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Sex-Trafficking in Salt Lake City

Gabriella Neves

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“It would never happen to me.”

Most people don’t expect to be a victim of sex-trafficking. Especially not in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“These cases aren’t rare, we’re seeing more and more of them within Utah,” said an FBI agent who spoke with 2News. “The problem is in Utah, people don’t want to think it’s

happening, or don’t think this is going on in their own states and [SIC] it is.”

The agency has arrested 24 sex-traffickers of juvenile’s in the last five years, but despite this Utah is

still a destination drawing sex traffickers because they think they can work without much suspicion.

“A lot of pimps, from intelligence that we gather choose to come to Salt Lake City because they think

it’s a sleepy town, they think that people don’t think it’s happening here, that they won’t get caught.”

[SIC]

Many victims are lured from broken homes by a sex trafficker promising a better life.

“No girl chooses to wake up one day and choose to be involved in sex trafficking or prostitution,

they’re [SIC] something that’s occurred in a girl’s life that has made her get into [sex trafficking],”

the agent said. “These girls see it as a way out from either their living conditions [SIC] or their family

situation [SIC] or they have nowhere else to go, so it’s better than the situation that they’re in.”

Most recently, the FBI has found that pimps are finding their victims online rather than at parks or

near schools, which were previously popular spots.

“They stroll through social media looking for these girls, a girl that looks attractive or looks pretty that

they think they can make money off of. They are recruiting her and brain washing her,” the agent

said.

Backpage.com

The FBI closely monitors a website that they say is used almost exclusively to advertise prostitutes. In

Utah, the site fills with ads on a daily basis of girls advertising themselves for sex. Many of the girls

advertising on the website are posting several times per day; to get their search results towards the

top as they compete with other prostitutes.

The site’s creator was recently arrested in California, but as his case is still determined the site still

operates.

Prevention

Possibly the best way to stop sex trafficking in Utah is to educate and protect kids. Much of that

responsibility falls on parents. Often times, predators will create false social media accounts and add

children they find nearby. Parents are encouraged to teach their kids to not accept friend request or

followers that the child does not know in person. But often times, the victim’s parents are not

involved in the child’s life, or are distant, and that can create vulnerability. Due to this issue, teens and

children are also taught about safe internet use, but many ignore the warnings.

There are several resources to prevent and report suspected sex trafficking:

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888

FBI Salt Lake City Office: 801-579-1400

polarisproject.org

tips.fbi.gov

www.missingkids.org/cybertipline

www.backyardbroadcast.org

 

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MHS Student News
Sex-Trafficking in Salt Lake City