New police unit shines light on human trafficking in Suffolk

Posted: Updated:
HAUPPAUGE -

Suffolk officials have announced the formation of a new police unit tasked with combating human trafficking.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, District Attorney Tim Sini and the FBI made the announcement in Hauppauge Monday. They say the unit is the first of its kind on Long Island.

“Our goal is to save lives and eradicate the traffickers who are organizing large-scale operations for personal gratification and financial gain,” said Commissioner Hart at a news conference.

READ: DA Sini: 5 alleged Bloods indicted in sex trafficking ring

Investigators say traffickers use opioids to lure young women in, then force them into a world of prostitution.

Suffolk officials say they do not want to consider the women as criminals.  Instead, they want to help them out of the trafficking rings and forced prostitution.

“Human trafficking fuels drug sales and fuels violence predominantly against women,” said District Attorney Sini. “Which is why we have to stop treating the women involved in human trafficking schemes as criminals and start treating them as victims as they are."

READ: DA: Siblings had ‘sex slaves’ hooked on drugs in Suffolk

Officials say the unit officially launched in March.  Since that time, Commissioner Hart says indictments for human trafficking in Suffolk County have increased by 900 percent.

In a statement provided to News 12 Long Island, Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun says the Nassau County Police Department also pays close attention to human trafficking cases:

“For many years The Nassau County Police Department has had Detectives assigned from their Special Victims and Narcotics Squads who are specially trained to deal with Human Trafficking cases. These Squads work collaboratively with the District Attorneys Office Human Trafficking Unit to arrest and prosecute those individuals that violate the law and to ensure the safety of those who are unable to protect themselves.”
 

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