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Friday, January 15th, 2021

Funds target Virginia human trafficking

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has earmarked $525,000 in federal grant funding to continue the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force (HRHTTF) for at least three more years.

The funding allotment via the DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) would allow the Task Force to expand into new locales, including Williamsburg, Smithfield, as well as Mathews, Accomack, and Northampton counties, supporting the Task Force Coordinator housed in the Office of the Attorney General.

The funds would also pay for overtime for law enforcement who are working on human trafficking cases.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has done since its inception in 2017,” Attorney General Mark R. Herring said. “This new round of grant funding will allow the Task Force to continue their important work and will help us make even more progress in combating human trafficking in the Hampton Roads area, including these new localities.”

Three years ago, Herring secured the original $1.45 million in grant funding to create the task force, officials said, noting it was launched in January 2017.

Herring said the reality of human trafficking is it does not involve conspiracies, but most often involves vulnerable individuals lured into dangerous situations with the promise of financial support, stability, or acceptance.

The task force’s scope of work includes a comprehensive approach to human trafficking, meeting victims’ personal needs and the community’s public safety goals.

“This grant has enabled the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force to exponentially expand efforts to combat human trafficking in southeastern Virginia,” Raymond Villanueva, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C., said.