Child abductions, trafficking topic of conference

Assistant SMU Police Chief Jim Walters, Amber Alert liaison for training and technical assistance, talks about child abduction and trafficking at a conference in Laredo in mid-July 2013.

By César G. Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times

Abductions and trafficking of U.S. residents happen more often than people would think.

“The reality is the majority of juveniles that are trafficked in our country are trafficked domestically, meaning that they’re U.S. citizens or maybe they have dual citizenship in Mexico but they’re our children that somebody lures them in, or force them into being exploited or being used against their will,” said J.L. Walters, assistant chief of police at Southern Methodist University and Amber Alert liaison for training and technical assistance.

Walters stopped by at the Cross Border Child Abduction Training and Tabletop Exercise held this week at the state Sen. Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center at Texas A&M International University.

Walters works with the Southern Border Initiative, a Department of Justice program for child abductions, child exploitation and trafficking on the southern border of the United States.

“Human trafficking becomes a crime against the child when there’s some force or some coercion that is used,” Walters said, noting they are used for labor or domestic or sex jobs.

“We know in Mexico children are abducted to be used to produce pornography, to be used for sex slavery and things of that nature.”

Children who run away from home are the most at risk because they’re more subject to exploitation, he said.

In child abductions, time is law enforcement’s biggest enemy.

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