NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -A multi-agency unit will work to stop and prosecute human traffickers across New Orleans. It’s called the S.A.L.T. Unit.
“It’s an acronym for sex and labor trafficking unit. It’s a response by this office to address some of the human trafficking especially involving juveniles who are brought into this area,” says D.A. Leon Cannizzaro.
Orleans D.A. Leon Cannizzaro says young girls and women are being forced to work in prostitution rings, mostly in the French Quarter and New Orleans East.
“We find that there are a number of these young victims usually between the ages of 12 and 14, primarily females,” says Cannizzaro.
“Over the course of the 13 years, we’ve seen over 290 trafficking victims come into our care here at the Covenant House,” says Jim Kelly.
Jim Kelly of the Covenant House says attacking the problem is something that’s needed and the victims should receive justice for what’s happened to them.
“And we will be working very closely with other law enforcement agencies particularly the FBI, State Police, The New Orleans Police Department and the Orleans Sheriff’s Office,” says Cannizzaro.
“Trafficking cases are tough, and I think the DA gets that. I mean they are not normal cases. You’re dealing with the buying and selling of a human being,” says Kelly.
Kelly points out victims are often scared and hurt. They aren’t always willing to cooperate with investigators.
“So, from our prospective, our hope is that we are able to work with them and concentrate our efforts on them,” says Cannizzaro.
He says they goal is to stop the traffickers before they hurt anyone else.