The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), in partnership with the law firm of Serrano | McGuire, is launching the first of its kind online campaign to intercept online sex buyers looking to purchase sex during events leading up to Super Bowl LV on Sunday, February 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.
Operation Stomp Out will utilize integrated online technologies to disrupt sex trafficking operations as traffickers and sex buyers descend on Tampa during the two weeks surrounding Super Bowl LV.
“The Super Bowl brings thousands of sex buyers, traffickers, and victims to the host city every year, and we expect Tampa to be no different,” said USIAHT Chairman Kevin Malone. “We are fully prepared to intervene in sex trafficking operations using the most advanced technology available to stop the purchase of sex before it happens and provide resources to victims.”
Over the past few months, while many of us were preoccupied with politics and the pandemic, U.S. Marshals bravely carried out a series of nationwide operations that rescued hundreds of human trafficking victims in at least seven states. These victimized women, runaway youngsters and children had been enslaved into a dangerous and deadly lifestyle by criminals who used their captives’ bodies to enrich themselves.
Barr called human trafficking an “evil scourge,” and he thanked President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka for working to end human trafficking and help survivors. Beyond the financial support, Barr said his department will do everything possible to “investigate, prosecute and punish” traffickers.
The $35 million in Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking is being provided by the Office for Victims of Crime within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to provide housing and services to human trafficking survivors.
Lake County, California– Human trafficking victims in California can now qualify for up to $20,000 in income loss paid through the California Victim Compensation Board. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Bill 629 (Smith and Gonzalez) has gone into effect to address the lasting repercussions of trafficking.
Dallas, Texas — Cyntoia Brown Long says sex trafficking is often not “black and white” and there is no “perfect victim,” as evidenced by her own case and the ongoing case of Chrystul Kizer, a teenager who is accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker and was released on bond last week.
Kenosha County, WI — Chrystul Kizer is out of custody after a Chicago-based aid organization posted her $400,000 bond. Kizer, 19, was released from Kenosha County Jail on Monday afternoon. She has been in custody for two years, awaiting trial for the June 2018 shooting death of a man prosecutors admit had been sexually assaulting Kizer and other underage girls.
Boise, Idaho — Amanda Forest survived a life inside the world of human trafficking, now she wants to help other victims in Idaho. “What we are aiming for is a survivor-centered approach,” said Forrest. “We are dialing in on ending the demand.”
AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. — Three Aiken County motels are being sued for allegedly knowing about and profiting from sex trafficking that occurred at their property between August 2017 and 2018.
The plaintiff, represented by attorney Daniel R. Dalton of Mickelsen Dalton LLC in Mount Pleasant, is described as a female resident of South Carolina who is a victim of a “severe form of trafficking,” according to a complaint filed Thursday through the Second Judicial Circuit. At each location, the plaintiff was told by her trafficker to decline housekeeping; the trafficker paid for rooms in cash or with counterfeit money and a large number of men and women would enter and exit where the plaintiff stayed. The South Carolina Attorney General’s human trafficking force task force is comprised of more than 300 different agencies across the state, including some in Aiken, and is working to get to the root of the problem.
Sex trafficking has increased in our area due to instability caused by COVID-19, according to area non-profit Hub of HOPE.
“Despite COVID-19, trafficking continues,” said Jenny Sorey, founder and executive director of Hub of HOPE. “We would estimate that it is actually increasing, simply because of the nature of trafficking. We know that it has a direct relationship with poverty and addiction, and are we not seeing an increase of poverty or an increase of a need for financial stability?”
“Having those great needs and being in a situation where they are at high risk, their vulnerability is increased. A traffickers pleas, a traffickers grooming tactics are going to be hard to dismiss because the promises are very good, but they’re very empty,” Sorey said. “They’re promised love or attention, companionship — who doesn’t want companionship during COVID time, right? — and so many people really lend their ear to those, really, lies, empty promises of a trafficker, and find themselves then caught in sex trafficking.”
On Jan. 11, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we applauded Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pardon Robbie Ann Hamilton, a North Dallas sex trafficking survivor turned advocate who committed nonviolent crimes decades ago.
Hamilton, now 58 and an advocate and mentor for victims of trafficking and those suffering from addiction, described the state’s new path toward clemency as “monumental.” Thanks to decades of advocacy and education by nonprofits like Dallas-based New Friends New Life, she explained, “we better understand the impact of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking on the victims of these heinous crimes, and so can better address and care for the victims.”
TOPEKA – Five grant programs, serving victims of crime across Kansas are open for application, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Friday.
More than $2.5 million in grant funds were awarded last year from five different state programs through the office of the attorney general. Funds are used to assist local and state crime victim assistance organizations across Kansas in providing direct services to crime victims, as well as in developing prevention programs to address violence.
Nampa, ID. Rucker the golden-doodle puppy, is a new therapy dog for survivors of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence at the Family Justice Center. Rucker gives people comfort by allowing others to hug him. He has a great temperament and calm demeanor.
Amid the COVID – 19 pandemic, Delta airlines has donated over 200,000 pounds of food so far in 2020. Delta sent food to hospitals, food banks, and other organizations worldwide to support the front-line workers. Several organizations include: Feeding America, Georgia Food & Resource Center and the Carthage Crisis Center in Missouri.
The donation includes both perishable and non-perishable goods. In Nice, France, Delta donated to a nonprofit called MIR and donated meals and coffee. MIR has been known to provide survivors of human trafficking free meals and shelter.
In 2018, Polaris reported the highest number of sex trafficking survivors in the United States was 243, their ages ranged from 15-17 years of age. In 2018 the numbers reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline illustrated that 7,126 women were trafficked and 2,378 minors were trafficked.
Jasmine’s story is featured in this article. Jasmine Grace was 19 when she met an older man. After graduating from cosmetology school, the trafficker sold Jasmine to men around the East Coast for five years.
Steven is the co-founder CEO of Valiant Consultants, a US-based firm that offers automation services for Amazon and helps survivors of sex trafficking. Each time an Amazon store opens with Steve’s team, 5% of profits go to Amazon partners that help prevent and work toward stopping sex traffickers. Steve has opened over 600 stores and has given back thousands of dollars to survivors of sex trafficking.
Leah Gunn, has recently escaped sex trafficking after being trapped for nearly two decades, Leah is now working part time at RE+NEW+ALL, candle company in Memphis, TN, is providing survivors of sex trafficking the opportunity to have a new purpose. “In its earliest form, RE+NEW+ALL was not a business — it was art therapy.” Survivors are able to work part time and work on their goals whether it is reconnecting with a loved one or going back to school to get a G.E.D. Although, severe thunderstorms in January flooded their studio, their inventory was saved.
To learn more about RE+NEW+ALL and what they are doing in Memphis visit their website at https://www.renewallcandle.com/
“It’s the same reaction as it was 13 years ago where 90 percent of the audience still has no idea that this happens, and it’s really sad because I work my butt off as well as every one of these agencies and I see hundreds of survivors and there’s still a majority of people that have no idea it happens here,” Flores said.
While jailed in Austin, TX. Robbie Ann Hamilton asked God to help her quit drugs and to get out of that life. After participating in groups like Alchoholics Anonymous and New Friends New Life in rehab, she turned it around, committing her life to helping homeless addicts.
The Metropolitan Police Department has a human trafficking task force that includes the department’s vice unit; law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels; Refuge for Women, the Rape Crisis Center, Seeds of Hope and a network of survivors who meet monthly to discuss how best to assist human trafficking survivors in the valley.
“I never heard from her again. She only had a week left to go before her bed opened up, but the two weeks she toughed it out waiting on the street kept her in harm’s reach,” says Saylor of San Diego, CA. who is a survivor of human trafficking.
For months, she was forced into the sex trade by one of the most dangerous traffickers in the state, if not the country. Karla Solomon barely survived months of torture and what is known as modern slavery. Now that she’s safe, she has dedicated her life to telling her devastating but important story in hopes of saving others from the terrors of sex trafficking.
Selah Freedom, a Florida-based charity organization with a mission to end sex trafficking, recently opened its newest, and largest, safe house at an undisclosed Kenosha County, WI location. It will offer a safe residential program for those rescued from sex trafficking, educational planning, job placement, trauma therapy, life skills, and medical assistance.
Taniece Temple appeared on the show Wednesday for her first on-camera interview since her abuser was sentenced. Temple was only 13 years old when her Toledo, OH pastor, Anthony Haynes, started sexually abusing her and forcing her to have sex with anyone he chose.
Sgt. Roger Thomas, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, got a “Back the Blue” award Wednesday from Attorney General Ashley Moody. Sgt. Thomas worked beyond his midnight shift to identify the 17-year-old and reunite her with family.
Reflection Ministries of Texas is set to open “The Village” – a set of homes that will house victims of human trafficking – at the beginning of next year. Lisa Bownds, founder of Reflection Ministries, said they have several acres of land with five cottages. Four of the cottages will be used for housing and the last cottage will be a multi-purpose building used for counseling, therapeutic services and training classes.
Florida law that passed in 2013 allows victims of human trafficking to clear records of arrests that resulted, but process can be slow and complicated. The Justice Restoration Center in Dunedin, FL, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping trafficking victims erase criminal records. Executive director Brent Woody said Florida has the best such law in the nation, and his organization has worked with more than 200 victims.
The Kalamazoo Planning Commission in Michigan approved a request for a single-family home in the Vine Neighborhood to house victims of human trafficking. The housing will be the only shelter of its kind in Southwest Michigan that allows men, women and children.
Devonte R. Roberson, 27, of DeSoto, TX, tried to sell a woman to an undercover detective for sex, authorities said. The woman was identified and rescued with the help of Unbound, a local nonprofit that offers services to victims of human trafficking.
Peter Paul Castillo, 30, and Johnette Amanda Terrell, 18, both of Los Angeles, CA, forced a 15-year-old girl, who had been reported as a runaway, into prostitution. The victim was rescued, offered immediate services and resources, then safely returned to her family.
Survivor Karla Solomon, 30, of Texas, was first trafficked for sex when she ran away from home at just 12-years-old. Her mother and stepfather were addicted to crack, and she never knew her biological father.
Investigators found the teen and took her to a nearby hospital before she was released to Child Protective Services. Officials arrested Imani Cole, 22, of Spring, TX, who created the sex ad for the 15-year-old girl. Raven Lovings, 28, of Houston, TX, was also arrested for his role in the girl’s sex trafficking.
The trafficker would always pay for the rooms in cash and when he didn’t have money for rooms at the Econo Lodge in N.Y.C., NY, he allowed hotel staff to rape the 10-year-old girl “in lieu of his payment for the rooms,” the papers show. There was even a bowl of free condoms displayed at the front desk that the victim would use when they ran out, the suit states.
Armand King of San Diego, CA, spent more than a decade working as a pimp. Today, King speaks publicly about his experiences in sex trafficking all over the country to law enforcement agencies and professionals. King’s personal story, told in his book, takes a look at the impact pimping and prostitution has had on communities of color.
At 13, Alicia “Kozak” Kozakiewicz was abducted from her Pittsburgh home by a predator who had groomed her online. Now 31, Kozakiewicz works with aviation humanitarian group Airline Ambassadors International, to train and educate airport and airline staff about human trafficking.
Letty Serrano appeared to be a typical Texas high school student with a loving family until she was forced into sex trafficking. The family says at just 13 years old, Serrano was drugged and sold to sex traffickers.
Hope Joy Zeferjohn, a Topeka, KS native, became a victim of the commercial sex trade while in state custody, ran away, and was sent to prison for aggravated human trafficking. Despite federal and state laws that bar prosecuting children for prostitution, Zeferjohn is serving a nearly six-year sentence in the Topeka Correctional Facility and will spend a lifetime on the state sex offender registry.
Six females, including a 16-year-old, were identified as victims of human trafficking after a two-week sting in the Kingwood, Texas area. Seventy-nine people were arrested in the multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking and prostitution. The sting is part of an ongoing effort to help trafficking victims who are often moved from town to town.
Neighbors in a retail center in DeSoto, Texas, said they’ve noticed and reported suspicious activity at the massage business for several months. Some neighbors said they believe several women were living at the business and performing more than massages. The numerous complaints led investigators to the recovery of two human trafficking victims.
A young woman out of Houston, Texas, was 15 years old when she was lured by sex traffickers. She’s suing three Houston hotels who at the time, in 2016 and 2017 when the allegations occurred, operated as Candlewood Suites, Clarion Inn and Suites – Westchase and Red Roof Inn. The young woman also claims she was even solicited by the guy working the front desk at the Clarion.
Maria Perez of San Antonio, TX was 25 when she fell victim to human trafficking. Perez said the man she was dating at the time suddenly changed and one night he kidnapped her—throwing her in the trunk of a car and driving across the border into Mexico. Perez is now a community activist, sharing her story and making it her mission to alert the community about the dangers that lurk around every corner in San Antonio and Texas.
Led by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, TX, the six-night operation began on July 29 and used undercover officers to rescue those being held against their will and connect them with resources to escape their abusers. The operation ended Aug. 3, when officers made contact with human trafficking victims and their traffickers. The victims were detained and taken to a fire department where a team of social service providers were waiting to help.
Pomona, CA police working to combat human trafficking and prostitution in their city rescued the third teenage human trafficking victim in the past two weeks on Friday. “Upon further investigation, officers discovered that the female was actually a 17-year-old minor who had been the victim of human trafficking since the age of 15 years old,” the Pomona Police Department said in a written statement.
A 15-year-old female victim of human trafficking was rescued Tuesday during an undercover police operation in Pomona. Pomona police use such undercover operations to allow victims of human trafficking the opportunity to speak with law enforcement and victims’ advocates in an effort to help them relocate to safe locations.
“We had a 30 percent turnover rate in the first month,” Brian says. “Some we attributed to addiction, some to trauma bond [with former captors]. There are constantly things pulling them back into that life.”
“We’re doing creative activities that are fun, meaningful and memorable,” says Lynch. “The girls we work with, their nervous systems change. They feel excited, hopeful, elevated, open, alive. We have a front-row seat to people transforming and healing.”
More than 100 child sex trafficking victims were rescued across the U.S. last month in an effort code-named Operation Independence Day that involved sweeps in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Seattle and resulted in 67 arrests.
A Tennessee sex trafficking victim sentenced to life in prison as a teenager is now free, and her release is a milestone in the fight to end trafficking. Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a man who solicited her for sex 15 years ago.
Seven child trafficking victims — the youngest just 15 years old — were rescued in Georgia during a month-long, operation, the FBI announced Tuesday. They were among 103 child victims recovered across the nation in an investigation that involved more than 400 agencies. Sixty-seven sex traffickers were also arrested, authorities said.
A four year old girl was found 1,200 miles from her home in the hands of suspected human traffickers — and authorities think her mother handed her over to them. The child was pretty much given to a pimp, an associate of a pimp or family of the pimp for keeping before she traveled to Louisiana.”
Asking to help them spread the word on Facebook about a missing girl, a re-sounding alarm was immediately set off. There was no time to waste, because within 24 hours Sally could have been sold and lost forever within the underground network of human trafficking.
A 9-year-old boy is safe after police say he was kidnapped and almost trafficked to another city, but police were able to track him down just in time. Police spent the entire night tracking down the child until he was found inside a car at a local grocery store.
Now, she’s not only an advocate, but she’s been appointed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to the Direct Support Organization for the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, a new initiative to come out of the new Florida law.
WHYY does not typically publish rape victims’ names. However, Alicia Cohen wants to go public with her story to empower sex trafficking survivors, said her attorney, Dan Stephenson. 39-year-old, Cohen is reclaiming her memories and wants to hold her father accountable.
This time it’s another inmate, Alsanne Keita, who says he was 15 years old when he was kept at the facility that during his time there in 2012, Nathalie Medford, an employee known as ”Ms. C” who called the inmates her “sons,” repeatedly raped Keita during his detention — and threatened to plant drugs and guns in his cell if he dared to talk.
Alison Franklin said traffickers prey people who have been abused. As she got older she was kidnapped by gang members in Houston. “My real trafficker pretended to rescue me from them. What I didn’t know is they actually worked together to enslave American women and children in trafficking,” Franklin said.
She said in her early 20s, when she worked at the truck stop east of Austin with her sister, she was aware of “Lot Lizards,” women who worked as prostitutes for the truck drivers, but she didn’t think much about their ages or their situations.
“Thanks to the month-long efforts of our partners, 231 children are no longer vulnerable to predators who would seek to exploit them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, GA. “Operation Safe Summer is another example of the FBI’s commitment to protecting our children before they become victims.”
Authorities in San Jose, CA. are crediting a 14-year-old girl with helping break up a human trafficking operation in San Jose earlier this week. The teen contacted the Crisis Text Line to report that she was being held against her will and forced to engage in prostitution, according to Sgt. Enrique Garcia.
“He just kept telling me all of the things I needed to hear, he told me that he’d be there for me.” “I so young and so naive, I listened to him,” recalls Jadyn Ferguson when she was 15 her life began to unravel.
30-year-old Anna Gutierrez of Nashville, TN. was placing internet ads and then forcing the victim to engage in prostitution with the men that responded. The victim told officers she was taken against her will from Arizona May 18th, and forced into prostitution.
[Perpetrators] engage in social engineering and make people think they are consenting participants to their own exploitation, when all the while they are pulling strings like a puppet master, says Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, author of a book on sex trafficking
He had been in on it all along — and made her think she was, too. Sara was in shock, unsure how it all happened. For nine months, she said he trafficked her for sex from Naples to Tampa, Orlando, Miami and back again. Night after night, he pretended she had all the power.
Within hours, she said, she was being told to have sex with strangers for money. Thomas and an accomplice, Shanteria Sanders, gave her the drug Molly, a form of the amphetamine MDMA, marijuana and liquor to keep her compliant.
Edie Rhea is a survivor of sex trafficking. Her formative years were largely spent being sold for sex by her mother’s boyfriend. It began when she was 10 and lasted until she was 17 years old. Brook Bello, like Rhea, experienced sexual abuse before being forced into sex trafficking.Their stories of rape and assault are not unique among survivors.
“[The] average person seems to think it’s a foreign national who’s come from really far away… But the truth of the matter is in the years that I’ve worked with survivors of trafficking over 90 percent are U.S. citizens…”
— Andrea Powell, Katana Rising
Sex trafficking can be a hard issue to approach in a community, but it is not impossible, according to two members of ARISE Project for Humanity, founder Williamson Sintyl and board member Coco Berthmann while at a Northern Arizona University event. Berthmann, now 25, said if she had not escaped her life of being trafficked for sex, she would be dead.
“Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Children, young girls—some as young as 9 years old—are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old. Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.
Theresa was blackmailed into prostitution as a teenager by men who had explicit photos of her. “When I learned what had happened to me was called human trafficking and that I wasn’t the only one – that there are hundreds of thousands of ‘Theresa’s’ out there, I couldn’t keep silent anymore.”
Human trafficking cases initiated in fed court dropped 29% last yr. This survivor has a message for people who think it’s not happening here: “I was trafficked in Jacksonville in the year 2013 for about nine months… It’s definitely happening in Jacksonville.” said Jenna Bourne
“I was born in great sin and that sin followed me for many years of my life,” said Sandra Richardson of Milwaukee, WI. As an early victim of human-trafficking Richardson recalls, “I could have gotten killed but God covered me because He knew I didn’t know better.”
In St. Paul, Minnesota (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Schools where trafficking survivors teach men who buy illegal sex to “feel my pain” are growing and succeeding as a way to cut U.S. demand experts say. In a typical “john school”, police, therapists, lawyers and survivors tell first-time offenders about the health and legal risks of buying sex and the impact on women who sell their bodies – which many believe is key to ending sex trafficking.
When she was 17 years old, Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole. She had been convicted of killing the man who had sexually abused and sex trafficked her for more than five years. But during her trial, details of the abuse were not allowed in court.
“We didn’t have food or money and this guy was offering it. I didn’t think I had a choice,” Angela says. She felt her self-worth disappear completely when the stranger subtracted the cost of the condoms he bought from the total he gave her. “I felt disgusted.”
Joseph Moore of Salt Lake City, UT. was sentenced to two terms of five years up to life in prison for sex trafficking Bailey Orr, who was 16 years old at the time and exploiting his own adult daughter for prostitution.
Orr is now 18 and agreed to share her story in hopes of helping other potential victims.
Donna Bruce in her late 30s and teaching about 20 students the physiology of hair, a passion of hers since she was young. What they didn’t know, or she didn’t think they knew, was her past. When she was a teenager, her mom trafficked her for drugs and money.
Sula Skiles is an advocate for sex trafficking survivors. She serves on the board of the The Trinidi Initiative, an extension of Lavished Ministries. As a survivor herself, she is using her story as a platform to help others.
“When I was 20, this was 15 years ago, I was a young, naive model in Los Angeles, went to just an event for the modeling industry,” Skiles said. One Skiles was overseas, she said what once was a dream come try turned out to be a nightmare. “Once I got there, I was forced to sleep with this monster along with other girls. They would come and go. Every night, there were new girls showing up,” she said.
When authorities busted what they say is a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking and prostitution ring in Jupiter last month, law enforcement spoke out against the horrors endured by women taken as literal sex slaves. The trafficking, they said, was not a “victimless crime.” But nearly two weeks later, the majority of the victims remain behind bars as law enforcement seeks their cooperation in the case.
Proclaiming freedom! Edie Rhea was in fourth grade when she was first molested by her mother’s boyfriend. One thing led to another, and Edie was ultimately trafficked by him as a way to support his business. By the time she was 17, Edie had been sold to approximately 150 men and women. It wasn’t until she left home that Edie first experienced freedom.
The Worcester woman is a survivor of sex trafficking. She said that although the Florida investigation involved Asian immigrant women being virtually imprisoned in sexual servitude at spas, the underlying issue is no different from prostitution on the streets of the city.
A major sign of sexual abuse is a change in behavior, said Jean. Children may no longer want to participate in physical education out of the fear of getting undressed in front of others. They may also start to exhibit low self-esteem, poor peer relationships or eating habits. Some victims tend to wear extra layers of clothes regardless of the weather. They may also revert to infantile behavior such as bed wetting, thumb sucking and excessive crying.
A woman who says she was sold for sex as a teenager is suing an Albuquerque motel and the now-closed Backpage website, alleging both businesses had a hand in allowing her to be trafficked. “The evidence is pretty strong (for) that hotel knowing what was going on due to the frequency of the visitors to the room,” McAdams said
Sex trafficking survivors and advocates are working across Wisconsin to help communities recognize signs of exploitation, such as tattoos used to brand victims. Nancy Yarbrough is a survivor who started Milwaukee nonprofit Fresh Start Learning, Inc. to provide resources to women and children who are victims of sex trafficking. Yarbrough told Wisconsin Public Radio that tattoos are commonly used in the sex trade to show that a person belongs to a specific trafficker.
Hope Green a human-trafficking survivor says, “there was never really a time when I did not get trafficked, as early as my earliest memory. Hope is one of the guest speakers this Saturday at the “Light Up the Night” event presented by Pasco County, FL. Sheriffs Dept. at Trinity College of Florida. Ticket are free.
Click “read more” for her story and more details on the event.
When she was 19 she was planning to join the Air Force and moved to California, where she met someone on Tinder and eventually agreed to move in with him. Before she moved in he took her out to a nice dinner, placed her purse with her phone, keys and wallet on his chair and asked her how she was going to pay for what he was providing. “He said ‘OK now you’re going to be a stripper and an escort’ and the only thing I could say was ‘OK,’” Skirvin said. “One of the reasons human trafficking has escalated exponentially is that there is so much reward and there’s very little risk … there is very little chance they’ll get caught, and if they do a lot of times they’re not getting prosecuted,” Reyes said.
A modeling gig set up by her boyfriend was the first night Sara was sexually assaulted. What followed was about six months of drug-hazed sexual servitude. The man she thought was her boyfriend became her trafficker. Sara was trafficked for sex from the Naples area to Miami, Tampa and Orlando in 2012. She was 21 at the time. “You don’t have to be broken,” she said. “It’s not the same recovery road for everyone. Not everyone will feel how I feel. Not everyone will surpass trauma the same way. It’s about how bad you want out.”
A small, spiral-bound notebook stays with a Greenville woman wherever she goes. For the past month, she’s been filling up the pages, growing her “thankful list.” She’s thankful to be alive. Thankful for a second chance. Thankful for a roof over her head. Thankful for a hot shower. It’s a new season of life for the 34-year-old since leaving a lifestyle of prostitution and drug abuse that began at a young age. The woman is one of five embarking on a two-year recovery program in Greenville that pulls survivors out of human sex trafficking, an industry that’s become a hidden epidemic across the U.S. and in South Carolina, particularly in the Upstate where Interstate 85 connects Atlanta to Charlotte, two of the nation’s trafficking hotbeds.
A Murfreesboro woman who was part of a human trafficking case managed to escape her captors Thanksgiving Day. The woman escaped her perpetrators by jumping out of a bathroom window in Murfreesboro and running to the Thornton’s on Old Fort Boulevard where she called her mother and then police. The 29-year old victim told police she had been sold, traded and swapped for money and drugs in the Bradyville and Readyville areas of Rutherford County, as well as Grundy County, and in Kentucky. According to a police report, the victim said she was given the drug ketamine, which induces a trance-like state, to make her sleep at night. Her captors also forced her to use cocaine during the day, she reported.
Years of forced prostitution and beatings. That’s the reality a human trafficking survivor shared Tuesday at the Manhattan Area Chamber’s Women in Business luncheon. The event aimed to show the impact of human trafficking on the local community.
“Many of our clients have been charged with crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers, or that their traffickers committed,” said San Diego attorney Jamie Quient, who started Free to Thrive last year. “They rarely speak up at the time for many reasons. Among them, they would rather serve time than cross their traffickers. They also don’t think they will be believed if they do speak up. As a result, society labels these victims as criminals.”
One of the victims said Brown threatened her with violence and intimidated her to “go get that money” or “prostitute,” according to a statement released by the office. She said he would use controlled substances as a means to coerce her into working for him in commercial sex.
Like many victims of a Connecticut sex trafficking ring that preyed on troubled young men and teenage boys for more than 20 years, Samuel Marino never told his family or police about being coerced into sexual relations with much older men.
When Americans think about human trafficking, most don’t picture a boy as the victim. But several studies, identified in USA Today earlier this year, show that boys account for a third or more of the children sexually exploited in the US.