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Watson Proposes Human Trafficking Task Force

In October, three people were arrested and charged with human trafficking in the county. Council member Courtney Watson proposes the county form a task force to work on eliminating human trafficking in the county.

Human trafficking pamphlets at an information seminar in 2012. Credit: Elizabeth Janney
Human trafficking pamphlets at an information seminar in 2012. Credit: Elizabeth Janney
Howard County Council member Courtney Watson submitted legislation this week to form a task force to study human trafficking in the county.

"Due to our location along the I-95 corridor and proximity to BWI airport, Howard County is a prime location for this crime and in fact we have had four arrests since 2012," said Watson, in a statement. "We need to be aggressive in our efforts to make Howard County free of human trafficking."

In October, a man was charged with human trafficking after a woman told police in Sykesville he had forced her into prostitution for the past two years. In another incident that month, police charged a Rhode Island couple  arrested in Elkridge with kidnapping a 24-year-old woman and attempting to force her into prostitution.

The resolution will create a task force to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts, conduct community outreach, and form partnerships between law enforcement and other organizations, according to Watson.

“This criminal activity must be addressed by a variety of measures at all levels of government," said Tahira Mussarat Hussain a member of Howard County Advocacy Group Against Slavery and Trafficking (HoCo AGAST), in a statement.

A public hearing on the legislation is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City and a vote is expected at the Council's meeting on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Banneker Room.

Council members Calvin Ball, Jenn Terrasa and Mary Kay Sigaty are cosponsors of the legislation.

Watson said in a statement human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry in which victims rarely come froward for help due to fear of traffickers, language barriers and fear of law enforcement.

Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, is currently running against State Senator Allan Kittleman, a West Friendship Republican, for Howard County Executive in 2014.

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