International Human Trafficking and RICO
The United Nations estimates that every year between 2.5 and 4 million men, women and children are trafficked, around the world, for the purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation. Human Trafficking is said to be a $7 billion annual business globally.
A DOJ assessment in 2005 reported that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked across U.S. borders each year. Recent estimates report that number has climbed sharply and is still climbing.
International Human Trafficking is a multifaceted criminal activity involving sophisticated networks of international organized crime. Besides slave trading in human beings, it also involves criminal activities such as Mail and Wire Fraud, Internet Crime, Cybercrime, Visa Fraud, Extortion and Coercion, Drug Trafficking, Racketeering and Conspiracy.
Human trafficking is a sensitive area . . . of U.S. law and of U.S. society.
The principal mandate used in criminal prosecution of human trafficking has been the amended Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). Now there is a new hammer for U.S. prosecutors in the war against international human trafficking – the federal law entitled the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In essence, it provides a bigger “reach” for federal agencies going after alleged criminal activity.
Agencies such as the FBI, the DOJ, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are using the RICO statute more and more to prosecute alleged international human traffickers for tangible criminal activities. It allows for the prosecution of a defendant (or defendants) beyond the charge of alleged human trafficking. Criminal penalties can extend to severe civil penalties as well.
To provide a simplified example: While the federal government couldn’t prove charges of alleged murder against Al Capone, it did get him on tax evasion.
Having both federal and civil components, the “umbrella” effect of RICO has been far-reaching. From corrupt police departments to crime families, from Michael Milken to Major League Baseball, from the Hells Angels to pro-life activists . . . RICO has been enforced. In all cases, the punishments handed out have been severe, from long-term incarceration to monetary penalties sometimes adding up to three times the original damages assessed. And these sentences did not even approach the psychological and emotional tolls the defendants went through.
The Blanch Law Firm, with its staff of international criminal defense lawyers, knows well the ins and outs of RICO (as well as of FBAR and FinCen). Whether in New York, or Los Angeles and greater Southern California, our firm is well-equipped to handle the complexities of state and federal investigations and potential trials.
But we don’t stop here. Our obligation is to the client, first and foremost. Whether we are thoroughly investigating alleged facts produced by a federal agency, or providing support during moments of crisis, The Blanch Law Firm stands by its primary guideline of proven success: Our client is first.