Human trafficking awareness program in Toms River

Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase prepares to speak on human trafficking Jan. 23 in OCL's Toms River branch.

Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase prepares to speak on human trafficking Jan. 23 in OCL’s Toms River branch.

More than 70 people attended last night’s human trafficking awareness program led by Ocean County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase in the Toms River branch.

The program, one of two sponsored by the Barnegat Light Area branch and the Northern Ocean County branch of the American Association of University Women, discussed how people can recognize and report this modern form of slavery.

Human trafficking victims include men, women and children of all ages and ethnicity. There are two types of human trafficking: labor trafficking where people are forced to work for no pay, and sex trafficking.

New Jersey is a highly trafficked state, said DiBiase, because of the many interstate roads and entry points, such as airports, bus terminals, and shipping ports. It is also close to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Human trafficking in New Jersey is now a first degree crime with penalties that include jail time of 20 years to life. Anyone who aids in trafficking, including cab drivers and hotel workers, is guilty of a 2nd degree crime.

New Jersey has mandated that each county prosecutor’s office establish a human trafficking office. DiBaise is in charge of that responsibility and has met with all police chiefs in Ocean County.

Ocean County has already uncovered human trafficking incidents and the traffickers are being prosecuted.

DiBiase’s program included two video clips: a segment from the movie “Taken,” and an interview of a young teen who was abducted with her cousin and forced to prostitute themselves at different truck stops. They were rescued when one upstanding trucker notified police.

DiBiase said there are red flags that could identify a person who is a victim of human trafficking.

  • Limited to common work and living conditions.
  • Poor mental health or abnormal behavior
  • Poor physical health or signs of abuse
  • Lack of control over their physical possessions or identification
  • “Branded” by a trafficker , for example a tattoo of the trafficker’s name
  • Inability to identify where he or she is staying or to provide an address.

If a person suspects someone is a victim the NJ Office of the Attorney General urges he or she notify them at their special trafficking hotline: 855.END.NJ.HT (855-363-6548) or telephone their local police.

For more information visit the State’s website www.njhumantrafficking.gov .

(left to right) Patricia Baroska, past president of the Barnegat Light Area branch of the American Association of University Women, and Jane Meimayer, president of the Northern Ocean County branch, introduce Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase.

(left to right) Patricia Baroska, past president of the Barnegat Light Area branch of the American Association of University Women, and Jane Meimayer, president of the Northern Ocean County branch, introduce Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase.

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