01-04-2015, 03:38 PM #1
MN - When Twin Cities girls are missing, cops look to Oil Patch
In the Twin Cities suburb of Columbia Heights, police officers say they know about North Dakota. Their detective colleagues at the Anoka County sheriff's office know that when a local girl goes missing to check North Dakota's Backpage ads.
Girls on the street talk about the oilfield, Columbia Heights police officer Maggie Titus said as she participated recently on a Twin Cities panel discussing sex trafficking. Some have visited the Oil Patch, she said, and men working legitimate jobs there come home to Minnesota and talk about how visible the sex trade is.
North Dakota service providers, including staff at domestic violence shelters, report seeing a growing number of women and girls they believe to be victims of trafficking, but the state has no dedicated shelters for trafficking victims and the facilities that offer such services are 500 or more miles from the Oil Patch. Law enforcement agencies and victim service providers in western North Dakota, even if inclined to help, are maxed out, struggling to keep up with all the demands of a booming population and the crime that has followed...
In the past year, federal and state courts in North Dakota have charged seven people with offenses related to sex trafficking or felony facilitating or promoting prostitution. The cases involve allegations in Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Dickinson. More than a dozen men were convicted in the state in 2014 in federal and state courts for seeking to buy sex with underage girls. The sting that resulted in charges against Lakey snared so many prospective johns it had to be shut down early.
Paula Bosh, who has worked as a victim specialist with the FBI in Minot for 11 years, never encountered a human-trafficking case until recently. She now estimates she has worked with 12 adult victims of sex trafficking in northwest North Dakota in the past 1 1/2 years.
In the summer of 2014, Forum News Service set out to shed light on what we saw as a growing problem in North Dakota: human trafficking. It wasn’t until we began reporting that we realized truly what a serious issue our state had on its hands. Not only because of the depravity of the crimes taking place in our own communities, but also because of the difficulties in detecting trafficking victims and given the unique nature of the Oil Patch, where the high ratio of men to women has created an issue of supply and demand.
01-14-2015, 11:16 AM #2
Interesting that Minnesota and North Dakota are leading the way on this:
The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act is modeled after Minnesota's "Safe Harbor" law, which protects sex trafficking victims from being prosecuted as defendants. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota say the bill would allow prosecutors to better handle minor sex trafficking cases and provide support to victims.
The bill seeks to establish a national strategy to combat human trafficking.
The legislation also was introduced by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Mark Kirk of Illinois. It's supported by at least six national organizations, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Fraternal Order of Police.
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