Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $337,500 to the American Samoa Government Office of Territorial and International Criminal Intelligence and Drug Enforcement (OTICIDE) to develop a Territorial Human Trafficking Task Force Program.
“I am pleased to report that the DOJ has granted these funds to assist American Samoa in combating the growing international problem of human trafficking,” Faleomavaega said. “I am also convinced that Mike Sala, OTICIDE’s Director, with his wealth of experience in international law enforcement, will be able to use these funds to develop a strong human trafficking task force here in American Samoa.”
Michael Sala serves as Executive Director of the South Pacific Islands Criminal Intelligence Network (SPICIN), the intelligence arm of the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference (SPCPC) organization comprising 21 countries in the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand. As deputy commissioner and director of the Office of Territorial and International Criminal Intelligence and Drug Enforcement (OTICIDE), he heads the INTERPOL Pacific Sub-Bureau comprised of American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan) under the United States Department of Justice, National Central Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Governor Togiola Tulafono reorganized OTICIDE by Executive Order No. 4-2004 as the leading investigative agency for illegal drug and human trafficking, in response to the rapid increase in drug and human trafficking activity in the Pacific region. One mission of OTICIDE is to investigate and coordinate the flow of criminal information with federal, state, territorial regional and international law enforcement agencies, including intelligence sharing and training.
The goals of the human trafficking task force program funded by the federal grant will be to increase the: 1) identification of trafficking victims through the development of proactive law enforcement tactics; 2) rescue of trafficking victims and provision of needed services; and 3) successful prosecution of human traffickers.
As the grant award release by DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs explains, the grantee will accomplish one or more of the following: 1) development of a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional task force to combat human trafficking, involving federal, state, local law enforcement and agencies with responsibilities regarding victims of trafficking; 2) development or enhancement of training materials and workshops for first responding officers and investigators to improve the identification of human trafficking victims; 3) development of written protocols and resource manuals that enhance coordination and information/resource sharing among law enforcement and victim service providers; 4) development of specific, distinct protocols for resource referral and service provisions for U. S. victims of human trafficking versus alien victims of trafficking; and 5) development of materials to increase public awareness and enhance the identification of trafficking victims.
“I want to thank Mr. Sala for his tremendous efforts in ensuring that this funding was secured for American Samoa. He flew here personally to meet with DOJ officials to convince them to release these funds. I commend him for his dedication to law enforcement and to the people of American Samoa,” Faleomavaega concluded.
Photo: Faleomavaega and Mike Sala meeting in Washington, DC.