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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 15, 2000


               Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons
                            Coordination Center

Today, in furtherance of the President's International Crime Control Strategy, the Departments of State and Justice announced the establishment of a Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Coordination Center. While at their core distinct, these related problems result in massive human tragedy and affect our national security, primarily with respect to crime, health and welfare, and border control.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants are moved by international smuggling organizations, often in harsh or even inhumane conditions, from their countries of origin to the United States. United Nations estimates indicate that migrant smuggling has grown to a $7 billion dollar annual global criminal industry.

An estimated 700,000 to two million women and children are trafficked globally each year. Trafficking victims suffer egregious human rights abuses. The poverty and the relative powerlessness of women in many countries create an endless supply of victims for this modern-day form of slavery. Trafficking also is exacerbating the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases, making it a significant public health issue as well.

The Center is intended to achieve greater integration and overall effectiveness in U.S. government enforcement and other response efforts. The Center will bring together representatives from the policy, law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic communities in one central location, thereby furthering interagency information sharing and coordination. The Center also will promote intensified efforts by foreign governments and international organizations to combat migrant smugglers and those who traffic in persons. The Center will work closely with existing U.S. government entities with policy and law enforcement coordination responsibilities that separately address migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons.

In performing this mission, the Center will help to advance the three primary objectives of the U.S. Government strategy to counter migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons: (1) prevent and deter smuggling and trafficking activity; (2) investigate and prosecute the criminals involved in this activity; and (3) protect and assist victims as provided in applicable law and policy.