The crime of sex trafficking is escalating in Nebraska, with as many as 900 online postings statewide each month.
Glen Parks is coordinator of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force and an Assistant Nebraska Attorney General. Parks is talking to city leaders around the state about the growing list of problems associated with sex trafficking.
“If an officer pulls over someone who’s speeding and he has drugs in the front seat, you throw the bum in jail and you put the drugs in the evidence locker and you go home and do the paperwork tomorrow, right?” Parks says. “If the illegally obtained substance is a human being, you can’t throw that in an evidence locker. It’s really important that law enforcement has an existing, close relationship with service providers, so that when this happens, if it’s 3 in the morning, they know what to do with those human beings who are probably at the most vulnerable moment in their lives.”
Former FBI agent Anna Brewer is now a training consultant for the Women’s Fund of Omaha. The organization is researching the upturn in trafficking. Brewer says they’re partnering with computer experts at Creighton University to do data mining.
“Eighty percent of sex trafficking happens on the internet now,” Brewer says. “It’s not the traditional girl that walks down the street and a car pulls over and she jumps in. It’s all online. You can sit in the privacy of your home and just using your cell phone, order up a human being and buy someone.”
Brewer says some Nebraska youth are engaging in what she calls “survival sex.”
“Sex in exchange for a cheeseburger, that’s human trafficking,” she says. “Sex in exchange for a ride to Lincoln, that’s human trafficking. Sex in exchange for anything of value is human trafficking.”
Brewer, who investigated sex crimes against children for two decades, says today’s sex worker can make as much as $200 an hour and younger workers generally earn even more.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice