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Department of Justice awards funding to combat human trafficking in southeastern Massachusetts

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BROCKTON – The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs has awarded the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office and health and trauma services agency Health Imperatives $1.5 million in funding to bolster efforts to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases and get victims vital services.

On September 21, the Office for Victims of Crime awarded more than $97.4 million to state, local and tribal jurisdictions, service providers and task forces all over the country. OJP’s National Institute of Justice awarded the remaining $3.5 million to support research and evaluation on human trafficking. The Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office (PCDAO) and Health Imperatives were each awarded $750,000 as part of the grant. Health Imperatives is a non-profit, community-based organization headquartered in Brockton, that address the health and safety needs of low-income, vulnerable individuals and families in Southeastern Massachusetts.

“My office continues to aggressively prosecute those who manipulate, abuse, and sell human beings for profit,” DA Cruz said. “At the same time, we work just as hard to provide access to trauma sensitive services to help victims recover and return to a healthy and safe life. We are grateful to the Department of Justice for once again funding our innovative initiatives here in Plymouth County, and we believe our strong partnerships, with agencies like Health Imperatives, puts us in the best position to receive these funding opportunities. Over the 19 years that I have been District Attorney, we have successfully implemented federally funded projects like Project Safe Neighborhoods, Drug Free Communities, and our Drug-Exposed Children’s Initiative, and I look forward to working with Health Imperatives, and our law enforcement partners, to further our success in addressing human trafficking.”

Julia Kehoe, President and CEO of Health Imperatives said, “We are honored to partner with the Plymouth Country District Attorney’s Office to create a collaborative task force to address human trafficking. We are seeing increasing numbers of human trafficking victims across our programs and services. This grant allows us to put a spotlight on this critically important issue and work together with the District Attorney’s office to identify strategies that will increase awareness of human trafficking in our community and deliver much-needed services to victims.”

According to Cruz, human Trafficking is one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the United States and is a pervasive issue in Massachusetts, the last state to implement human trafficking legislation. While the law has brought much needed publicity and a sense of urgency to the issue, communities continue to struggle with a lack of resources and training on trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and victim services.

The PCDAO and Health Imperatives were the only grant recipients in Massachusetts of the 30 awarded agencies and programs from 11 states, according to the PCDAO.

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