Child sex trafficking on the rise in U.S. as gangs profit by selling children
Government wants public help fighting the trend.
This month, a federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, is prosecuting members of a gang known as the "Cold-Blooded Cartel." The gang, based in Georgia, has been has been so successful at pimping underage prostitutes, that the practice is now more lucrative than drugs or weapons.
The trafficking of children and the exploitation of women is on the rise in the U.S. according to the FBI.
Several cases have recently been processed by federal prosecutors in Virginia. One leader of the Cold-Blooded Cartel was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. Another member of the notorious MS-13 gang, is now being prosecuted for a similar offense. According to the office, they prosecuted 27 defendants in getting related human trafficking cases since 2011, and they identified at least 28 juvenile victims.
The authorities believe the gangs are recruiting vulnerable teens both in person, an online. Convincing these teens to run away, they then force them into prostitution. The flow of money, sex, and drugs is extraordinarily profitable, leading other gangs to look towards child prostitution as a safer way to earn money. Drug and gun trafficking already receive a lot of attention from the authorities, whereas child prostitution rings have been neglected.
Gang members have been accused of using a combination of marijuana, ecstasy, and in some cases violence, to compel children to have sex with strangers. Victims ranged in age from 12 to 17.
According to former US Attorney Neil McBride, "The profit margin, the income stream that comes from selling the bodies of children . . . is enormous."
Experts have no idea how many children are being trafficked for sex and United States. Nor do they have any idea how much that trafficking is being organized by games as opposed to individuals. They believe the problem is significant, and it is definitely serious and worthy of attention. Nor is this problem a uniquely American one, child sex trafficking occurs all around the globe.
Adding to the problem is the fact they are using children, who are easier to coerce and more difficult to get information from.
It may be surprising however to many Americans, that child prostitution is going on in their communities.
An advocacy group, known as the Polaris Project, told the Washington Post in an interview that their organization saw an explosion of phone calls after public attention was focused on the human trafficking cases. Bradley Miles, CEO of the group, told the Washington Post that "his organization responded to more than 2,700 cases of child sex trafficking in the past five years... calls addressing all types of trafficking have increased from about 400 a month in 2007 to about 3,000 months now."
In the same Washington Post report, Melissa Snow, a child sex trafficking specialist who works for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said she thinks about one in eight endangered runaways are being trafficked for sex.
Federal authorities are looking to stem the rising tide of child sex trafficking in the United States by prosecuting websites that provide matchmaking services between children, pimps, and johns, as well as prosecuting gangs that organize the activity.
For now, authorities recommend public vigilance, and that the public contact them with any tips or leads they may have. While the best protection for these children comes from deterring them from running away, the second line of defense is an alert public who contact the authorities whenever they see something, particularly a child, who appears to be at risk.
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