Commissioners declare January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month

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Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month at the first public Commissioners’ Meeting in 2023. The proclamation acknowledges the dedicated work of social service agencies, counselors, law enforcement, and modern-day abolitionists for caring for survivors, arresting and prosecuting offenders, and preventing new victims.

Also recognized in the proclamation are the Chester County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition, Thistle Hills, and JusticeRain, organizations that support survivors transitioning from exploitation and bondage to freedom and self-sufficiency.

The Commissioners said, “Proclaiming January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month and shining a blue light on the Historic Courthouse are reminders to us all to remain vigilant in protecting the most vulnerable in our community. Too often, they become victims of this atrocious crime and endure unfathomable injustices to their bodies and minds. It is our duty to raise awareness.”

Chester County Sheriff Fredda Maddox and Carol Metzker, community outreach for the Chester County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and an ally for human trafficking survivors, presented each Commissioner with a blue lapel pin to help spotlight the issue. Metzker told the Commissioners, “The little blue ribbon speaks out against a big issue – human trafficking. When our community rises to fight it, we put a stop to traffickers and the trauma that hurts all of us.”

“Working against human trafficking is everyone’s business in Chester County,” said Maddox. “If you encounter a situation that doesn’t feel right, report it to law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

Last year the CCSO hosted an educational program about human trafficking prevention. It also partnered with the Chester County Library system to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline numbers in library bathrooms throughout the county.

District Attorney Deb Ryan said, “In 2020, Chester County saw one of the worst cases ever of human trafficking involving two young victims who were held against their will and forced to have sex for money. Residents were shocked that it took place in their community. But that’s one of the tragic facts of human trafficking – how it seemingly happens under the radar and victimizes vulnerable individuals.

“My office got justice for both victims last year by sending the three defendants – Dimas Omar Hernandez, Franklin Rivera-Mendieta, and Josue Sibrian-Sanchez – to prison for lengthy periods of time. The victims’ lives are changed forever, but the sentences allow them to begin to move forward.

“Chester County will never stand for human trafficking. We will vigorously investigate, arrest, and prosecute anyone who traffics another human being and, by doing so, rescue victims.”

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is available 24/7. Call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.

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