Human trafficking arrest on the rise, Officials warn of signs

Human trafficking generates an estimated $32 billion dollars a year worldwide. And, it's happening in the Wabash Valley.

Posted: Aug 7, 2018 7:12 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Human trafficking generates an estimated $32 billion dollars a year worldwide. And, it's happening in the Wabash Valley. 

Last week, we told you about three people arrested in Putnam County on human trafficking charges. Now, officials are saying it's a problem, on the rise. Police say it's the second leading criminal enterprise. And, it continues to grow. 

Would you be able to spot a trafficker walking down the street? "They look like everybody else," BJ Patterson, an Indiana State Trooper said. "We've had a few cases in the past couple years where we have identified traffickers. We were able to get those individuals that were being trafficked out of the situation."

A lengthy investigation landed three people in jail last week. All face charges for human trafficking and child molestation. 

"It's very common that the victim doesn't come forward and let them know what is going on," Patterson said. 

The incidents reportedly took play two years ago at a Rockville area campsite, a Waveland campground, and a Montgomery County motel. 

"They {traffickers} pick places where people don't know them. So, they are able to get away with what they are doing and make money."

In an interview with police, the woman admitted selling the girls for sex because she claims she needed the money. 

"A lot of times it starts with at traffic stop and other times it might be a suspicious call at a hotel," Patterson said. 

Patterson says he and other officials push out training for human trafficking. 

"We know what to look for," he said. "We know the indicators and we know how to interview."

Patterson says it's important for not just police to know signs, but you too. 

"The common behavior of a child," he said. "How is the child interacting with the adult? How is the child interacting with other adults? Or is the child allowed to even interact?"

Patterson says there are several resources to try to combat the issue. He says Indiana has a Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force. It's one more source to help fight statewide sex trafficking of minors.

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