House passes McAdams bill seeking to slow human trafficking

(Rick Bowmer | AP file photo) Utah Rep. Ben McAdams speaks during a news conference on Dec. 16, 2019, in Murray, Utah.

The U.S. House passed on Monday a bill by Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, that would order a federal study on how to better attack and prevent human trafficking.

The House passed by voice vote the Stopping Trafficking, Illicit Flows, Laundering and Exploitation (STIFLE) Act, and sent it to the Senate. The House also previously attached it to the annual defense bill. Differing versions of that defense bill must still be reconciled between the House and Senate.

“Illegal trafficking, particularly human trafficking, leaves devastation in its wake,” McAdams said. “This bill stops those who use ‘dark markets’ to finance and hide their activities and profits. We need to identify, disrupt and prosecute these financial networks to stop these abhorrent crimes.”

The bill would order the General Accountability Office to work with federal agencies to study and report to Congress on such things as:

• Major routes for human trafficking.

• Methods used to launder and move the proceeds of trafficking.

• Types of suspicious financial activity associated with trafficking, and how federal agencies and financial institutions can better identify and report it.

• What steps financial institutions now are taking to identify money laundering associated with trafficking.

• Roles that emerging technologies can play both to find or enable trafficking.

“We must investigate and stop traffickers, using any means necessary,” McAdams said. “This bill provides law enforcement with better tools to identify traffickers and infiltrate their financial networks in order to stop the repugnant acts and protect victims.”

Burgess Owens, the Republican nominee running against McAdams, also has made stopping human trafficking one of his top issues, and has issued tweets repeatedly about it.