(The Center Square) – Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced this week during a press conference the launch of an initiative to combat human trafficking in partnership with businesses across the commonwealth.
The new program, 100% Business Alliance Against Trafficking, is a workforce training program aimed at educating employees on how to identify and report suspected incidents of human trafficking.
Miyares underscored the brazenness of human trafficking and the importance of providing the necessary resources for employers and employees to combat the issue. The attorney general noted a human trafficking ring was broken up last month in Williamsburg through the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, which was investigated by a single tip using a tip line.
“Human trafficking happens in plain sight. When Virginia businesses equip their employees with education, tools, and training, they become trusted eyes and ears in their communities,” said Miyares. “Virginia is taking proactive and aggressive steps to fight back against this scourge and reinforce our intolerance to any and all forms of human trafficking and exploitation.”
He said that human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world behind narcotics and is estimated to net a staggering $150 billion annually.
The attorney general highlighted the need to develop partnerships to combat human trafficking, especially in the business community.
“We need partners. Every single business … they are at the very front line of this invisible war that happens in plain sight,” said Miyares. “And Virginians everyday are interacting with those that are being exploited either by human trafficking or sex trafficking.”
Miyares’ office plans to use the initiative to celebrate “responsible corporate actors” who participate in the training by recognizing their commitment to fighting human trafficking.
“I think increasingly people are very mindful of how they spend their dollars. They want to make sure they’re spending dollars with responsible corporate actors. So we’re absolutely going to be highlighting that,” the attorney general told The Center Square.
Miyares added that over 80% of those trafficked have been seen by a medical provider while traveling. The startling statistic spurred the need to partner with various communities to “help eradicate one of the worst crimes that we see on the planet today.”
Miyares also raised the issue of the rise of drug addiction post-pandemic and how it’s fueling familiar trafficking.
“We have seen an explosion of what we call familial trafficking, which people are in such the throes of addiction, they will traffic their own daughter, child or younger sibling,” the attorney general lamented.
Miyares briefly touched on MS-13, the notorious Salvadorian gang prevalent in northern Virginia, and its involvement in human trafficking.
Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid echoed the attorney general’s message on the crime crisis. When asked by The Center Square if she had noticed a rise in MS-13’s involvement in human trafficking, Kincaid replied, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
She hopes they can combat the issue by bringing the vulnerable populations to these groups and crimes into the fold and by bringing attention to the problem.