MCLEAN, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — It’s a bigger problem than you know. That’s the message that was delivered at a town hall-style meeting in McLean following a human trafficking investigation this week.
Immigration officials removed two Filipino women from a northern Virginia home owned by the government of Saudi Arabia April 30 as part of an investigation into a report of human trafficking. But the town hall meeting was actually scheduled before the raid, and that’s because local experts say human trafficking is a more widespread problem than most people think.
Fairfax County Police Detective Bill Woolf told WNEW’s Kevin Patrick that authorities are increasingly investigating sex slavery and labor trafficking, or cases of foreigners promised education or citizenship and then taken advantage of by their American employers once they arrive in the states.
“The most important thing that community needs to know is that they are the solution,” said Sara Pomeroy, Director and Founder of the Richmond Justice Initiative.
“If there’s men going in and out of the house in the middle of the day, that’s a little mysterious,” she said. “If you see a girl that is looking down, or not allowed to speak, that’s a sign.”
And the problem isn’t limited to Virginia. A Prince George’s County, Md. couple pled guilty last year to harboring a Filipina national whom they arranged to bring to the United States under false pretenses.
Prosecutors have said that Alfred and Gloria Edwards, of Upper Marlboro, had the woman working in their home for a decade without pay, and threatened her with deportation, among other things, if she left, The Washington Post reports.