Cases of reported human trafficking are on the increase in Maryland, where Gov. Martin O'Malley said hundreds are working tirelessly as "modern abolitionists" to free victims of sexual slavery.
From FBI agents to social service providers, nearly 500 people attended the Governor's Conference on Human Trafficking Monday at CCBC to collaborate in the battle against human trafficking—a crime involving force, fraud or coercion to get another person to perform commercial sex acts.
"Together, we fight to protect the human rights of those confined, oppressed and exploited," O'Malley said. "They've been victimized, they've been locked into a very narrow and cruel space, and our job as modern abolitionists is to free them from that slavery."
Agencies around the state have succeeded in that task by working together, he said, highlighting a recent case as an example.
Bennie Veasey, a 32-year-old from Cleveland, was convicted in fall 2013 of human trafficking in Baltimore County.
Police found Veasey after an April 2013 sting in a Towson hotel where a 19-year-old prostitute was picked up, according to WBAL.
Veasey forced the teen into prostitution so he could pay his legal fees for a rape charge in Ohio, Patch previously reported.
The Baltimore County state's attorney's office prosecuted the case, resulting in a 20-year sentence. Victim advocate agency TurnAround helped secure services for the 19-year-old as she returned home, O'Malley said.
Since the 2013 conference on human trafficking—this was the third year for the event—O'Malley said the local FBI child exploitation task force recovered 22 juvenile survivors of human trafficking and dismantled eight sex trafficking organizations.
Reports of trafficking in Maryland increased from previous years, O'Malley said.
- 27 in Anne Arundel County
- 13 in Baltimore County
- 10 in Howard County
- 3 in Washington County
- 1 in Frederick County
- 1 in Prince George's County
In 2013, Maryland had the eighth highest number of calls about human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, according to O'Malley.
The center received 707 calls, 31 online tips and 24 emails about trafficking in Maryland last year, according to O'Malley. One third of the phone calls were related to labor trafficking, an issue that he said the state will focus on in the coming months.
This is the first in a series of articles based on the Governor's Conference on Human Trafficking. Stay tuned for coverage on prevention, trends and recent trafficking cases in Maryland.