Human trafficking growing problem in the U.S.

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Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Chad Darnall

METROPOLIS, Ill.—The trade in humans.  Modern-day slavery is a growing problem.  Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of human traffickers.  You might not think human trafficking happens around here, but cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. states.

Law enforcement wants to take initiative and be proactive.  Today, about 60 members of law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney for Southern Illinois gathered in Metropolis at Harrah's Casino for a public forum.

It is all in an effort to raise awareness and help put an end to the growing crime.  Law enforcement was all eyes and ears as they learned about a crime that hides in the shadows, human trafficking.

The unknown is what concerns Metropolis Chief of Police Harry Masse.

"We deal with prostitution here in the city, but it makes you wonder how many were being forced into prostitution," said Masse.

U.S. Attorney for Southern Illinois Stephen Wigginton said the Local 6 area is at risk because of our major interstates.

"We've had cases in South Dakota, Florida, Georgia, truck stops in Texas and Oklahoma, just because you haven't found it in Paducah doesn't mean it doesn't exist," said Wigginton.

Masse said he will be ready to tackle one of the largest growing crimes in the world head-on.

"Our little world, our little turf we want to make sure our citizens are safe. It's part of being a policeman, you don't want crime going on under your nose," said Masse.

Keeping the highways and communities safe.

"If it isn't happening here, hopefully it never will because we will be aware of it," said Masse.

If you want to report suspected trafficking contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center or your local law enforcement.  Call 1 (888) 373-7888 or email NHTRC@PolarisProject.org.
 

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