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Northampton County DA Announces New Task Force to Combat Human Trafficking, Child Exploitation | WDIY Local News

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Northampton County’s district attorney has announced the creation of a new task force to help combat human trafficking and child exploitation.

DA Terence Houck said Monday that the Northampton County Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force is being implemented, effective immediately.

According to a release, the group will be used to identify and apprehend adults soliciting sex from minors, particularly individuals using the internet to meet minors for sexual activity.

It will also work to identify and detain buyers soliciting sex from adult sex workers.

The release said the operation's primary goal is to "aggressively combat human trafficking by identifying, investigating, and prosecuting offenders and organizations involved in trafficking innocent individuals."

The task force’s law enforcement partners include Homeland Security Investigations, the district attorney office’s detective division, and regional police departments from Easton, Bethlehem Township, Forks Township, Palmer Township, Bushkill Township, and Wilson Borough.

These groups will proactively conduct criminal investigations into allegations of human trafficking and crimes against children to determine if, and when, a crime has occurred.

The task force will also work with the United States Attorney’s Office and the district attorney’s office as legal partners to help assess cases, and determine whether to pursue them on a federal or state level.

The release said the group will connect victims with the necessary services in a trauma-informed manner and provide them with legal and social resources.

In a statement, Houck said human trafficking is more prevalent in the region than some may realize.

His office made note of the Lehigh Valley’s location between Philadelphia and New York, as well as its high volume of highways and hotels. It stated that the valley “has become a potential hub for human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.”

The new operation is the second task force initiative the Northampton County district attorney’s office has launched this year.

In January, Houck announced the formation of the county’s first Major Crimes Task Force, which focuses on investigations involving homicides, gun violence, gang activity and other complex crimes.

(Original air-date: 3/7/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director.
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