by Peggy Freeman
In a January 2012 News Release, Jerome Horton, Chairman of the 4th District California State Board of Equalization announced that the Board is taking a strong stance against human trafficking. Human trafficking is the capture and enslavement of human beings for personal exploitation. It is modern day slavery! Even though the African slave trade was one of the most dynamic in history, human trafficking of men, women and children reaches far greater numbers.
It is estimated that 12.1 million people are enslaved worldwide and approximately 17,000 victims are imported into the United States each year. Los Angeles is one of the top three destinations in America because L.A.’s diverse communities make it easier for traffickers to hide and transport victims.
“Human Trafficking not only deprives individuals of their rights but it also increases health risks and fuels the growth of organized crime” (TIP Report).
“Many victims fear retribution through black magic, physical and sexual abuse.” According to the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking (CAST)
In some cases people are preyed upon during a natural disaster like the Tsunami in Japan. Perpetrators travel abroad, capture and enslave their captives for forced labor, sex, prostitution, and even domestic duties. Adults who work in the United States may be hired through illegal employment agencies.
Children are mainstreamed into adoption communities and sold to individuals who want to adopt them. Today a greater number of men are being captured, and some men and women are being killed for internal organs, which are sold on the black market. You may ask why they don’t escape. They are threatened to be killed deported and fear harm to their families. Since the perpetrators steal their legal documents and the victims are unfamiliar with the language and areas they are brought to; escaping seems hopeless.
However, Chairman Jerome Horton is taking a new approach. He is implementing an initiative to create a multi-agency task force with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking, the State Board of Equalization (BOE), Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and Employment Development Department (EDD). The partnerships’ goal is to “sift out horrific situations of human slavery and trafficking by unscrupulous employers who engage in illegal tax evasion.”
The California Tax Agencies Human Trafficking Task Force initiative is “designed to increase communication between state tax agencies and streamline the sharing of information, resources and enforcement efforts.” The program includes training investigators from the three state tax agencies to recognize and report signs of human trafficking, in order to identify, arrest, and prosecute individuals who are involved in these heinous crimes. In addition, Senate Bill 1185 will provide a means for state and federal entities to work together to eradicate the underground economy.
Senate Bill 1185 would create the Centralized Intelligence Partnership (CIP), multiagency task force comprised of representatives from at least nine agencies, including the BOE, the Franchise Tax Board, Employment Development Department, as well as the Departments of Insurance, Justice, Health, Motor Vehicles, Consumer Affairs, and Industrial Relations [in a cooperative network to eradicate the underground economy]. (Refer to GovBuddy)
Human trafficking is directly tied to the State Board of Equalization because the victims work “under the table” and are taken advantage of by their employers. Furthermore, the employers avoid paying taxes. Crossing U.S boarders using interstate commerce like Federal Express and UPS for sale of items and people in the Underground Economy is a major detriment to the State of California’s economy. Organized criminals’ counterfeit goods and services, and it is estimated that $60 billion dollars per year is lost in market share revenue and 8 billion in unpaid taxes, said Horton.
Using the Board’s influence, California will tackle this problem on every front, coming together as one unit, to eradicate human trafficking and the underground economy.