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WA Human Trafficking Sting Highlights Importance of New Law

A recent human trafficking sting in Washington State led to the arrest of 12 men, all of whom are being accused of trying to sexually exploit children.

The charges include attempted child rape, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and commercial sex abuse of a minor.

The sting, which was conducted in Pierce County by Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Task Force, involved officers posting and responding to sexual ads online, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. The officers impersonated “preteens or parents offering their children for sex.”

Officers say they rescued two children during the latest sting. Detective Sergeant Carlos Rodriguez, who runs the task force, told the Tacoma News Tribune that suspects who unknowingly meet with undercover officers often bring along children.

The recent sting highlights the need for recently passed legislation that helps protect those who are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

In addition to experiencing inconceivable trauma, victims of sex trafficking often find themselves with criminal records after being convicted of engaging in prostitution and other crimes.

Thankfully, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation earlier this week that allows victims of sex trafficking to petition the court to vacate their convictions stemming from their time being trafficked.

The new law empowers victims of sexual exploitation to begin the arduous process of rebuilding their lives free the criminal records resulting from their time as sex slaves.

Although most Americans mistakenly assume that slavery has been eradicated in the United States and throughout most of the world, “sex trafficking in the U.S. a ‘problem of epidemic proportion,’” according to an FBI law enforcement bulletin quoted in the Washington Times.

Human trafficking victims are often prostituted or forced to participate in pornographic videos distributed online. It is believed that there exists an “inseparable link” between porn and sex slavery:

“The truth is, there is no way for [viewers of pornography] to tell if what they are watching was made illegally or if all parties are there willingly. And even if they’re there willingly, performing on camera, were they coerced or threatened into agreement? For this reason, clicking porn directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling video of their sex slaves to porn sites.”

Washingtonians need to be aware that human trafficking for sexual exploitation is occurring in their communities. Any progress against human trafficking in our beloved state will need to come through a concerted effort by law enforcement, legislators, and concerned citizens to prevent exploitation, punish traffickers, and protect victims.

 

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and research fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Under Trump, Fight Against Human Trafficking Intensifies

In the mainstream media’s recent mission to topple Trump’s presidency at any cost, some of his accomplishments have flown under the radar. One accomplishment that should be garnering considerable media coverage (but remains largely unreported) is recent success in the fight against human trafficking.

According to an article by Liz Crokin of Townhall.com, over 1,500 human trafficking arrests have been conducted by the FBI in the last two months alone. Naysayers are already contending that these arrests are in no way associated with the president. Some go as far as calling these victories “mythical.”

The facts seem to contradict the narrative proposed by the cynics. Some of the more prominent arrests for human trafficking include:

  • January: During the Detroit Auto Show Law Enforcement Officers made over a dozen arrests and rescued 14 adults and 2 underage victims
  • January 27: Operation Someone Like Me resulted in 42 arrests by LEOs in Tennessee
  • January 26-28: Operation Reclaim and Rebuild resulted in the arrest of 474 individuals with 27 adult victims and 28 underage victims rescued.
  • February 9 : Twenty-nine sex traffickers and 723 johns were arrested nationwide during the National John’s Suppression Initiative.
  • February 21: Nine individuals arrested with 11 women and 1 underage victim liberated in New Orleans.
  • March 7: San Joaquin County Sting resulted in 10 individuals arrested and 2 victims saved.
  • March 10: The Guardian Angel Human Trafficking Operation resulted in 9 arrested.

Law enforcement’s increased emphasis on reducing human trafficking has resulted in more arrests related to human trafficking than the entire 2014 calendar year (in which there were only 480 arrests) and the 2015 calendar year (750 arrests). Such a dramatic increase in arrests suggests that something has changed. It seems to me that Trump’s vociferous support of law enforcement since the first day of his term could be the catalyst.

In any event, we can certainly celebrate that our children and millions of children nationwide are safer due to the devotedness of local law enforcement and FBI agents. The media should leave politics aside and give mention to the success and dedication of those working to eliminate human trafficking.

 

Kyli Erickson is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog.