By Hyun Soo Suh, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and heads of various U.S. government departments made clear Thursday that preventing human trafficking is a priority of the Obama administration.
The 27 million men, women and children victims of human trafficking are an "affront to our most fundamental values," Clinton said at the annual meeting at the White House of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Clinton chaired the meeting of the task force, which is a Cabinet-level unit that coordinates federal efforts.
Those in attendance - including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper - highlighted recent successes and the new collaborative efforts to combat human trafficking around the world and on the domestic front.
"For us at the national security staff, this is a national security issue," said Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. "... Human trafficking is at the nexus of organized crime, is a source for funding for international terrorist groups, (and) is a source for funding for transnational terrorist groups. It fundamentally endangers international security."
To reflect the high priority assigned by the administration to reducing human trafficking, the Office of Management and Budget's Jeffrey Zients assured attendees that the relevant departments will receive necessary funding to support their programs.
"We will make sure that adequate resources are allocated" to combat human trafficking, Zients said.
Noting the difficult budget environment, he said it is the budget office's job to make certain that "every dollar is well spent (and the) most important priorities of the president are well-funded. Preventing human trafficking is clearly a priority," he said.
Holder said the programs are showing results. "Our work has sent a clear and critical message: that, in this country and under this administration, human trafficking crimes will simply not be tolerated," he said.
"I'm proud to report that, this past year, we charged nearly 120 defendants - a record number - in human trafficking cases. And, over the last three years, we've achieved significant increases in human trafficking prosecutions, including a rise of more than 30 percent in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions."
Holder emphasized the need for increased international cooperation, and provided an example of successful U.S.-Mexico operations to combat human trafficking across the border.
"Over the last year, by working with Mexican law enforcement partners," he said, "we dismantled sex trafficking networks operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and have brought freedom to the victims and secured landmark convictions and substantial sentences against the traffickers in these high-impact bilateral cases."
McDonough articulated the need for more intelligence regarding cases of human trafficking.
"Let me emphasize, when it comes to trafficking, one thing that we do know is that we ... don't know enough," he said. "... In his statement today, the president spoke of trafficking as form of exploitation that hides both in the dark corners of our world and in plain sight in our own towns and cities. We know in certain areas we don't have great data on the scope of the problem."
Clinton was particularly enthusiastic about a new, free online tool, Slavery Footprint, which allows anyone to see how human trafficking touches their everyday lives.
Slavery Footprint is a "kind of innovation that is helping to create awareness of this crime," reported Under Secretary María Otero, head of the Office of Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. "... Three million people have logged on this website."
Holder noted that while the recent achievements have been successful, there is more to be done to fight human trafficking.
"I think we can all be encouraged by our recent achievements in the fight against human trafficking, but I think we would all agree that we have still more to do and that far too many people remain in desperate need for the help that we can provide," he said.