Montclair State University partners with law enforcement to end human trafficking

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Thursday, January 26, 2023
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NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Homeland Security Investigators and officials in New Jersey on Wednesday, unveiled new ways to fight the growing issue of human trafficking, including ways to report it and what police should look out for.

"I was abused, I was violated, I was mistreated, I was mistreated worse than I was at home," victim Treia Boozier said.

Boozier became the victim of human trafficking at the tender age of 16. She was in foster care living with an abusive mother.

"I was running away to find somebody to accept me, to find somebody who would make me feel loved," Boozier said.

She wanted to feel loved and feel for false promises.

"I was running away from something to something even worse," she said.

Now Boozier has become a voice of change through Montclair State University for the victims of human trafficking which authorities call modern slavery.

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"It is a business that needs to be broken down and dismantled in every single front and that's what law enforcement is here to do," Boozier said.

During this Human Trafficking Awareness Month, law enforcement led by Homeland Security joined higher education to help victims.

"Human trafficking is a horrific crime whether it be sex or labor trafficking, we are here to say it will not be tolerated," said Ricky J. Patel, Homeland Security Investigations Newark Special Agent in Charge.

There is a strong push to educate potential victims who are mostly from marginalized communities and are targeted by abusers.

"They exploit immigration status and substance dependence," said Phillip R. Sellinger, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The also exploit runaways, homeless, people on welfare and LGBTQ+ communities, but it doesn't stop there.

"This is a crime that knows no boundaries," said Ali Boak, Director for Montclair State University's Global Center on Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking worldwide brings in an estimated $150 billion a year in profits

"We can provide a safe place to give voice to those who don't necessarily have voice," Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell said.

The university and law enforcement signed a document to work together to eliminate human trafficking and make sure victims know they will not be ignored.

"Empower victims to let them know their complaints will be heard," Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II said. "They should come forward. People will listen to them and prosecutions will occur after that."

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