By DSS Special Agent Joshua Vincent
As Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) professionals serving in consular sections worldwide, the special agents, investigative assistants, and criminal fraud investigators are uniquely situated to provide lifesaving assistance to Americans overseas.
This was demonstrated earlier this year at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, when a Marine Security Guard (MSG) received a call from an American who was concerned that a friend was being held against their will. While maintaining communications with the caller, the MSG contacted DSS special agents and criminal investigators in the embassy’s regional security office, who coordinated a response. The MSG’s quick action and ensuing embassy section coordination secured the release of two human trafficking victims in a matter of hours.
Rescuing the human trafficking victims was not easy. The Romanian National Police needed the location of the victims and enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. Fortunately, the DSS team received screens shots of text messages from the victim’s friend identifying the victim’s location and circumstances. DSS shared the evidence with the Romanian Police who obtained an arrest warrant and conducted searches alongside DSS personnel. After an exhaustive search, they recovered the American woman and one other woman being held against their will.
DSS worked with consular colleagues at the U.S. embassy to ensure that the American citizen received shelter, legal assistance, and food vouchers from a local non-government organization (NGO) specializing in helping human trafficking victims. Members of the DSS team accompanied the victim to the local prosecutor’s office to make a statement against the perpetrators. The victim-centric response employed by criminal investigators in Bucharest is emblematic of how DSS supports human trafficking victims around the world.
“I commend the quick action and teamwork exhibited by the embassy’s diplomatic security and consular staff with our Romanian National Police and local NGO partners that led to the safe return of two women being held against their will,” said Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Shane Dixon. “The president’s National Action Plan identifies DSS as an integral partner in combating human trafficking, and this recent rescue is a great example why.”