By Benjamin Ward
SPRINGFIELD – It’s the second largest criminal industry in the world and it may be happening closer than you would expect.
Human sex trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Over thirty million people, mostly underage females, are forced into selling themselves for sex.
Springfield police say the city is seeing an increase in tips on sex trafficking, although no cases are currently pending.
“They may just be very apprehensive of coming forward to law enforcement, they may not really trust law enforcement to get them out of that situation, especially if they were raised to really have a mistrust for law enforcement,” said Sergeant Steve Schwind, a former special investigations officer.
SPD says it must continue to be aggressive towards sex trafficking.
One way the SPD is doing this is by working directly with the FBI.
“Earlier this year we assisted with what was called operation cross country,” said Sergeant Schwind.
This nationwide joint effort resulted in the recovery of 149 sexually exploited children and over 150 arrests.
The police department isn’t the only one making an impact on the sex trafficking scene.
Several organizations like GO61 and Night light International bring awareness, as well as offer help to the victims.
The victim center is one local resource available for anyone who has been affected by sex trafficking.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, you are urged to contact law enforcement or one of the local organizations.