Trafficking Ring Broken

August 2, 2012

Minnesota- Young girls are often naive and unable to recognize signs of deception. Knowing this, traffickers will often use this form of naivety to lure girls into trafficking. Traffickers will often offer girls a wonderful life by indulging them with gifts in order to lure them into the world of trafficking. Girls are often fooled into thinking they are part of some lavish lifestyle or party. The traffickers may offer them guarantees of money, clothes, and shelter. However, for most girls this “guarantee” of a lavish lifestyle turns into a nightmare in reality.

Such was the case in Minnesota where girls as young as thirteen were being trafficked. Investigators, along with the help of Brooklyn Center, began their investigation when a young female victim came to police to notify them that she had been forced to participate in prostitution. Investigators began working on the case and within months were able to bust the juvenile prostitution ring. 

Three men were found to be involved in the juvenile prostitution ring. They were arrested, along with seven others who were also involved. The juvenile prostitution ring consisted of girls from the ages of thirteen all the way to seventeen who were being solicited online for prostitution. The three men running the ring were charged with sex traffcking, the prostitution of a nineteen year old female on the website, the solicitation of a woman for sex, and being involved with a minor for sex.

Police, along with social services, worked to help reconnect the young female victims with their families and also worked to provide the young girls with counseling services.  Simple as this sounds, the process of healing for the girls is a long and difficult journey.  Peace, comfort and safety are feelings hard to come by for victims, even after being rescued. 

For many young girls, the opportunity to be indulged with attention and gifts appeals to them. They may believe that their trafficker genuinely cares for them because the trafficker is buying them gifts and promising them a great life. However, what most young girls don’t know is that traffickers use these promises of a great life to lure them into prostitution. 

"The grooming process is  the most commonly used form of deception employed by traffickers.  Grooming is a process the trafficker uses to "mentor" a young victim into human trafficking." 

They might buy them nice clothes, give them a place to stay and make them feel like they are taken care of. They may even promise affection,  love, and commitment.  It’s no wonder young girls are fooled. Eventually, though, the trafficker’s  support and promises turn into mental, physical and sexual abuse as they force victims into trafficking. Many victims are so “successfully groomed" by their traffickers that they do no realize their support turned into abuse. 

There are many reasons why young girls become victims of trafficking. Some may be hoping to escape from a difficult home life while others may be unknowingly trafficked by a friend or stranger. It’s important that young girls be aware of the dangers that surround human trafficking and know that no matter how many gifts a trafficker offers them or how many promises of a great life they receive, there is nothing glamorous at all about trafficking. It’s a world that, once stepped inside of, is often impossible to escape. 

"We cannot teach teens how to recognize traffickers by how they look, because they can take on any form,, woman, couple, even fellow student.  We  must therefore teach them how to recognize deception."

This is why it is so important that young girls be educated on the dangers of human trafficking, as well as made aware of the red flags that are often associated with potential traffickers. This story is an example of why youths need to be trained to recognize the deception tactics used by traffickers.

Freedom Youth Project has been working on developing and delivering this training to teens and pre-teens to help prepare them to avoid encounters with traffickers.  Prevention strategies are taught for encounters which could occur both in person and online. Much of our current work at Freedom Youth Project is devoted to empowering youth so that the supply of new victims for traffickers is eliminated. 

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