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But the FBI exhibiting a seemingly low amount of interest in human trafficking cases was a different matter altogether. As an apex law enforcement agency, they were not required by federal law to notify ICE in the same way that local or state agencies were required. The issues were much more complex with the FBI. The FBI was able to launch investigations on their own, thus ensuring a thorough investigation with proper charges would be possible for the perpetrators of such modern-day human slavery. Unfortunately, the FBI lacked the proper resources and ability to provide the short-term and intermediate safe shelter for the victims they and their informants rescued. The FBI was dependent on the U.S. Attorneys' Office to designate the victims as witnesses before resources were available to the victims. This dependence on the U.S. Attorneys' Office for short-term and intermediate resources seemed to be the clog preventing freedom and safety for many trafficking victims based on my research and the FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys I spoke with. Human traffickers often targeted illegal aliens who were already in the United States, or would kidnap and bring unwilling citizens from other countries across the United States' porous border. Therefore, various types of visas would have to be made available for many victims if their testimony was needed to prosecute and neutralize the perpetrators of the slavery. However, other human trafficking victims were U.S. citizens who were either suffering from various addictions or were teenage runaways. Both Laster and I saw the same DOJ hesitancy to help in both groups.
Uncovering the Horrors
We decided to reach out to the now-deceased Andrew Breitbart. In short order, Breitbart, Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, Hannah Giles and I created a nonprofit named Citizen Patriot Response to organize tea party groups to help communities and individuals in need without governmental funding and dependence. Though the organization was not founded solely for helping human trafficking victims, the issue was a top priority. My home was quickly turned into a shelter for human trafficking victims under the auspices of the newly formed nonprofit. The idea was that my home could provide the short-term and intermediate shelter and food for the victims. This would hopefully make possible more investigations on the part of the FBI. We had intended for this shelter, coupled with my advocacy and lobbying on behalf of victims to the FBI, to provide a model for how citizens could organize and unite to help law enforcement bring justice to a greater number of human trafficking victims. Laster began to utilize this shelter as a refuge for the human trafficking victims she worked with. I began to use every possible relationship within the FBI to pressure the organization to take on more human trafficking investigations. Though my efforts were initially unfruitful, I did finally find a very caring FBI special agent, whom I will refer to as Special Agent X. Special Agent X began to dutifully examine the cases Laster and I presented. The forms necessary for the appropriate visa applications were signed in a number of our cases, and it appeared that justice was finally occurring with a little push from concerned citizens and a compassionate federal agent. I also asked Laster to become a human source for the FBI so that she could better assist the victims she represented and help initiate investigations when her network had information of new cases. Laster agreed and was opened by the FBI as a human source.
An Unwilling DOJ
But the majority of the cases we worked on with Special Agent X never turned into investigations for the FBI—even the ones involving children that the FBI was mandated to act on. Special Agent X was shipped to a different part of the United States and was forbidden to work on human trafficking issues any further, even though the guidelines had been followed. I was deactivated without cause (meaning in good standing). As of press time, the new special agent assigned to Laster returned her call but hasn't communicated with her about the cases. Laster has also not been fully reimbursed by the FBI for time and expenses she incurred at its request.
I have since learned that, though I was correct on my initial analysis of the issues the FBI was having regarding human trafficking investigations, there were many other factors at play. ...
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