January 27, 2023

NEW JERSEY (WABC) — New Jersey homeland security investigators and officials on Wednesday revealed new ways to combat the growing problem of human trafficking, including ways to report it and what police should look out for.

“I’ve been abused, I’ve been hurt, I’ve been abused, I’ve been abused worse than I was at home,” victim Treia Boozier said.

Boozier was a victim of human trafficking at the tender age of 16. She lived in foster care with an abusive mother.

“I ran away to find someone who would accept me, to find someone who would make me feel loved,” Boozier said.

She wanted to feel loved and grope for false promises.

“I was running from something worse,” she said.

Now, through Montclair State University, Boozier has become a voice of change for victims of human trafficking, which authorities call modern day slavery.

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“It’s a business that needs to be broken down and dismantled on every single front, and that’s what law enforcement is here for,” Boozier said.

During this human trafficking awareness month, law enforcement led by Homeland Security joined the higher education to help victims.

“Human trafficking is a terrible crime, whether it’s sex trafficking or labor trafficking, we’re here to say it won’t be tolerated,” said Rickey Patel of Homeland Security Investigations, Newark.

There is strong pressure to educate potential victims, who largely come from marginalized communities and are targeted by abusers.

“They’re taking advantage of immigration status and drug addiction,” said Phillip Salinger, US Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

They also take advantage of runaways, the homeless, welfare recipients and LGBTQ+ communities, but that’s not all.

“This is a crime that knows no borders,” said Ali Boak of Montclair State University’s Global Center for Human Trafficking.

Global human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion in profits annually

“We can provide a safe place to give a voice to those who don’t necessarily have a voice,” said Jonathan Koppel, president of Montclair State University.

The university and law enforcement signed a document to work together to eliminate human trafficking and ensure victims know they are not being ignored.

“Empower victims to let them know their grievances will be heard,” said Essex County District Attorney Theodore Stephen III. “You should report. People will listen to them and then there will be prosecutions.”

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