They used brute force, threatened the lives of prostitutes’ children or parents and grandparents and plied them with drugs.
They isolated them by moving them from city to city.
Communities need to shore up programs that help the poor, runaways and struggling families.“I’m not saying you can eradicate this — it’s biblical,” he said.“But if you want to reduce the victim population, you have to work on these things.”Contact the writer: [email protected], 402-444-1136, twitter.com/Erin Grace OWH Sister Kathleen Erickson, 73, spent five weeks primarily in San Pedro Sula, a city of about 800,000 in Honduras that for at least two years has topped a list of most dangerous places to live outside the Middle East. It’s when someone is forced, coerced or tricked into the underground commercial sex trade against her or his will.These victims are hidden in plain sight whether online or squirreled away in an apartment on the quiet street where Dawn and her 13-year-old friend were held captive. The trouble started when Dawn — her middle name — experimented with alcohol as an eighth-grader. She also figured these were people who knew how to get around the law. His aunt told her how to slip off the ankle bracelet using butter. Then she shoved clothes, shoes and her flat iron into three bags and called for a ride. on New Year’s Day 2010 when friends dropped off Dawn and her friend in the alley behind a house belonging to Merrideth Crane-Horton and her husband, Nate Horton. The girls were taken to a studio apartment a few blocks away. The younger john, who was at one time the nation’s top short-track car racer, was sentenced to eight to 16 years. The 13-year-old wound up in foster care, where she remains. Dawn spent that first week after the car crash at a Council Bluffs detention center before being returned to her Bellevue home. She bounced around schools and dropped out, eventually earning her GED. She spent three months in Geneva, Nebraska, at a youth detention facility for girls. Things started to change when Dawn, now 19, bumped into a former algebra classmate from middle school. In 2003 the FBI helped start a national anti-trafficking initiative that teams federal and local resources to arrest pimps and rescue prostitutes, especially minors. In 2012 the Nebraska Legislature created a task force to study the issue.Yet the victims are hard to help and the traffickers hard to catch. She broke curfew and butted heads with her mother and stepfather so much that the courts intervened and called her ungovernable. Merrideth, then 31, stood 6-foot-2 and weighed more than 200 pounds. Nate was strong — Dawn had watched him lift alleyway dumpsters. They all went to the supermarket to get hair dye, then to Walmart for frozen pizza. It had a couch, an old TV and a twin-size bed.“You know what you have to do,” Merrideth said. ”Dawn figured Merrideth meant sell drugs — something Dawn was OK with if it meant she could stay. Then Dawn realized Merrideth wanted the girls to sell something else: themselves. This past year social service agencies and churches have added the fight against sex trafficking to their causes.Dawn was made to wear an ankle bracelet for monitoring. C.-based research group, said that no reliable figures exist for a variety of reasons: the reluctance of victims to come forward, the lack of uniform reporting of sex trafficking crimes and the difficulty of prosecuting those cases in federal court. The Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, created by state law, has been meeting for two years. The local office did say it is currently investigating about five dozen cases involving child exploitation, cyber child pornography and sex trafficking.
She was under house arrest, which meant she couldn’t go anywhere but school at Bellevue East and home. This group has tapped a pair of University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors to attempt to get a statewide measure of sex trafficking. There’s been little intersection with the FBI task force, which is the primary law-enforcement arm looking into sex trafficking. One of its three victim specialists has seen her prostitution caseload increase from 169 sex trafficking victims in 2011 to 382 so far this fiscal year, which ends Sept. Since 2011, this specialist has served 1,342 victims. A Carter Lake man, arrested in 2010 for running a two-state prostitution ring, promoted his business during the CWS.
It includes Special Agent Anna Brewer, who has been the public face on this issue, appearing at churches and service clubs. Since 2012 the Omaha-based FBI district, which includes Nebraska and Iowa, has arrested five pimps and made contact with 15 more; arrested 42 johns; and arrested 68 prostitutes and made contact with 80 more in Omaha. But arrest figures did not appear to spike during the series in the past two years, and the head of the FBI’s anti-trafficking task force said recently he didn’t think there was a big connection.
Behind the scenes, Brewer assists local prostitution stings, arranges for payment to local law enforcement for their overtime on these stings, investigates cases and helps, where possible, bring federal cases to court. Operation Cross Country happened to coincide this year with the College World Series, when churches and advocacy groups said sex trafficking would be flourishing outside TD Ameritrade Park. Omaha police arrests for prostitution are down — something that Detective Amber Schlote said could account for how the market has shifted from the streets to the Internet, where interrupting the sex trade is harder.
Although it’s easy to find prostitutes online through websites such as Backpage, pimps have gotten tech-savvy and formed their own online networks that warn about police presence and screen for cops.
The lower number of arrests, Schlote said, also signifies a changing mindset about how to deal with prostitutes.“Instead of throwing them in jail,” she said, “let’s ask them a few questions.”This approach attempts to drill down to one of the roots of the crime: a controlling, abusive boss.
One 6-foot-4, 250-pound pimp whipped prostitutes with a belt, choked them and performed strip searches to control them.