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U.S. policy a paper tiger against sex trade in war zones

The report disputed allegations that the manager frequented brothels but concluded that he knew about activities "that could bring discredit upon both the company and the client." A letter of reprimand was placed in his file.

A difficult mandate

Justice Department prosecutors privately complain that the zero-tolerance policy is nearly unenforceable -- partly because it makes little distinction between organized sexual slavery and voluntary prostitution.

"Are we interested in chasing every contractor that gets a hooker or using our resources to go after the guys who force people into modern-day slavery?" asks one former trafficking investigator, who requested anonymity.

Laura Dickinson, an Arizona State University law professor, said law enforcement authorities face two main challenges in pursuing such crimes: gathering evidence and legal jurisdiction.

The FBI has 35 to 40 agents in war zones, but they are focused on investigating fraud and corruption. The military's law enforcement agencies have about 150 agents in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait handling all types of felony-level crimes.

Some experts say investigators and prosecutors will probably decline a trafficking case if it proves time-consuming and manpower-intensive.

Gordon, the former ArmorGroup manager, questioned whether agencies take the allegations seriously.

"If it's so serious," he said, "if you have a zero-tolerance policy, why aren't you doing anything?"

This report is a collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity and The Washington Post.

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