Sex trafficking: How suspects are caught and victims heal

Sex trafficking, it's a booming industry right here in the States, and several cases have been reported in Oxford.

Posted: Jul. 9, 2018 10:30 PM
Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 9:06 AM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) - Sex trafficking, it's a booming industry right here in the states, and several cases have been reported in Oxford.

Six child sex trafficking cases are being worked on in the Jackson division, according to Investigator Walter Henry.

Henry, who has been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 26 years, says in many cases adults have been trained to stay in the crime. That way they can be controlled.

"Part of the problem with the 18-year-olds and over is that jurors, individuals are less sympathetic to them," said Henry. "They've already been programmed to think it's their only option."

According to Shared Hope International, the age victims enter sex trafficking is typically 14 to 16. Some running away from an estranged family situation with mental health issues, making them prime targets for exploiters.

"You don't have to turn tricks on the street, you can post yourself on a social network," said the investigator. "We've seen them make a circuit, some of them go as far as Atlanta. They go from Memphis."

Communication plays a major part between agencies when tracking suspects.

However, once the suspects are caught, what about the victims?

WTVA spoke with Sandy Middleton, with the Tower. Its apart of the Center for Violence Prevention.

It's an organization to help victims of sex trafficking.

"Many times it can take two or three maybe five years to restore them," said Middleton.

Middleton says a rapid response team to help victims will be in Oxford and Tupelo, next month, to respond on the scene with law enforcement.

"With minor victims, it's not unusual at all to see them placed in juvenile detentions centers and placed in psychiatric care facilities."

Middleton recalled one case in particular has stuck with her.

"The victim was forced to become pregnant with the trafficker's child. So that trafficker was able to use that child as leverage to further control the victim."

The Tower has worked 35 cases in just the last year. Middleton agrees its a testament to how much help is needed for victims.

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