04:03] Well, again, I think this is also generated, I think probably from a law enforcement focus as far as what we’re able to actually go out and pursue. I know that from a law enforcement area, because that’s my expertise, obviously, that any kind of vice operation is something that law enforcement is very capable of doing that we’ve been doing for decades. As far as finding people who are, you know, performing illicit sex acts for people. And so, moving into sex trafficking was a relatively easy thing to do. But if you look at the numbers across the world, in fact, they’re exactly the reverse. That for the most part, if you look at the ILO, International Labor Organization, they estimate that 60 to 70 percent, if not more of all trafficking is labor trafficking. There’s a study by a Harvard professor that claims that 96 percent of all trafficking is labor trafficking. If you look at the United Nations reports, they claim anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of all trafficking is labor trafficking. It’s only here in the US with our task force and our expertise in vice investigations that we would be able to get what we’re looking for. And I think the reverse is true, except for the world that now we show that sex trafficking is 80 to 90 percent of the trafficking we find in the United States. Whereas I think if we were to have better expertise in finding forms of labor trafficking and following up on those investigations, I think we’re developing them but not we’re not there yet, that we would find that sex trafficking, while predominant and nothing to minimize, may not be the overwhelming type of trafficking that’s occurring in the United States.
Sandie [00:05:43] Well, and one of the things that reflect how we are changing is our legislation because here in California, the California Transparency Act has helped us begin to identify slave labor that’s on the shelves in our stores. And we have a secondary responsibility to that because we drive demand for those cheap products, and which drives demand for labor trafficking. But you all know, that’s one of my pet peeves, and I want to talk about that all the time. But I need to move on to Myth eight while we have the deputy chief with us today, human trafficking only occurs in illegal underground industries. What’s the reality?
Derek [00:06:30] Yeah, that’s another one. I think that it sounds cool. I think we have a lot of media that is posted, movies like Taken, or I can think of any 10 movies off the top of my head that have any kind of human trafficking focus. But you’re dealing with illegal criminal organizations that are taking advantage of immigrants or domestic victims. And they created this kind of mythos, if you will, that it’s all about illegal criminal enterprises that are creating this type of victimization. However, it can be domestic servitude, that is handled through individuals at homes that have gone out and victimized foreign nationals or perhaps even people of their own family that are forced into doing labor in the home. We have marriages that are false, that are being done, that are individual, that are not the victim of a criminal enterprise at all. We also have industries, and we’ve seen some people actually prosecuted in the United States that involve labor, whether it’s speakers or it’s Martha Stewart or any other type of activity that people are taking a measure, whether it’s in this country or out of the country, of cheap labor, to take advantage of these people so they can make more money and have greater dividends as a result of the people that they are victimizing. So, while it’s of course, it makes a great movie or makes a great TV show to show the illegal criminal enterprises. I think in reality we find just as many being supported by individuals or by corporations who have not done their due diligence, if you will, their corporate due diligence. They’re not focused on global citizenship issues and are using workforce that are being abused or misused or underpaid to perform the labor and service they’re requiring to make a profit and be successful in our capitalistic society.
Sandie [00:08:35] Okay. Well, myth nine brings us to a slightly different issue in this respect. If the trafficked person consented to be in their initial situation or was informed about what type of labor they would be doing or that commercial sex would be involved, then it cannot be human trafficking or against their will because they knew better. What’s the reality?
Derek [00:09:04] This is a tricky one because people are under the impression that if you say OK, then it’s OK. If you were prostituting yourself in a foreign country, that if you came here and agreed to be a prostitute here, or be prostituted if you will, then that’s OK. It’s not so much what you agree to. It’s how you’re treated when you get here. That’s kind of the pivoting point, if you will. So, you may have agreed to let’s say sell your body here in America, but then when you get here and they don’t let you go out, they don’t let you eat unless you’re told when you can eat, they don’t let you be in control of your documents, they don’t pay you what they promised you they’d pay you at all. All those things would contribute to the force, fraud, or coercion that would lend itself to be a victim of human trafficking. Or you can be promised to be something. Let’s say you promise to work in a restaurant and then you show up to work in that restaurant and by work though you thought I was going to wait tables, or I’m going to clean dishes, or I’m going to perform some kind of cleaning service. And when in reality they point to a pole and say you’re dancing on that pole and you’re servicing customers and we take the money from that. Then that would obviously be another instance where if I agree to get here, but I didn’t agree to these conditions as well. We’ve also had labor deals that were made with contracts in foreign countries that wouldn’t stand 10 minutes in a court in the United States, but these victims feel compelled to pursue those. These have been situations with senior care facilities where these people have been told, well, you can be a senior care worker or supporter, we’ll pay you this amount of money, but you owe us eighty thousand dollars, but you also owe us room and board, and you owe us for clothing, and you owe us for this and that. And as a result of that, they never can pay off their debt. They’re basically free labor, they use the costs to bring them into the country to hold them hostage in these different locations, and suddenly you have a situation where you have trafficking. The idea that they should have known better; no one’s prescient, no one can read the future. I think the idea here is, whether they come from a foreign country or they’re their own citizens, everyone is hoping for a better life. And if it sounds too good to be true, sometimes people believe it might be true, that it could happen to them. And you shouldn’t be held against them that they thought maybe they could take advantage of a situation that would better their lives, better their family’s lives, and instead were taken advantage of and forced to do things they do not want to do at times and places they don’t want to do them for a period of time they don’t want to participate. And for money or compensation, that is not something they were bargained on to begin with if they get any of that at all.
Sandie [00:11:49] Which that kind of leads us into the tenth myth, foreign national trafficking victims are always undocumented immigrants or here in this country illegally. What’s the reality?
Derek [00:12:04] Well, I would say there’s a degree of truth of it. Obviously, there are people that are coming across illegally and they’re being taken advantage of. I think in California, we tend to believe it more because we hear so many stories about people coming across the border and not being properly documented, and we go into all these different extremes: ponga boats, tunneling, crossing rivers, being put into awkward positions in vehicles or other transportation methods that are horrendous. And thinking okay well they would only do that if they were illegal. But the reality is there are a lot of people who come here legitimately through student visas or through work visas. And there are lots of different types, I don’t get into individual parts of that, that come here to want to be a legitimate member of our society, whether they’re visiting or for long term. And then they come to a point where they are in a situation where they want to extend it and they can’t, or someone finds them during that period of time, tries to romance them and then forces them into something else or coerces them into something else or they become a victim of trafficking. So, yeah, are there people here who come into the country illegally and they’re victimized? Absolutely. But I don’t think that by far they are the only people who are victimized. And in fact, many of the people we found who are victims, again, professional workers from foreign countries who are here in a legitimate sense or to get further education or to actually what they believe to be actual real jobs, but they’re defrauded. And when they get here, the legitimate job they’re promised is not their job that they’re actually forced to do.
Sandie [00:13:37] So, we have seen that human trafficking has become a huge hot topic in media. We have seen that there are new nonprofits and NGOs popping up every day that are going to fight human trafficking. And one of the aspects of that leads us to myth number 11, that somehow there is a citizen savior. What’s the reality?
Derek [00:14:06] Well, I will tell you first before just to contextualize the citizen savior myth. I have never met people that once they understand what trafficking is don’t want to become passionate about it to some level or don’t want to participate or assist in some level. And so I think it’s this passion to help and to be more immediate and get that kind of immediate gratification that they’ve helped somebody or they’re helping somebody or helping a situation of trafficking that kind of spawns these people who go a little bit beyond the pale, if you will, and begin to think of themselves as citizen saviors who are going to go out and do investigations, they’re going to go out and do interventions, they’re going to go out and interface with people on the street or in situations where they feel there might be trafficking and actually try to rescue them or to help them or to intercede on their behalf and do things. And some of this as well guided and it’s fine. But when it gets to the point where you’re doing investigations, you’re doing surveillance, you’re interfering with these people in the middle of their victimization. You don’t have the backup, you don’t have the skillset, and many times you don’t have the ability to make this a legitimate case or make a legitimate save. So, yes, is the goal of our trafficking laws and the federal and state level to save victims? Absolutely. But especially when it comes to investigations and getting involved in some of these situations, well we talked earlier about them not all being illegal criminal enterprises. A lot of them are, and these people are ruthless, and they put citizens, put themselves in grave danger and not just themselves, but the victims as well. Because if they go and pretend to be a John or they pretend to be a participant and instead try to intercede, and then this person is being watched, which they almost always are, and what you’ve run across as a potential for these people to be harmed or to disappear as opposed to just finding something in law enforcement, say, I think this might be something going on. If you get in the middle of it and you intervene, that person could be hurt, the citizen who’s trying to help could be hurt and are at risk. And what’s the hardest risk is if those people disappeared, never seen again, who knows what happened to them. And you’re really doing a disservice to those potential victims by interceding without having the right backing, the right follow up, the right investigative skills, the right ability to provide the services they need immediately to physically and actually rescue them without endangering yourselves along the way.
Sandie [00:16:31] But I understand from a lot of these organizations that the primary investigators are retired law enforcement, so they know how to do investigations. So, what they collect is evidence should be admissible in court and we should be able to get more prosecutions and we need more people doing investigations. That’s what I hear. Explain that.
Derek [00:16:51] And I hear you. And you’re right, those people who are, let’s say, retired law enforcement or retired military, we’ve had offers of retired military as well, super-capable people, super great experience not minimizing their contributions, whether it’s in law enforcement or the military in the slightest. However, when you’re off the grid and you’re not technically part of a law enforcement agency anymore, you’re not part of the military anymore, all of the work that they do has to be redone by us. And they know that I mean, in their heart of hearts, they know that. I think their passion gets a little bit too much or overwhelms them and they lose a little clarity of thought.
Sandie [00:17:24] You just said all the work has to be redone by you. You are the current law enforcement, your badge carrying right now, so you have to redo all of the investigations. But if the people have left because they’ve been discovered, how do you do that?
Derek [00:17:42] Well, and that’s exactly the problem, Sandie. The bottom line is if they do that investigation, or they do that video, they may show elements or issues that deal with human trafficking. Hands down, no argument there. But then because the judge and the people on the jury are going to want to hear what happened from the law enforcement angle and not just the person on the street to witness what they witnessed at that time, then what’s going to happen is we have to redo that. And if we go back to try to find that person and they’re gone because most of the time even the people who try to do the saving only provide them literature or things like that, which is fine. I’m not minimizing that, but the problem becomes if that’s discovered or somebody thinks that they might if the trafficker thinks that their person, they’re victimizing their source of income, that’s their livelihood in this sense. And they’ll disappear, then we can’t find them again. The odds of us finding them could be very remote. And so, while the citizen has gone out to try to save and do the right thing and rescue people like the TVPA wants us to do. What they’ve in essence done the exact reverse, they’ve created a situation where we can’t find them again. The victimization might increase or might not, but we want people to have an opportunity to reach that person. So, maybe we may find them a week later, we may find them a month or a year later, but it’s a week, a month, or a year more of victimization they had to suffer through the good intentions of these citizen saviors.
Sandie [00:19:06] Wow. It’s very complicated, but the bottom line is we do need to work with law enforcement, not disregard the fact that in this country we have due process and we have legitimate ways of collecting evidence. And if we really want to prosecute, but the perpetrators away, and provide justice for victims, then we have to work with law enforcement, not perpetuate the myth that we can do this as lone rangers.
Derek [00:19:40] Yeah, I would just re-emphasize that everything we focused on, at least in Orange County task force, none of those task forces follow the same road is that we are here as a team or we are here to work together. And there are lots of things people can do individually. You want to contribute to the human trafficking or antihuman trafficking movement or to help people who’ve been victimized or to helping prosecute people who are victimizers, who are traffickers, that do not involve them getting in the street, doing active investigations or trying to do interventions that put themselves at risk.
Sandie [00:20:13] And this is a good point for us to remind listeners that the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is one way to report what you have identified as a possible risk situation. So, you would call 888-373-7888 to report any kind of signs of what human trafficking might be. But if you are in a situation where you see something happening right this moment, an underage girl being picked up for what may appear to be some sort of commercial sexual exploitation, you can call 9-1-1 and that will be the more immediate way ticket resources directed to that situation.
Sandie [00:21:01] I agree, I think that the national hotline is great, and they’re tied into all the local human trafficking task forces. And if there’s not a task force in your area, they’re tied into the department of Homeland Security, as well as to the Federal Bureau Investigation in your area, which they are there in all areas of the United States. And so those people do, I know, follow up. Those agencies are, you know, that’s one of their primary missions is to follow up on these types of reports. And so, nothing is neglected. You may not hear about it again yourself, whoever makes the report, but I can guarantee you that they have a list that they’re given and they’re expected to follow up and then determine the viability of what they can do as far as an investigation or who’s being victimized.
Sandie [00:21:43] Okay, so last myth before we have to say goodbye. Myth twelve: if it’s a statistic, it must be a fact. What’s the reality?
Derek [00:21:56] I love this one. It’s one of the things we actually spent time in during the training throughout the state. I can’t say how many articles I’ve read, how many academic articles I’ve read, how many maps I’ve seen showing all types of different migration patterns and immigration patterns, and human trafficking patterns. And all I can say is, you know, numbers are great, and we keep trying harder and harder to be able to standardize those numbers and to actually track what’s going on. But it is a very complex issue that does not lend itself to a quick yes or no answer in most parts. And as a result, the numbers you see aren’t always the numbers that always represent the accurate facts of what’s going on. And so I have graphs that will point out that there are six to eight hundred thousand people being trafficked around the world and anyone here, which is what our State Department goes with and that’s fine, but how do they know that they’re not actually tracking numbers? We look at the TIP report, the Trafficking in Persons report, put out by the State Department every year. They’ll say that these many people were being identified as victims, it’s usually around thirty-eight to forty thousand people, which is significantly different than the six to eight hundred thousand there estimated that are running below the radar that isn’t being tracked. If you look at the ILO, you know, projecting what kind of human trafficking is out there, their emphasis being the International Labor Organization is that labor is the predominant deal. The U.N. is a tad more equitable about it, but they still focus more on labor trafficking. If you go into the United States and they focus more on sex trafficking and this is where a lot of these myths are brought about, where you are is what you see. And unfortunately, you have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. The idea I think that’s predominant is that trafficking is a reality that exists everywhere, it’s both domestic and international, children, women, and men are all victimized. There’s both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. And there are agencies like the Polaris Project and the State Department and other places that do put out interesting information and push out trends, which I think are very valid trends that they talk about and academics who do research that’s incredibly valid and point to different aspects of the human trafficking complex if you will. But no one number I’ve ever seen encompasses or is capably describing human trafficking as a whole, other than the fact than affirming it does exist and it’s something we need to deal with, not just from a legal perspective, but from a spiritual perspective, from being a citizen of the world and having a global responsibility to hold people accountable, who take advantage of other people.
Sandie [00:24:40] The National Human Trafficking Resource Center through Polaris Project just recently released a trafficking trends report for trafficking in the United States. And this was particularly helpful for me because when people talk about trafficking here in the States, the focus is almost entirely on commercial sexual exploitation of children, which warms my heart because that’s something that I’m a big advocate on and do a lot of study and work against that. But when I look at the victim to map a demographic overview from this recent report in the sex trafficking arena, 52 percent are adults. So, do we not value over 18-year-old people who are also being exploited in this modern-day slavery? The only answer, you know, well, how do we do that? How do we help people see adults as valuable as well?
Derek [00:25:44] Well, that’s almost like the hidden 13th myth that comes of domestic trafficking, is that they’re all kids. And it is way easier to sell to your chief of police and to your city council and to your local government that the kids are being victimized and we need to do something. I don’t think anyone viscerally can refute that and say that we don’t need to focus on that. But the reality is that many adults are being victimized as well, as you said. And I think our culture has a history of believing in self-reliance. And if you got yourself in the problem, you’ve got to get yourself out of it. And I can’t tell you enough that these people are being victimized. This idea of hypervigilance, of psychological coercion, sometimes even physical coercion to reinforce and do things like that is the reality. These adults are just as much victims as the kids are, and in many times have been victimized much longer than the children have and need our help just as much.
Sandie [00:26:43] One of the risks of using statistics is that hyperbole can backfire on you. Can you address how misreporting can become a funding issue?
Derek [00:26:58] Well, funny you ask, when we first started getting involved as the Orange County Task Force, I know you were part of it too, the OIG, the Office of Inspector General, came out and they were reviewing different task forces in their reporting of victim stats and investigation statistics and they found statistical errors in just about every organization or every task force that they looked at. And I can tell you that, whether it’s a well-meaning effort or unintentional, I mean, I’m not here to point fingers at anybody or any organization. Due diligence in statistics is huge, and that was one thing we focused on in Orange County. Everyone thought I was crazy, I remember people laughed at me, say, well, “I’m creating this form and we’re doing it once and we’re double-checking.” And the rest of it, because what you don’t want to do is sell bad numbers or sell numbers that have been inadvertently or inadvertently represented as being accurate and found out to be false or inaccurate because of what it does it actually undermines what you’re trying to do. It makes it look like you’re trying to through hyperbole, through drama, through emotional language, trying to state a fact. And that does not sell people when it comes to government funding. It doesn’t sell people as far as anybody who wants to support the movement while it does engage people to make them feel passionate about it. It really does a disservice for law enforcement or other agencies who want to get involved, but they want to be involved on a much more professional and statistically justifiable level. And I would point to the DARE program. I used to be a person back in the early 90s, I was a first air officer here for the Westminster Police Department. And when they were doing numbers out of LAPD and again, not pointing any fingers, when they had the people doing the numbers and claiming all these different winds. But then when an independent agency went in and found something different, a great program that really provided great outreach for law enforcement and the community and for kids in the community was undermined from that moment on because of the discrepancy between the numbers initially reported and the statistics later found. I would hate to see that tragedy repeated with the human trafficking movement because there are legitimate victims, tens of thousands of them, I’m sure, out there who are needing help. And to have it derailed by misrepresentation or poor numbers or hyperbole would be just a tragedy beyond words.
Sandie [00:29:28] So, how would you recommend someone make a decision based on that? All the “statistics” that are out there, how do we make good decisions when we have so many competing voices telling us the numbers? I heard a TV report last week that said, “that right this moment there are 300,000 U.S. children being sold for sex.” I couldn’t figure out where that statistic came from.
Derek [00:30:00] Well, I think we know the Estes in 2003 or elicit a bunch of issues with runaways and juveniles and, you know, their conduct. And I think that was kind of taken out of context with that particular report or that academic study. I’ve actually emailed a Dr. Estes at one point and asked if he did any further research at this point, but he said no a couple of years back. But I think on the whole, the idea is that you want to look in your own backyard. You want to work with your local law enforcement. You want to work with your local NGOs, your partners who are out there servicing victims of crime and finding out what’s really out there now. And the trick is really education and the sense of understanding the right questions to ask of the right people at the right time so that you get the answers that are legitimate and that actually can help for things and understand that, you know, human trafficking victims or survivors don’t tell the right story the first time. You have to be patient and understanding, and realize they are victims of crime, whether it’s multiple sexual acts against their will or it’s forced labor, they have to be feeling safe and secure before they will give an accurate representation of what’s happened to them. I think if you take it on a case by case basis, you can justify it from the fact that the world recognizes that human trafficking exists. And there are plenty of images across the board, whether you go to YouTube or you subscribe to any kind of news agency that can share the types of things that are occurring. You can go with the FBI Web site and look at the types of crimes they are prosecuting federally and the types of, you know, child exploitation that’s going on, sex trafficking, pornographic and otherwise, and see that those are legitimate issues that are occurring now. Team with those people, team with your federal partners, with your local partners, with your local law enforcement partners, your NGO, your faith-based community groups. And then put together a strategy that will address what’s happening in your region. That fits the best practices that are going on, that are espoused by the OVC, by the BGA, by the National Human Resource Center, even by NCMEC for that matter, anywhere you can go. You can go to help serve the potential victims or people who are being victimized in the sense of trafficking.
Sandie [00:32:17] Well, you’ve pointed us right back to the reason we do this podcast. We want to study the issues so we can be a voice and make a difference. And if we don’t understand what the issues are in reality, based on good research, then we may go down the wrong path. We appreciate you, Deputy Chief Marsh, very much for giving us your time today. And we’ll come back and ask you more questions in the coming years. Thank you.
Derek [00:32:45] Thank you for having me. I really appreciate being part of it.
Dave [00:32:48] Well, we would love to thank Deputy Chief Derek Marsh for joining us for this episode and also Episode 71. If you haven’t listened to Episode 71 yet, be sure to go back and check that one out for the first six myths. And of course, if you have comments or questions for us about anything we’ve talked about in this episode or human trafficking topic in general, you can reach us at gcwj@Vanguard.edu. And a reminder, the conference is coming up in March. Sandie, where do people go for information about that?
Sandie [00:33:25] Gcwj.Vanguard.edu You click on conference and register early for the early bird rate, March 7th and 8th.
Dave [00:33:35] Hey, we hope are having a great start to the year and we’ll see you again in two weeks. Take care, Sandie.
Sandie [00:33:40] Thanks, Dave.