Human trafficking is reported to be a serious problem in Alaska. The term “human trafficking” means any form of coercion, force or deception that leads to someone being exploited for their labor, sexual services or adult entertainment.
If you have been accused or charged with human trafficking, you are facing very tough penalties if convicted. Human trafficking in Alaska is a Class A felony and can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. If you believe that you are innocent, or evidence against you is false or has been misrepresented, you should seek representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
The case against human trafficking in Alaska
Typical industries that human traffickers target in Alaska, according to a report by the state’s Attorney general, include work in agriculture, hotels, restaurants, domestic service, sweatshops and massage parlors. Sex trafficking in the state involves commercial sex services, including pornography and prostitution.
Many of the people targeted by human traffickers are apparently some of the most vulnerable people in the community; the homeless, abused young persons, those dependent on drugs and drink, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. A study in 2017 by a team from Loyola University in New Orleans compared the link between human trafficking and homelessness in 10 North American cities including Anchorage, L.A., Atlanta, Toronto and Oakland. Their research centered on young homeless people cared for by Covenant House in each of the 10 cities. 8 percent overall had been trafficked for labor and 14 percent for sex. Disturbingly, Anchorage came out of the survey with the highest trafficking rates at its own Covenant House. 20% of young males and 25% of young females reported being victims of sex trafficking.
Human trafficking does not necessarily mean that its victims have been smuggled in from somewhere else. They can be ‘trafficked’ in the same village, town or city. In Alaska, it seems that a disproportionately large number of trafficking victims are young, indigenous people. Anchorage tends to be a hub for people from remote rural parts of the state which is perhaps one reason why the city has such a high trafficking rate. Similar rates of human trafficking have been reported in other parts around the Arctic, including Canada and Russia, again predominantly involving the trafficking of indigenous people.
Another possible reason that has been touted as a reason why so many Native Alaskans are targeted by traffickers is that law enforcement in many remote villages is next to non-existent. The lack of effective monitoring and policing of unlawful behavior together with existing levels of economic and social disadvantage makes these communities fertile grounds for traffickers who lure impressionable young people to places like Anchorage on false pretenses.
What makes cases of human trafficking hard to identify, apparently, is that many victims don’t actually realize that they have been trafficked. They may blame themselves for the situation they have found themselves to be in.
Human trafficking is receiving both state and federal attention as a serious issue in Alaska and especially Anchorage. That means that prosecutors are keen to pursue cases of alleged criminal activity by people suspected of involvement in trafficking. Because of the high profile nature of the crime, don’t expect any leniency if you have been accused of human trafficking in Alaska. The main lines of defense against a charge of human trafficking are that your involvement in any criminal activity has been mistaken (mistaken identity or false representation) or that you were not involved in any coercion or deception in connection with alleged victims.
Human trafficking is a particularly heinous crime with matching penalties, but you are entitled to be presumed innocent unless there is sufficient evidence against you to prove that you were guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at 907-276-8008 for effective and experienced representation.