In his phenomenal article for ANIMAL New York, Paul Hiebert questioned whether New York City is the number one destination for sex trafficking. He reported that “researchers estimated that at least 12,874 people have been trafficked in the New York City metropolitan area between 2000 and the time of the study’s publication, with roughly 80% of them used for sex.” One of the sex trafficking victims he interviewed reported to be “driven in a livery cab from house to house, seeing man after man.”

New York City Council members decided to confront this issue, and passed legislation on Wednesday that would crack down on cabdrivers who shuttle victims back and forth.

In a news conference on Wednesday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said “We are recognizing … the unconscionable and cruel role that taxi drivers and livery drivers are playing in this brutal attack, that keeps people trapped (and) takes their lives away from them.”

The Times reported on a livery-cab driver led trafficking ring that was broken up in April. “The women, whom the operation’s leaders tattooed with their street names and a bar code, were allowed to keep a few dollars each night to buy food and other necessities, according to prosecutors.”

One woman who testified “before a joint hearing of the City Council’s Transportation and Women’s Issues Committees in December estimated that she had worked with 70 drivers who had brought her to 5,000 clients.”

The new legislation would fine city taxi and livery drivers up to $10,000. If convicted of a sex trafficking felony, they would also lose their New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission license.

Quinn also announced that about 4,000 minors are trafficked into the United States arrive on planes. To combat this, the City Council announced “a partnership with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines aimed at tracking sex trafficking on airplanes and in airports.”

(Image: Instant Vantage/Flickr)