Rep. Chris Smith provides updates on human trafficking legislation, Prosecutor Raymond Santiago Shares County Initiatives.

Event highlights local and federal efforts to combat one of the largest and most profitable criminal enterprises in the world  

TAP into Middletown

By Jeanne Wall

Published May 22, 2024

Last Updated May 25, 2024

   “It will take each and every one of us to end the scourge of modern-day slavery,” Smith said. “Human traffickers never take holiday—nor can we.”

MONMOUTH COUNTY— Congressman Chris Smith, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Prosecutor Raymond Santiago and a panel of experts in the fight against human trafficking, took part in a symposium held at the Monmouth County Sheriff’s headquarters, in Freehold on Monday.

It was a unique opportunity for the large audience, mainly law enforcement officers who had the chance to hear first hand from the leading law-maker in the war on human trafficking; Congressional representative Chris Smith.

Smith spoke about legislation he authored that was signed into law… the very laws the police officers are enforcing.

Smith is a dedicated warrior in the fight against human trafficking, one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.  “Forced labor – modern day slavery – generates $236 billion in illegal profits per year according to the International Labour Organization,” said Smith. “More than two-thirds—73 percent—of these illegal profits come from forced commercial sexual exploitation. Twenty four years ago, the US Congress approved, and the then President signed historic bipartisan legislation that Smith authored; The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). It is a comprehensive initiative to combat sex and labor trafficking in the United States and around the world. Since that time, Smith has authored four additional laws to combat human trafficking.

This year, the House of Representatives passed another comprehensive bill that Smith wrote called the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act. Smith is currently working hard to get the Senate to pass this legislation, which is urgently needed to strengthen the war against trafficking by enhancing educational programs, strengthening laws, and adding accountability.

Monmouth County Prosecutor, Raymond Santiago spoke about the vulnerability of human trafficking victims, and the trauma that the victim carries with them. He also went over an initiative to alert motel and hotel owners about signs to look out for in identifying possible victims of human trafficking, and important resources for anyone to reference who may be a victim of human trafficking.

Smith also spoke about the International Megan’s Law he authored, that was signed into effect in 2016, after eight years of pushing it forward.

In addition to law enforcement officers, the audience included education representatives, and advocates dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking and missing persons, such as Ed Parze, founder of The Stephanie Nicole Parze Foundation. 

Additional symposium speakers included Julia Einbond, CEO of Covenant House NJ; Amanda Leese, Senior Vice President of Reentry and Navigator Services Volunteers of America Delaware Valley; Chief Christopher Winters of the Pine Hill Police Department; Andrea Nurko, Supervisory Special Agent at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark; and Hillary Evans, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at 3Strands Global Foundation.

“Knowing that more must be done to end these hideous crimes, it’s a special honor and privilege to join Sheriff Shaun Golden, County Prosecutor Raymond Santiago and five amazing leaders in the fight against human trafficking at today’s symposium.”

Sheriff Golden Hosts Human Trafficking Symposium: Rep. Chris Smith provides updates on human trafficking legislation, Prosecutor Raymond Santiago Shares County Initiatives. | Middletown, NJ News TAPinto