Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Trafficking Cases in Tribal Communities

Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Trafficking Cases in Tribal Communities
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-11-05
Unit 1 Article: Combatting Trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives
Unit 2 Workbook: Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Trafficking Cases in Tribal Communities
Unit 3 Recording: Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Trafficking Cases in Tribal Communities

Sex trafficking cases are already demanding as it is with victims being treated as criminals, the challenges of proving coercion and providing trauma-informed care to survivors. But this can be further complicated when elements of the case involve tribal jurisdiction.

Leslie Hagen is this session’s esteemed instructor. She is the Department of Justice’s first National Indian Country Training Coordinator. With her expertise, she has end-to-end training responsibilities on justice topics in Indian Country. Prior to this role, she served as the Native American Issues Coordinator for the Executive Office for United States Attorney.

This webinar provides a comprehensive discussion of the different considerations, issues, and legislation related to sex trafficking in Indian County. Some of points Leslie included on this course are:

  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 that institutes trafficking as a modern form of slavery and a human rights violation.
  • Chapter 77 of the US Code that establishes the concept of coercion and crimes of exploitation.
  • Differentiating the concepts of trafficking and smuggling based on the victim, characters involved, and the element of transport.
  • Studies that highlight the extent of victimization in tribal communities zeroing in on physical violence, psychological abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • The risk factors why American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) are vulnerable to exploitation and the reasons of traffickers for targeting them.
  • A glimpse into the experience of trafficking victims and the correlation of running away and being entangled in child welfare to sex trafficking.
  • An overview of studies that further emphasize the prevalence of sex trafficking in tribal communities, their vulnerabilities and risk factors, and the consequences of trafficking.
  • A deep-dive into the 18 USC §1591: Sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, or coercion.
    • Its definitions, terms used, and prescribed punishment.
    • Considerations on jurisdiction.
    • The Four Factor Test to determine how trafficking impacts interstate commerce.
    • Understanding the types of activities included in interstate commerce.
    • A case example that demonstrates how a case applied 18 USC § 1591 and § 2422B to prosecute sex trafficking.
  • Challenges in prosecution that involves difficulties proving coercion, reluctance to cooperate, and trauma-informed approach to the survivor.
  • A look into how trafficking cases are prosecuted in tribal communities.
  • Examples of tribal codes that address sex trafficking.
    • Snoqualmie’s similar definition of sex trafficking to the 18 USC §1591 albeit minimal penalty for violators.
    • Pascua Yaqui’s Tribal Code that includes producing visual or print medium in the details.
    • Choctaw Nation’s code that had additional elements of affirmative defense for victims who are made to commit offenses, and guidelines that ensure a trauma-informed response and care to survivors.
  • How federal, local and tribal governments can work together to address sex trafficking.
  • Oregon’s human rights fact-finding report that outlined areas for improvement and key themes related to sex trafficking in Native populations.
  • In the Q&A segment, Leslie addressed the participant’s questions about:
    • How historical trauma manifests in the tribal population.
    • Isolation as a contributing factor to the vulnerability of those from tribal communities.
    • Who the traffickers are.
    • Trafficking cases on the LGBTQ tribal population.
    • Aggravating and mitigating circumstances to the case examples.
    • The basis for federal jurisdiction.
    • Jurisdiction issues on the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case.
    • Community programs geared toward preventing sex trafficking in native populations.


Resources Mentioned During Webinar:


Audience Comments:

  • “The risk factors were mind-blowing because so many native communities and young people are at risk.” — Angel
  • “Just hearing the facts and stats on this specific topic is very eye-opening.” — April
  • “All about the characteristics of different types of human trafficking, and the traffickers themselves.” — Alexis
  • “It was very informative to learn about the challenges of federal prosecutions and an explanation of the types of facts/investigation that is so important regarding, for example, proving the interstate commerce element. Thanks!” — Emily
  • “The Choctaw’s nations clear protocol on how to manage a victim of human trafficking.” — Ingrid
  • “Good to see that work is being done within Native communities and jurisdictions.” — Jiibay
  • “There are extra complications when dealing with sex trafficking victims from tribal communities, including distrust of non-tribal law enforcement, confusion of jurisdiction, and circumstances within tribal communities which lead to higher vulnerability to human trafficking.” — Jessica
  • “It was insightful to learn how natives are even more vulnerable and how their population are victims of human trafficking in different and similar ways to non-natives. Our children, regardless of race, are vulnerable when they are homeless and runaways. But living in these rural communities makes an impact on how they are taken or manipulated as well.” — Zeysha



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