LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Advocates joined law enforcement and local leaders on Thursday to highlight the risks of sex trafficking in Southern Nevada.
As Las Vegas gears up for an exciting few months of sporting events with visitors from around the world, advocates said it can also be a prime time for crime.
“This guy had her convinced that nobody loved her,” a local man said during the event, speaking about his late daughter.
The father described the pain his daughter endured as a sex trafficking victim in Las Vegas.
“That grew into her being prostituted out,” he recalled. “In some dump in downtown Las Vegas.”
He was one of many who spoke on the importance of awareness and prevention at an event held in Henderson.
“I think it’s really important to have prevention,” Henderson City Councilwoman Carrie Cox said, “And the best way is to educate and to make them aware.”
Cox co-hosted the gathering with Las Vegas City Councilwoman Victoria Seaman on Thursday. Survivors and advocates also attended an educational presentation on the steps predators take to groom and traffic both kids and adults.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline shows Nevada has the third highest rate across the nation.
Experts said teenagers are easily targeted on social media, which is why Henderson Police Chief Hollie Chadwick told 8 News Now it’s important to spread awareness.
“Any event we can have to highlight these issues,” Chief Chadwick said. “And prevent people from becoming victimized.”
She also wants parents to talk to their kids and know when something doesn’t seem right.
“Parents really need to pay attention to social media,” Chief Chadwick continued. “That’s where it seems to spark an interest, or people should know who their kids are talking to on any internet outlets.”
Many are now brave enough to share their stories, including trafficking survivor and founder of the Be a She-Ro Foundation, Kimberly Miles.
“People need to stop being sad and start being mad,” Miles said. “To make a difference for our community.”
“I was able to get out of the life,” she continued. “And became an advocate.”
She and others affected want others to know that this can happen to anyone here locally and around the world.
“The isolation that these people do is incredible,” a local father affected concluded. “It’s real and I had no idea it was going on.”
Chief Chadwick said the department partners with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to stop trafficking with a local task force.
Experts said while international trafficking is an issue, they mainly see teenagers from Las Vegas and California fall victim.