Nine illegal aliens arrested in north Alabama in possible human trafficking racket
Law enforcement officers in DeKalb County this week arrested nine men, all reportedly illegal aliens, in connection with what they suspect is a human trafficking operation.
WAFF reported a DeKalb County patrol sergeant and K-9 deputy conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle from Texas late Tuesday night.
Upon further investigation, authorities reportedly determined that the suspects were in the United States illegally and were involved in a human trafficking operation.
Department of Homeland Security investigators were called, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers were placed on the suspects.
An investigation is still ongoing, but the office said it appears two of the men were traffickers.
However, there is debate over whether human “trafficking” or “smuggling” was occurring in this case.
David Pinkleton with the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force explained that there is an crucial difference between trafficking and smuggling.
“When you think about the human trafficking it’s exploitation based,” he said. “You think about the sex trafficking, you think about the labor trafficking. There’s some forced fraud or coercion that’s actually involved.”
Smuggling would simply be the illegal act of getting these individuals into the United States covertly.
“[The] [s]muggling side is actually transportation-based,” Pinkleton advised.
Per WHNT, DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden released a statement on the arrests.
“This [was] a great bust on I-59,” the sheriff emphasized.
Welden said, “Due to the highways and interstates intersecting our county, it’s highly likely that human trafficking as well as illegal narcotics regularly move through. We have an opportunity to do our part as a department and help curb this illegal activity. Pro-active law enforcement can not only build a better county, but also help clean up our country. I’d like to commend these deputies on their dedication to this.”
Federal charges are pending, and the nine men are all in ICE custody.
The incident came right before the Alabama House passed three anti-human trafficking bills this week: HBs 261, 262 and 264.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn