by Ester Yu
Last month, ZOE was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about federal and local efforts to combat human trafficking and the ongoing opioid epidemic. This meeting was hosted by Representative Steve Knight (R-CA) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and included local government officials, state legislators, law enforcement agencies, and representatives from local nonprofit organizations like ZOE.
Opioids is a significant problem in Santa Clarita Valley. In the roundtable meeting, it was discussed that there have been seven overdose deaths this year alone and that Santa Clarita is a “corridor” for drug and human trafficking. The Signal Santa Clarita Valley recently produced a series (https://vault.signalscv.com/addicted) documenting the local opioid crisis.
ZOE was able to suggest some action items related to human trafficking. We appreciate opportunities to learn from, network with, and share our knowledge and experience with those who are on the front-lines combating human trafficking through roundtable and task force meetings such as this one, the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (LARHTTF), a Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee, and others.
“Human trafficking and the opioid epidemic don’t just affect one region of the country or any specific demographic,” said Rep. Knight “These are national issues that hurt our neighbors in all of our communities. Chairman McCaul and the Homeland Security Committee have been extremely effective in pushing aggressive legislation that will help address many of these most pressing challenges. I want to thank him for his continued leadership and for making the trip out here to bring his expertise to these roundtable discussions.”
“Today’s events were very beneficial and a huge success,” said Chairman McCaul “In order to effectively fight human trafficking and the opioid epidemic, we need to coordinate local and federal law enforcement, engage private sector non-profits, and enact many of the bold policies we’ve been advancing in the House. Rep. Knight brings invaluable experience to these discussions from his career as a police officer and I’d like to thank him for hosting me in California’s 25th District.”