Aiken County Sheriff's Office building

A week long training seminar hosted by law enforcement in Aiken County helped train investigators from Ghana combat human trafficking.

Aiken County hosted a week long training exercise aimed to help law enforcement in Ghana combat human trafficking.

From Monday to Friday, a multi-agency coalition hosted five Ghanaian investigators and a Ghanaian attorney with the International Justice Mission to assist and provide critical training opportunities as well as forming an international criminal justice partnership.

The International Justice Mission is an international, non-governmental 501 organization that focuses on human rights and law enforcement according to the organization's website. 

The organization works to protect the poor from violence in a variety of areas across the world, said Steve Miano, director of investigations and law enforcement development for IJM's office in Ghana. 

Law enforcement officers with the ATF RAGE Unit, Aiken Department of Public Safety, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, North Augusta Department of Public Safety, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the Second Circuit Solicitor’s Office presented foundational and scenario based training to further assist IJM’s mission in combating all forms of human trafficking present in Ghana and around the world.

"It's all about helping one another to be able to take care of our citizens within our communities," Captain Eric Abdullah with the sheriff's office said. "When you bring in federal partners as well as an international agency reaching across the ocean, that just shows that Aiken and Richmond County are just a hub of what it means to have partnerships and look out for the best interest of now the world and not just our own community." 

Miano was an employee with the Aiken Department of Public Safety and served on Aiken's ATF task force, leading him to ask the area's law enforcement if they would be interested in hosting the training session.  

Training included clandestine methods, surveillance, interviews and interrogation, criminal law procedures, case analysis, rules of evidence and trial preparation.

Many community organizations, including Cedar Creek Church, Breezy Hill Baptist Church, Child Advocacy Center and the USC Aiken, came forward with facilities, food and additional support.

As the session came to a close Friday, Miano expressed gratitude for Aiken County law enforcement's training and believes the impact of this session would benefit the officers from Ghana for years to come. 

"It continues to go on and on because kids are going to be freed out of slavery because of the months and months of planning that went into this," Miano said. "It will continue for years to come."

Matthew Enfinger is the crime and courts reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_enfinger