Tester to FBI: Assign Full-Time Agents to Both Human Trafficking and Indian Country in Montana

FBI received more than $161 million in additional funding for detection, investigation, and prosecution in fiscal year 2019

U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a letter last week to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray expressing deep concern over the FBI’s decision to reassign the only Montana agent focused on human trafficking.

“I write to express my concerns about the reassignment of the only Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent dedicated to investigating and preventing human trafficking in Montana,” Tester said. “While I fully support and advocate for additional resources for Indian Country, I do not believe this move is appropriate. Instead, I urge the FBI to reassign a full-time agent to human trafficking cases and an additional full-time agent to focus on crime in Indian Country in Montana.”

Tester added, “Splitting an agent’s time between two major law enforcement priorities hinders their ability to fully deliver on either.”

The FBI recently reassigned the only Montana agent assigned to investigate human trafficking to split his time between trafficking and cases involving Indian Country, despite a $161 million increase in funding for detection, investigation, and prosecution of crimes in Fiscal Year 2019. This raised concerns among Montanans that the move could hinder attempts to both combat human trafficking and reduce crime in Indian Country.

Tester has been a leader in the fights to combat human trafficking and end the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis. Last year, he helped pass legislation to bring down barriers that kept law enforcement from arresting and prosecuting criminals who promote sex trafficking online. Tester also introduced bipartisan legislation to help Tribes, law enforcement, and the federal government better collaborate on preventing violence against women in Indian Country.

As a former Chairman and senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has taken a three-pronged approach to combating the MMIW crisis by raising awareness, empowering tribes and finding solutions.

The full text of Tester’s letter can be found HERE.