Las Vegas groups on front lines in human trafficking fight

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Human trafficking is the fastest-growing crime in the world, experts say. As the problem gets bigger, so do the efforts to stop it.

The Salvation Army says it’s been fighting against human trafficking for years.

A recent report highlights dozens of anti-trafficking programs across the nation, including in the Las Vegas valley.

Leslee Rogers, public relations director for the Salvation Army, said, “We probably see 100 to 130 or 140 clients.”

“They don’t get to choose for themselves what they’re going to do,” Rogers said. “Someone is telling them that.”

The organization has a program called Seeds of Hope, which provides food, clothing and shelter to victims of human trafficking. But most stay for the long-term assistance.

“We work with them in the areas of counseling and emotional support, legal support, legal aid, those kinds of things,” Rogers said.

The Salvation Army works closely with the Southern Nevada Human Trafficking Task Force, which is led by the FBI. Just last month through “Operation Independence Day,” the FBI said it found 14 teen-agers who agents believe were sex trafficking victims in Las Vegas.

Experts say young people are a growing target.

“We know that roughly 30,000 sex workers are on call every night here in Las Vegas, and we believe 10 percent of them are kids, minors, 17 and under,” said Kevin Malone, president of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.

And because a lot of the trafficking is now initiated online, technology is being used to catch criminals.

One program described by Geoff Rogers, CEO of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, uses artificial intelligence to catch them.

“At one point, it says stop … I just want to let you know I’m not a person. I’m a computer. I know your name. I know your phone number. We’re going to get your address off the Internet, and we may turn this information over to the police,” Rogers said.

As new campaigns pop up across the valley, including bus stop posters and roadside billboards, the Salvation Army wishes the same thing for all victims: “A full and happy life moving forward,” said Leslee Rogers of the Salvation Army.

If you suspect that someone is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

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