In February of 2004, the Austin Police Department implemented the IPT (Immigrant Protection) Unit to help combat the crime of human trafficking since many of the victims of human trafficking are immigrants. The IPT was attached to the APD Robbery Unit and assisted with robberies involving immigrant victims as well as addressing cases of fraud and scam affecting the immigrant community.
In October 2004, the Austin Police Department applied for and received a federal grant to help combat human trafficking. The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the three year grant in December 2004. The grant was one of ten awarded nationwide that provided funding for ten task forces under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
In 2007, the unit's name and mission was changed to focus on their true and only purpose - to investigate and find victims of human trafficking - both immigrants and domestic U.S. citizens.
There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of human trafficking, including:
* A promise of a good job in another country
* A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
* Being kidnapped by traffickers
As you go about your daily activities we encourage you to "look beneath the surface" and watch for indicators of modern-day slavery such as the following: Evidence of being controlled, Inability to move or leave a job, Bruises or other signs of physical abuse, No passport or other identification documents, Recent arrival to the U.S. , Unaware of what city or state they are in, Strong sense of fear or distrust.
Victims of trafficking may look like many of the people you see and interact with every day.
In addition to the physical violence and threats of violence against themselves, victims also face the threat of having their family members harmed or murdered by the traffickers if they try to run away or tell anyone about their situation. This creates extreme fear and psychological bondage that keeps them enslaved.