African leaders visit Tuscaloosa for human trafficking training

Members of the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force spent their Monday with an important mission: Showcasing how they’re helping eradicate human trafficking and child exploitation for visitors from several African nations.

Law enforcement members from several African nations including the Republic of Guinea were in Tuscaloosa to learn as part of Alabama’s International Visitor Leadership program.

“Since we arrived here, we have learned so much,” said Burkina Faso Police Chief Oumarou Inamin.

The purpose of the program is to build understanding between the U.S. and other nations through visits like these.

“Being here in this seminar delights me very much,” said Republic of Guinea Police Department Head Marie Gomez.

Agents with the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force taught a specialized course for these African leaders at the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

“We just wanted to express what our task force is doing to eradicate human trafficking and child exploitation,” said Tuscaloosa Police Sgt. Ashley Blalock said. “First and foremost, through enforcing state and federal laws, but also through educating the public and how that has made us as successful as we are.”

Blalock said there are plenty of similarities between the trafficking going on in these African countries and right here at home.

“They have an issue with human trafficking as far as victims who get lured through false promises,” she said. “When they got to the other countries, they would have their passports and legal documents taken from them, which is similar to what we see here with labor trafficking and sex trafficking of our illegal immigrants that they are promised here by education or a lucrative job and then when they get here, they are forced into laboring trafficking situations where a lot of times their traffickers will hold their visas until they expire and use that as a threat to hold over their head.”

The West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force has already worked three major human trafficking cases this year.

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