Human trafficking rare but worrisome in New England

Posted April 24, 2011, at 10:02 a.m.
Last modified April 24, 2011, at 3:06 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Human trafficking charges, such as those brought this month against a United Arab Emirates colonel in Rhode Island, are rare in New England but reflect a growing problem nationally.

Bruce M. Foucart is a special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New England. He says he has seen four or five cases since his arrival in 2006. Still, he says trafficking is an ICE priority in the region.

He says nationwide ICE investigations like the one into Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali are ever more common. Foucart wouldn’t speak about Al-Ali, but he says ICE launched 651 human trafficking investigations last year, more than twice the number in 2006.

Al-Ali has pleaded not guilty to charges he kept an unpaid servant while attending a U.S. Navy-run graduate school in Newport.