Many find it difficult to believe that just miles outside of New York City, one of America’s largest, most progressive and forward-thinking metropolises, an issue of modern slavery lurks in the shadows. Human trafficking is a crime of darkness, it thrives when it is unseen and left controlled by a small population. The East End of Long Island has, in recent years, been identified as a top 21 hotspot in the United States for human trafficking.
Whether it be forced labor under poor conditions and devoid of regulations on farms, in homes or in factories, or sex work facilitated and controlled by a trafficker, the tourist-filled towns of Eastern Long Island have offered the perfect environment for human trafficking to flourish.
Local law enforcement agencies and victim service providers have found that MS-13, a growing Central and South American gang has become a huge perpetrator of sex trafficking, often forcing victims to perform sexual acts “for” or in honor of the gang with threats or acts of violence as retaliation for “dishonor.” Like many who fall victims to human trafficking, most who are introduced to the sex trade are taken as runaways within just days of being on the street.
VIBS is working in conjunction with county, local and national executives and law enforcement agencies with the shared goal to irradiate human trafficking and assist victims in restoring a sense of normalcy to their daily lives.