July 3rd, 2012
03:34 PM ET

NY taxi drivers get sex trafficking lesson

New York City taxi drivers will soon not just be taking passengers around the city, they're being asked to help spot potential sex trafficking victims.

Under a new city law, drivers should be on the lookout for clues that a passenger is a victim of sex trafficking activity.

In a little under three months the law will kick into effect, and drivers will be required to alert authorities if they see suspicious situations in their cabs which may cause them to believe there is a trafficking victim in the backseat.

The city plans to run a training course for the drivers of taxis and private cars for hire. A video is planned to teach what to look for.

New York cabbies say they understand the value of the sex trafficking law but questioned enforcement. Driver Michael Dick said: "I don't know understand how they're going to enforce it. They don't even enforce the honking law which is a lot easier."

There are few recorded incidents of sex trafficking involving New York cabs but Dorchen Leidholdt, of Sanctuary for Families, an anti-sex trafficking group, says the use of drivers is increasing in the trafficking industry.

Leidholdt said it's a big problem around the world. "We're seeing drivers as an integral part of the sex trafficking industry," she said.

She added: "Sex trafficking is a huge problem in New York, and FBI has identified New York City as a major destination of trafficking victims, but the victims aren't only arriving at our airports, they're also in our inner cities, in our rural areas. We're learning more and more that the vast majority of sex trafficking victims are girls and young women, and sometimes boys, who are born here, who fall under the control of pimps…

"Our trafficking victim clients are telling us over and over again, "I was under a control of a trafficker, but my trafficker was working closely with a driver, who was taking me from buyer to buyer, or picking me up from the street, when I was vulnerable and taking me to a brothel." So, they're working very close together. It's a big problem, actually not only here in New York city and around New York state, but around the world. We're seeing drivers as an integral part of a sex trafficking industry.

"We're hoping that they're gonna become an important arm of law enforcement, because they're in a key position to identify trafficking at the very beginning. But the chief responsibility is you cannot serve as a pimp, you cannot deliberately profit from the commercial sex, sexual exploitation of another human being. That is a crime, you're gonna be held accountable, you're gonna lose your license, you are going to face felony level charges."

Advocacy groups for victims report in some places 'brothels on wheels' are created as drivers are employed to avoid increasing police raids on home where victims are kept.

Opponents said the law unfairly targets cab drivers. One taxi driver accused the backers of practicing 'sexual McCarthyism"

But supporters of the measure also made sure the new law did not include language that would target sex workers or leave room for drivers to question women dressed in a risque manner who are believed to appear involved in illegal sexual activity

A driver convicted of sexual trafficking will lose his license and face a $10,000 fine.

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Topics: In The News • Uncategorized

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Really?

    Did some politician just watch the movie Taxi Driver and get this idea?

    July 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Reply
    • Ralph M

      Considering the scourge we are up against, that's a pretty crass ignorant reply.
      The public should be aware of a LOT of things more than they are.

      July 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
    • Johnboy

      What makes them think any taxi driver is going to put him/herself at risk by turning in people they have to pick up off the street? I hardly think that's a reasonable thing to ask someone to do.

      July 23, 2012 at 7:37 am | Reply
      • Xira

        The problem is not that the cops are providing information to the cabbies, or giving them a hotline, but that it's mandatory with a typically draconian punishment.

        The police state can't afford more police, so they are making it mandatory for citizens to be police.

        And our freedom dies just a little bit more with every law on the books that requires us to 'do something' in a specfic set of situations.

        In 10 years, when the law isn't being enforced so much, it will still be there. Ready to ensnare anyone who runs across a bad-cop-day.

        September 7, 2012 at 4:10 am |
      • Xira

        We already have over a million laws.

        You realize that you pick your felonies walking down the street, right? Everyone's guilty of something. Even you.

        This is just another example of the draconian authoritarian police state.

        September 7, 2012 at 4:12 am |
  2. folly

    A good law on paper, but will never work in a significant way. There need to be cash incentives, then maybe!

    July 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Zach Bundy

      really? you would make a policy that gave money to women for NOT BEING RAPED?

      Or even better: you would find these sickos, not arrest them, and then give them money?

      You've got my vote!

      July 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Reply
      • julie

        Reward money to cab drivers who blow the whistle on fares, not the women or traffickers, idiot.

        July 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
      • TJ

        Ditto to Julie's comment. You're and idiot.

        July 30, 2012 at 5:51 am |
  3. Frogz

    When I went down to mexico a few years ago the cabbie gave me a flyer for a brothel with pictures of nude women on it. Needless to say I had a nice long visit.

    July 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • KJM

      Yeah sounds more like a std fest to me. I'd hate to be lucky number 23. ewwwww.....

      July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Reply
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        September 12, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  4. vocalvarieties

    So the victims say the drivers were in on it – but now they're going to report it? Sounds more like the drivers will be able to tell the traffickers what to watch out for..

    July 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  5. Mike

    Can someone please tell me why it is illegal to pay a woman for $ex but perfectly legal to pay a woman for $ex if its in front of a camera?

    July 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  6. larry5

    Bad idea. Cab drivers are visible targets. They need to remain neutral ground to survive and do their job. Let a peace officer with a gun, the training and especially the backup take the lead here, not an exposed unprotected cab driver.

    July 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • ssid


      August 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  7. Bob

    Ummmm taxis know where you can your "whistle wet"

    July 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  8. MuppetAntwerp

    Shouldn't they chase smokers and coladrinkers first ? Is Bloomberg missing the essentials ? Has he missed his prozac in the morning ? NY is in great danger.

    July 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  9. observer

    Travis bickle unavailable for comment.

    July 3, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  10. Lewster

    How many American born cab drivers are there in NYC. Why should foreign born cab drivers care about human trafficking?

    July 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • Bobby

      Exactly, why should they don't care about trafficking, seems silly to me.

      July 4, 2012 at 12:55 am | Reply
    • himanshu

      im sure 1/2 of them are illegal immigrants ......

      July 4, 2012 at 4:38 am | Reply
      • karefulkay

        I am sure 100% of you is racist...

        July 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  11. Exco Leong

    I miss the little cute one down 45th Avenue from last summer. cheap and cuddly too.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply
    • himanshu

      nice even i was looking for her....

      July 4, 2012 at 4:39 am | Reply
    • Joseph

      From where you removed that thing? I have same peorlbm on both my blogs, and I'm afraid it comes from that Top commentator plugin. I tried remove ul's from sidebar but it didnt help me In IE6 blog looks ok, but when go to single post sidebar appears under comments

      December 21, 2012 at 5:04 am | Reply
  12. Lazarus_Rising

    Does that mean that Paris Hilton will never be able to hire a cab off the street?

    July 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  13. octopus

    That's called trying to make impression of doing something while implementing measures that are total nonsense.

    July 4, 2012 at 12:18 am | Reply
  14. richie

    souldn't they be taught English first?

    July 4, 2012 at 1:55 am | Reply
  15. magneticink

    What? No Badge or Glock?

    July 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  16. Blinky

    So now the Taxi Drivers are doing the work of the police. They should concentrate on transporting people back and fortch safely, not playing a game of supercop.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:37 am | Reply
  17. Stephen De Luca

    Rescue & Restore already provides this type of information to social service workers, health care workers, and law enforcement to aid them in identifying potential victims of human trafficking. It's not asking them or taxi drivers to do the job of the police; instead, they're to call the hotline (888-3737-888) to help them determine if the person might be a victim, and to report to law enforcement. One of the biggest problems we face in trying to help victims is victim identification, so it's important that everyone who might encounter a potential victim know how to ID one and then know what to do to help them. In fact, I know of ordinary citizens who happened to notice something unusual that tipped them off that a person might be a victim, that resulted in getting the victim help. And we should be concerned with whether a person might be a victim regardless of whether they are foreign or American, and regardless of whether the taxi driver or anyone else who IDs them is foreign or American. Here's information in a variety of languages on how to identify potential victims and what to do: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/about/posters.html.

    July 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • John Lee

      Why are you such a loser?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
      • Amber

        Why ae you such a PEDO???

        July 31, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Xira

      The problem is not that there is a hotline and they are being provided with information.

      It's that it's mandatory, and we just lost a little bit of the freedom our country USED to stand for.

      September 7, 2012 at 4:07 am | Reply
  18. Stephen De Luca

    Anybody found to be aiding and abetting in the trafficking of persons should be prosecuted. There are taxi drivers who are aware of what's going on and are afraid to talk about it because they're exposed to risk every day. They need protections, too. But, if taxi drivers agree to serve pimps and others who are trafficking these victims by providing them with means to get them around the city and evade being caught by the police, they should be held criminally responsible, too.

    July 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  19. whycare

    why taxi driver take a risk of getting shot. as long as he makes some money and go home with out trouble or getting beat up or rubbed...etc he doesnt give a f*&^ about trafficking.

    July 5, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  20. 2012marandalaw

    Reblogged this on Marinchek-Marn.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:46 am | Reply
  21. adam

    We are able to pinpoint a problem across the ocean in another country a year or so before it happens, but we need the Taxi drivers to help us pinpoint this little problem in our own backyard. This is very sad...

    July 9, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
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    July 12, 2012 at 7:43 am | Reply
  23. Leslie T. Lox

    The guys at CNN are to be commended.
    My point is that slavery is much more blatant and acute than we think.
    So much so, it's purveyors or slave masters sometimes actually speak of how many slaves (people) they own right out in public. The average person doesn't have a clue as to what they're talking about.
    The people I refer to exploit these slaves for their value and profit producing labor and their sacrifical value. Picture an auction block where slaves are put on display and sold for money. That is the atmosphere these people create with some physical variations and that is how blatant it is. :When they finish sucking everything of significance out of them they have them drink of the hemlock and "take them" completely.
    These are not pimps. Here the pimps look like good guys believe it or not. These gents are legitimizing this terrible trade and have the appearance and cover of upright citizens. You would be flabbergasted if you knew their venue. The problem is that because of the increased publicity they are slowing down forcing us to be diligent and dig deeper. Imagine what this can do to a culture and others it comes into contact with.
    Les on http://www.rdwins.com

    July 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
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  28. bikerlarry

    Seems to me the justice department is at fault here. Like child molesters, drug dealers and gang bangers, the pimps should be hung or get a bullet in the back of their heads no less than 5 minutes after being found guilty. Might take a couple of years, but the streets would be cleaned of this garbage.
    This catch and release system of justice isn't working.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  29. soican

    Just put policemen in all taxis. They can check for drugs and make sure you do not have over a 16 oz pop or search women with new babies and make sure they are not carrying formula and......

    August 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  30. Jack

    They are just care about the money ~ With money, they will take you where ever you want to go ~ A law is just make sure they will have a higher paid ~ Probably they will just get a Kechara Protecion Chakras to pray so they will not get caught when they are "working" ~

    August 7, 2012 at 8:51 am | Reply
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    August 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply
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    Only in a fascist police state are you 'required' to report people who are willing 'victims' to the police.

    September 7, 2012 at 4:05 am | Reply
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