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Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares joined Prince William County police leadership and others Sept. 13 in hopes of raising awareness of and increasing urgency around the issue of human trafficking locally. 

It was the third of Miyares’ roundtables on the issue: He previously held similar events in southwest Virginia and Hampton Roads. But he said the problem of human trafficking is increasing statewide, hand-in-hand with an increase in addiction since the COVID-19 pandemic that has led some to enter trafficking. 

“Too many people that live up here in Northern Virginia think that, ‘Well, it’s not happening in our community.’ It is,” Miyares told reporters before the event. “It is one of the most insidious crimes.”

Both Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham and Miyares had little in the way of specific data to describe the scale of the problem in the Northern Virginia area, but Miyares said familial trafficking – in which a family member, often deeply addicted, will traffic a young woman in their family – has become more frequent.

“We’ve seen an explosion of familial trafficking, family members that are struggling with addiction that then traffic their own children, their own daughters,” Miyares told reporters.

At last week’s event, most of which was closed to the media, Miyares was joined by Newsham, John Richmond, a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for trafficking, Prince William Department of Social Services Director Courtney Tierney, Prince William School Board Chair Babur Lateef and others. 

Tanya Gould, a survivor of human trafficking and Miyares’ director for anti-human trafficking, also spoke about the need to make combating trafficking a priority in schools, police departments and elsewhere. 

Richmond told the assembled group that the country – and the world – is failing victims of human trafficking, too often arresting and prosecuting sex workers rather than those who frequently traffic them. If the county eventually wants to decriminalize sex work as other jurisdictions have done, Richmond said, that would be OK, but while the laws are on the books, why don’t police go after the buyers or sex workers to get closer to the people running networks of sexually trafficked women?

Newsham and Richmond both said more needs to be done to simply identify victims of trafficking from those who go missing in the area. 

“Those are the young people that are vulnerable. They don’t have adult supervision, and those are the type of folks that these predators will prey on,” Newsham said. “So what we do here is if we get a report from a missing person, we put all our efforts into locating them. If it’s a young person that needs services, we try to direct them to services. There’s a lot of non-governmental organizations that help us with that and … that’s one of the key ways to do it.”

 

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

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Reporter

Jared Foretek covers Prince William County Public Schools, the city of Manassas and transportation news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(11) comments

Fake Commenter

Kudos to Gov Youngkin and AG Miyares for raising awareness and focusing on this issue. This is why Virginians elected them. Law and order and time to end sanctuary cities/counties.

CarWash Bonzai

Youngkin's Virginia.

Cornelius Papadoupolos

I got an idea? How about we close the southern border which is the biggest reason for human trafficking. Elect these worthless democrats and this is what you get time and time again. The very people who are supposedly there for "people of color" are the exact same people who champion the policies that spread misery to them. I've got news for you guys...Latinos are much smarter than the leftists think. They can tell when they are being sold a pile of mierda.

CarWash Bonzai

Let's face it! Neither parties care about human trafficking. We had the biggest child pedophile case in US history and none of our politicians/billionaires were tried/prosecuted for being involved in the ring. Everybody from the Clinton to TRUMP. Democrats and Republicans. Wake up and stop being naïve. BOTH PARTIES are at fault. I specifically remember when Republicans had no balls to tell Trump to release those children back into the arms of their parents when he took them away on the border. So, why is this human trafficking thing they do so loud and boisterous?

John Dutko

Like when Robert Kraft got off?

Duke Nukem

Sorry to disappoint but it looks like Gaetz isn't getting charged. I know you were getting off on the thought of that. We know they won't stop trying though.

John Dutko

@Duke

That dude is guilty af. What innocent man asks for a pardon for a crime they "didn't" commit?

Duke Nukem

Wow man you got it all figured out. You should run border patrol instead of a car wash.

John Dutko

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/CBP%20-%20FY%202020%20Entry%20Exit%20Overstay%20Report_0.pdf

The majority of illegal immigrants come by plane into all ports and overstay their welcome.

Paul Benedict

That report was before the Biden's regime seized power. We know of 1.7 illegals entering the US in 2021 and in 2022 it is already 2.2 million and rising. The vast majority didn't fly in.

John Dutko

Ok, so Trump didn't do anything to stem the illegal caravans and murderous demons who constantly crave Patriotic American Blood?

That is what you just said. Trump did nothing for 4 years.

Comb through the data and reports of the last 10 years. Hell, even go back to 2000 when Bush encouraged businesses to turn a blind eye to migrants to offset cost of labor.

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