Federal and state prosecutors said Thursday they are seeing an increasing number of cases of human trafficking in Alabama including those in which people are brought into the country for illegal activities such as prostitution.
Carrie Gray, a deputy district attorney In Montgomery County, said 1 of her cases involved a victim who met a man in Georgia. He said the man offered to take her to see a movie and then suggested that they spend time hanging out together. She said eventually the 16-year-old girl was brought to Montgomery and forced to work as a prostitute.
She said in these cases the victim often thinks of the suspect as a best friend.
Gray and other local prosecutors joined Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and U.S. Attorney George Beck of the Middle District of Alabama at a news conference Thursday to discuss federal and state efforts to combat human trafficking. Strange said the news conference was called to highlight that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Beck and Strange said they consider human trafficking to be a modern day form of slavery and that they would work together to make sure cases are prosecuted in state or federal court.
Human trafficking involves suspects who keep others, often children, under their control and force them to perform illegal activities, including prostitution. In some cases people are brought into this country and held against their will.
A law recently was adopted in the Alabama Legislature to make human trafficking a felony. Republican state Sen. Dick Brewbaker of Montgomery said he is introducing a bill requiring the posting of a national hotline number in locations where it might be seen by trafficking victims. Brewbaker said those locations would include places like inexpensive hotels and massage parlors.
By BOB JOHNSON