REMARKS GIVEN BY OCDA TONY RACKAUCKAS AT THE 2015 ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING TRAINING SEMINAR
On behalf of Congressman Royce, Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Deputy Chief Julian Harvey representing the Anaheim Police Department, our lead agency –
Thank you all for coming.
Your attendance here today shows that you care and that you are responsible business leaders. I hope that by the end of this seminar, we can show you that being a responsible business leader could actually benefit your business.
You are going to hear from Congressman Royce – who has been the ferocious leader nationally and internationally to combat this evil. We have been working together for more than three decades to make reforms in public safety, including making the penalty for the crime of torture, a life sentence.
You will hear from Deputy Chief Julian Harvey whose agency has been an innovator in using the victim centered approach to combat human trafficking and changing the lives of young women and children who fall prey to these thugs who have no regard for human life.
In an effort to combat modern day slavery, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office formed the Human Exploitation And Trafficking or HEAT Unit in April 2013, and we have since done our best to make Orange County the most unwelcome place for exploiters and human traffickers.
To target perpetrators who exploit and traffic women and children for financial gain, the OCDA along with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force deployed a tactical plan called PERP: Prosecution of human trafficking perpetrators and sex purchasers; Education for law enforcement to properly handle human trafficking and pandering cases; Resources to raise public awareness and provide assistance to the victims; and Publicity to inform the community about the problem and notify human traffickers and sex purchasers that this crime cannot be perpetrated without suffering severe consequences.
We have obtained almost 100 convictions, sending most to state prison, including two for life in state prison. We obtained our first conviction of a defendant who was trafficking a woman for the benefit of his criminal street gang. We are getting higher sentences on these traffickers than even bank robbers. Perhaps it’s because traffickers rob humans of their dignity and freedom, and scar them for life.
You being here will definitely change a child’s life, if not save a life. What you will learn is that human trafficking and exploitation is not only thriving in our wonderful county, but we are a magnet for them. You may not know have known that in our Orange County hotels, our victims have been whipped with a belt, punished with ice baths, and burned with a hot iron. The level of violence involved is incredible.
The bad guys are grumbling as they sit in jails and prison that we are being too hard on the traffickers — That we are not “playing around” and giving them 20-year sentences.
The task force has helped many children and young women get out of “the life.”
I know you are here because you are frustrated with what your competitors are doing, or you don’t know how to help even when you suspect foul play.
Unbeknownst to some hotel and motel workers, pimps use these establishments as a ‘cage’ to enslave victims. We need to come together as a community to say that modern-day slavery is not acceptable, and we must work together to stop human trafficking and exploitation.
After Congressman Royce and Assistant Chief Harvey welcome you, we will turn it over to the various members of our Task Force.
At the end of the seminar, you will all get a completion certificate. I will urge everyone who checks into a hotel or motel in Orange County, they look for the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force logo, which means they are patronizing establishments that are working to keep these bad actors out and away from their hotels and motels. I sure wouldn’t want to support establishments that facilitate human trafficking with the risk of having pimps and enslaved victims in the next room over.
Finally — Kudos to you, for putting principles over profits.