FBI, CMPD Investigators Present Program
On Combating Human Trafficking Locally
By Kay May
Two Members of Human Trafficking Task Force presented a program on the “Collaborative Approach to Combat Human Trafficking.”Detective Sandy Richardson of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and Special Agent Karen Walsh of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) talked about human trafficking and the collaborative approach to combating it.
Detective Richardson has been with the CMPD for 23 years and is the Supervisor of the Human Trafficking Task Force. Special Agent Karen Walsh joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998 and served almost 10 years in the New York City Division of the FBI conducting primarily complex financial fraud investigations, public corruption, and the events of 9/11/2001. For the past seven years she has been assigned to the Charlotte Division of the FBI where she conducted financial investigations and performed special operations. She currently works on a Violent Crimes Against Children squad in the Charlotte Division, investigating a myriad of crimes which violate federal law. She is passionate about keeping our children safe.
Detective Richardson shared how the CMPD uses various methods to identify potential victims. These include Online ads, surveillance, electronic evidence and interviews. There are many websites that promote the use of girls for the sex trade among them are Craig’s List, Twitter and Facebook. The CMPD uses the various sources to identify victims in the investigative process. The Human Trafficking Task Force focuses on girls who are under age and girls who were coerced into this trade.
Detective Richardson also talked about the language used when conducting the interviews with the potential victims and how this language is unique to this trade. She also talked about the Risk Factors of the victims. These include:
Prior Abuse or neglect
Rejected or Marginalized
She stressed that the victims do not see themselves as victims. They do not believe they are being abused.
Special Agent Karen Walsh discussed some common traits of the victims. These include but are not limited to the following:
Truancy, malnutrition/fatigue, anxiety, poor hygiene, multiple cell phones, brandings, markings or multiple tatoos. These do not necessarily mean that the girls with these traits are victims, but can be some traits. If they get a lead, they always follow up and not all leads turn out to be a victim.
Special Agent Walsh shared that the successful cases are partnerships between multiple agencies. She also provided resources for anyone who wants more information or potential victims who need help.