Task Force Set Up To Fight Child Sexual Abuse, Trafficking In Frederick County

It consists of local, state and federal law enforcement and other agencies.

iNTERCEPT Task Force (Photo From Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office)

Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County has launched a new effort to combat the increase in child sexual abuse exploitation and human trafficking.   INTERCEPT, which stands for Inter-agency Child Exploitation and Person Trafficking, is an umbrella group, according to Joyce King, the Chief Council for the State’s Attorney’s Office. “That will encompass both HTRT {Human Trafficking Response Team} and the Cyber Crimes Task Force to co-locate here in Frederick,” she says. “So our federal, state and local investigators will be on site and be able to have more effective investigations and prosecutions.”

The Frederick County Human Trafficking Response Team, formed in 2018, and the Cyber Crimes Task Force, formed in 2019, play crucial roles in the discovery, apprehension and prosecution of human traffickers and internet sexual predators.   King says placing these two agencies under one roof would make them more effective.  “There were so many intersections between our investigations. And we realized it would be really beneficial to confine our forces and our teams for more effective prosecutions and investigations,” King continues.

The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office says it’s working with Operation Light Shine, a non-profit organization which creates funds,  to develops and provide  the INTERCEPT command center with technology, software, investigative equipment, forensic capabilities, advanced research, training and development and more.

The State’s Attorney’s Office says there’s been a ten-fold increase in child sexual abuse material and trafficking in Frederick County compared to a decade ago. King says a majority of children today have  cell phones and there’s been a lot of recruitment by “bad actors” on line  looking for kids to traffic. “At one time, it use to be recruiting in foster homes or strip clubs. And now we really see recruitment as 100 percent on line,” she says.

King also says a lot of human trafficking is conducted more so by local residents, not international cartels. “What we find with on line child exploitation is that there are local stateside predators that are victimizing our children here in Frederick as well as human trafficking,” she said. “A lot of the victims are here in Frederick being recruited or enticed by local bad actors.”

She also says parents should be cognizant of who their children are speaking with on line. “They may not be speaking with another teenager. Its’s likely that the other person on line might be an adult,:” she says.

And you need to be careful of the items your children may receive from those on line that they do not  know. It could be a way to recruit and entice them for human trafficking. . . “Predators beginning to purchase items, clothing, for these children. That’s some of the initial tell tale signs that there’s an initial benefit for them,”: says King.

She says if you suspect your children are getting mixed up in human trafficking, contact your local police.

By Kevin McManus