GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) The Department of Homeland Security just released its 2016 report that shows nationwide, nearly two-thousand criminal arrests connected to sex trafficking.
And unfortunately, the latest numbers show human trafficking remains a major problem right here, in eastern North Dakota.
Investigators say pimps setup 2 to 4 young girls at Fargo or Grand Forks motels, then advertise on internet sex sites to bring in customers. They may setup shop for just a few days and they’re gone.
Michael Mach, Homeland Security Investigations: “Yeah, all you need is internet access, a backpage ad, any kind of other social media. They can come into a city, setup shop for 4 or 5 days, make their money and leave.”
Shane Conroy, Homeland Security Invstigations: “The victim’s we’ve come across have been primarily juvenile females. The youngest victim I think we’ve seen in Fargo was 15-years old.
Investigators say their goal is to rescue the young girls trapped in that lifestyle, by prosecuting the pimps and the men who are willing to pay them for sex.
The women are then put into counseling and other outreach programs. Investigators say many of the victims are runaways, who are from all over the Country.
Shane Conroy, Homeland Security Invstigations: “We see some locally, but the majority are traveling in from out of state, from metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis.”
Runaways in need of help, who wind up under the control of pimps in an industry that exists only, because of the men willing to pay for sex.
Michael Mach, Homeland Security Investigations: “I can’t say that the oil boom has caused human trafficking or that it’s a result of the oil boom. I couldn’t tell you that.”
Reporter: “But it’s here?”
Mach: “It’s here.”
Shane Conroy, Homeland Security Invstigations: “Human trafficking we’ve encountered on this side of the State we find is due to the good economy. The people doing the trafficking are also selling drugs.”
Michael Mach, Homeland Security Investigations: “Human trafficking is in our area and it’s going to be a challenge moving forward.”
If you have any information about suspicious activity in your town, here’s a 24 hour tip line number: 1-866-347-2423.