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Bronx DA works to tackle growing issues of human trafficking

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January marks human trafficking awareness month, and News 12's Asha McKenzie sat down with the Bronx district attorney to discuss how she is working to tackle an issue that can go unnoticed.

District Attorney Darcel Clark and her human trafficking unit say human trafficking is a growing issue that they are working to control. Clark says they are trying to dispel common myths about human trafficking, including that it doesn’t happen locally or that traffickers are strangers.

The human trafficking unit consists of one chief, four assistant district attorneys and a social worker designated to trafficking cases.

Statistics from 2019 show a 100% increase from 2018 of arrests for those promoting prostitution.

"Two types of things that we see the most for victims of sex trafficking and human trafficking are people who are in a domestic violence relationship where there is a prostitution component, and we also see runaways,” says Clark.

Clark's team says human trafficking can be subtle, not what people may see in the movies. They say it’s also not always in the way it played out on surveillance video during what police say was the kidnapping hoax of Bronx teen Karol Sanchez.

"It’s unfortunate when certain things happen because it has an impact on others who may want to come forward. What we want to make sure is that victims come forward who are being harmed,” she says.

The team can not only prosecute the traffickers, but protect and provide resources to victims to help them stand on their own.

"Maybe they have been doing this for years, and this is the only thing they know how to do. But there are always skills that they have, that they can use that and make a career for themselves,” says Clark.

Clark is asking community members to be aware of changed behavior and report what doesn't seem right.

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