January 22, 2020
If you have information about a person, of any age, who is being trafficked, please call 503-823-3333. For life-threatening, or in-progress emergencies, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is proud to support and recognize National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“Human trafficking is a complex issue that involves those who are exploited into engaging in sex acts for some sort of fee or money,” said Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney JR Ujifusa, who supervises the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Team. “The amount of money and the amount of demand not only in this community but in communities throughout the world propels trafficking.”
The District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Team, which includes two prosecutors and two victim advocates, works closely with law enforcement on a local, state, and federal level to take a victim-centered approach toward prosecuting buyers and traffickers.
“We know as the Human Trafficking Team and as law enforcement, we are just one piece of the puzzle and that it takes a large group – a community – to help victims, to do this type of work and to make sure that we move forward in improving the lives of those victims and survivors who have been effected and that we are holding people accountable,” said SDDA Ujifusa.
The effects of human trafficking on its victims can be devastating and lifelong. Trafficking can impact children, teens, all gender types and socioeconomic levels.
“Human trafficking occurs because, unfortunately, it can be a lucrative criminal enterprise,” SDDA Ujifusa said. “Human trafficking is extremely dangerous for a lot of reasons and one of those is that it’s a crime that is premeditated.”
The music and entertainment industry can often glamorize human trafficking and cause a desensitization to its real dangers.
“Frequently, we see traffickers manipulating their victims so much so that the victims often believe that they are in some sort of romantic relationship with their abuser, but in actuality, the trafficker is taking advantage of the other person and gradually expanding the boundaries until the victim finds themselves engaging in prostitution related activities,” said SDDA Ujifusa.
Recently, a 26-year-old man received a prison sentence after being convicted in Multnomah County of meeting a preteen online using social media and then grooming her for years. During the process, he raped and compelled her into having sex with complete strangers for money.
“The process of grooming, recruiting and controlling these individuals can be short or extremely long in duration,” said SDDA Ujifusa. “Once an individual gets a victim to the point in which they can traffic them that trafficking can last for an extremely long amount of time.”
This is a crime that can occur anywhere. It occurs privately in homes, hotels, motels, apartments, in cars, online and on social media.
“Human trafficking cases are extremely complex investigations and prosecutions,” said SDDA Ujifusa. “There are many challenges because trafficking mostly happens behind closed doors. It happens with individuals who are trying to hide their activity.”
The District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Team recognizes that each case is unique and requires different approaches, which is why the team is committed to providing the survivor regular updates about the prosecution and to provide them wraparound services and support.
“I hope that individuals out in the community who are victims of trafficking – whether they believe they are victims of trafficking or not – feel comfortable that they know they can come forward and talk to the DA’s Office,” said SDDA Ujifusa. “At the same time, I hope they understand that individuals who purchase them and who traffic them will be held accountable because that’s not okay. These survivors deserve better.”
- Multnomah County Resource Page – Sex Trafficking
- Portland Police Bureau – Human Trafficking
- FBI – Human Trafficking
- LifeWorks Northwest
- New Avenues for Youth
- Polaris Project
Important Phone Numbers
- Emergency help: 9-1-1
- Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Victim Assistance Program: 503-988-3222
- Non-emergency dispatch in Multnomah County: 503-823-3333
- CrimeStoppers of Oregon: 503-823-HELP (4357)
- National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
Contact: Brent Weisberg, Communications Director