JACKSON, MISS– Experts on human trafficking from Georgia met with 100 Mississippi law enforcement officers today to offer training, advice, and technique on how to deal with the world’s fastest growing crime.
Georgia Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents led local, state, and federal law enforcement officers from around the state in a one day seminar.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation says there are two main types of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. This year alone, Mississippi has had eight cases of human trafficking: some were solely trafficked for sex, some for labor, and some for both. Since 2007, there’s been 125 cases in Mississippi. Human trafficking has increased sixty-six percent in Mississippi since 2009.
“Human trafficking is a 9.8 billion dollar industry in the United States,” says James Herzog, Director of Special Operation in the Major Crime Unit with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation,” it is a very real problem in Mississippi.”
Herzog says the sex trafficking of children is on the rise.
“Homeless kids, runaways, kids that people are looking for,” says Herzog, “they start them around 11 to 13 years of age.”
Herzog says the traffickers, or pimps, will gain the trust of these kids, become a fatherly or even boyfriend-like model in their lives, before fully turning them over to the trafficking business. He adds it’s not just homeless kids or runaways, but children who are abducted, and maybe lured away via social media.
“Attention, fame, money,” says Herzog, “he’s telling these kids what they want to hear.”
And Herzog says the traffickers will provide money, new clothes, and attention for the kids to earn their trust.
“Then it all goes downhill from there,” says Herzog, “that’s when we see abuse, sexual abuse, a rise in sexually transmitted diseases..”
But Herzog says you can help.
“If you notice anything that doesn’t seem right, and your gut will tell you,” says Herzog, “dial 911, talk to the dispatcher, and have an investigator call you.”
Herzog says if you do suspect something, look for abuse markings on a chlid’s body, their inability to speak, or inconsistent stories between the child, other children, and the person you may suspect to be the trafficker if you are able to speak with them.