Created: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 06:17:00 MST
Updated: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 06:33:53 MST
Youth and Family Services Western Prevention Resource Center co-sponsored a presentation on human and child sex trafficking at Camp Rapid Thursday focusing on recent child sex trafficking cases in South Dakota and indicators that local law enforcement personnel look for.
South Dakota is ranked as one of the worst states for protecting children from child trafficking according to several non-profit groups.
The presentation was held to better educate the public on human and child sex trafficking in South Dakota.
"I think that human trafficking is something that people here in South Dakota aren't aware occurs here, we are a smaller community and yet we have kids and people even adults that are being trafficked and it is a very traumatic thing," said Joy Solano, a Community Representative and Intake Therapist at Youth and Family Services.
Bringing in local law enforcement personnel and a special agent with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation to shed light on the issue.
"It is such a relevant topic and we have had a lot of requests to bring this in," said LaVonne L. Ackerman, the Coordinator at Youth and Family Services Western Prevention Resource Center.
Special Agent Brent Gromer says he has been able to arrest numerous people in South Dakota on sex trafficking charges. These charges can go up to a Class 2 felony.
"Through several different prostitution stings that have occurred in Rapid City we have seen that there is certainly a demand in South Dakota and we have tried to addressed those through different enforcement actions," said Gromer.
Events like these bringing awareness to the community.
"Feedback has been very positive and I think that people are very grateful that we have these resources available locally and don't have to travel," said Solano.
With social media including Facebook and Craigslist used by criminals to draw people into the industry, law enforcement says big possible indicators of a victim is physical injury, and that they rely on information provided by the public, social services and school counselors.
"As far as other law enforcement agencies, we run the Internet Crimes Against Children unit through the Division of Criminal Investigation and have several other law enforcement agencies as affiliates that we work together with other local and county law enforcement agencies," said Gromer.
US Representative Kristi Noem has co-sponsored a number of anti-trafficking bills that she expects to be voted on this spring.