Child Exploitation in Western New York

An anonymous girl, trafficked as a teenager, writes an emotional poem —

Your pleasure, My pain.
No it’s not a game.
Nothing can face me.
No one knows my name.
Where did she go?
What did she do?
Wondering when it’s over.
Looking over your shoulder in the dead of the night, ready for the fight.
Wondering what would come.

She’s one of about 300 trafficking survivors found in the western New York State region in the last five years. Amy Fleischauer, with the International Institute of Buffalo, explains “There are various industries — the restaurant business, hotels and motels, we see them in agricultural cases that’s certainly a significant industry where we see human trafficking. The construction business.” Victims include children who come with their families from other countries, local boys and girls recruited online and those pimped out by someone they trust.

The FBI now has a new group of agents here in Buffalo, only focusing on the exploitation of children. The squad’s Supervisory Special Agent, Jason Jaragin, says “The FBI and the Western New York Region has seen instances where children were exploited for sexual gain — monetary gain — in an enterprise type operation.” Predators have even infiltrated school systems in Western New York. The latest trend for predators is finding victims through gaming. Jaragin says “We have all these gaming sites where there’s all these interactions, all this role play. Children can be easily enticed.”

Signs of trafficking include large groups of people hanging out in unusual areas during odd hours. Victims are rarely seen without their captors and are afraid to talk to the public. If you see anything suspicious you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or the local FBI office at 716-856-7800.

Learn more at Rachel Elzufon’s WKBW TV news article: Federal Agents Crack Down on Child Exploitation in WNY.

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