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Published On: Sat, Feb 14th, 2015

Recent Human Trafficking Arrests Bring Issue to Forefront

When looked at by outsiders, the problem of human trafficking can seem like a foreign or international issue. Most believe it couldn’t possibly take place domestically – at least not in large numbers. However, recent arrests for human trafficking have brought the issue to the forefront of the American legal system and prove that the problem is much closer to home than many believe.

Hundreds of Super Bowl Arrests

Just hours after the Super Bowl concluded, reports surfaced regarding the extent of this year’s sex trafficking sting – an operation that now takes place annually alongside the world’s biggest sporting event. “Law enforcement agencies in 17 states arrested nearly 600 people and rescued 68 victims of human trafficking during a sting in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIX, police said,” wrote James Queally of the LA Times.

While the exact details of who was rescued is kept private for security measures, it’s interesting to note that the FBI reported rescuing 25 child prostitutes during last year’s Super Bowl roundup. This year’s sting took place of over 18 days, from January 15 to February 1 – the day of the game in Phoenix, Arizona.

Brooke Axtell at 2015 Grammy Awards, trying to bring awareness to the sex trafficking crisis  photo/ screenshot CBS coverage

Brooke Axtell at 2015 Grammy Awards, trying to bring awareness to the sex trafficking crisis photo/ screenshot CBS coverage

Washington Seeks to Eradicate Trafficking

The folks on Capitol Hill are in full support of the crackdown on human trafficking and recently passed 12 bills aimed at slowing the underground criminal network. As Secretary of State John Kerry said, “The fact is that trafficking in adults and children is literally one of the largest criminal enterprises on earth today.” He stated that more than 20 million people around the world are being victimized each year, with profits for trafficking exceeding $150 billion in the black market.

While this year’s sting was successful, it doesn’t mark the end for domestic and international law enforcement agencies. With the newly passed bills, additional funding and attention will be allocated to the issue in hopes that the public will become more educated about what’s happening right around them.

Learning to Spot Sex Trafficking

One of the biggest things people can do is learn to spot signs of sex trafficking in their own cities and neighborhoods. Polaris, which works directly alongside the United States government in exposing sex trafficking, provides some helpful tips on how to recognize the signs of trafficking. Red flags include:

  • Living conditions. Victims are not free to come and go as they please, are always accompanied by an older man, work long hours, and don’t communicate with outsiders.
  • Mental health. Victims are skittish, depressed, submissive, nervous, paranoid, and typically avoid eye contact.
  • Physical health. Victims usually lack health care and may appear malnourished. It’s also possible that they show signs of physical restraint, confinement, or sexual abuse.
  • Lack of control. Victims usually have few possessions, have no personal identification, and aren’t allowed to speak for themselves.

It’s important to always contact law enforcement instead of making personal allegations. As attorney Brett Podolsky knows, it’s not uncommon for the untrained eye to make false allegations. If you believe you have a lead on a human trafficking situation, it’s best to turn things over to the proper authorities.

Guest Author: Lolita Di

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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