“Often times when people think of human trafficking they contemplate sweat shops in Malaysia or brothels in Bangkok. But the fact of the matter is that the human trafficking epidemic has metastasized to the point that we find it here in the heartland,” U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said. “There is no community in South Dakota that is immune to human trafficking.”
The new human trafficking task force will be a joint effort between his office, the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux Falls police, the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations.
The first step in combating human trafficking is raising awareness about the issue, Johnson said. “It’s important to remember that each victim is unique and there is no set of circumstances that can be generalized,” he said, although there are risk factors that officials often see. Those risk factors include being female, ranging in age from 13 to 30 and coming from predominantly low-income homes, often with one or both parents absent. Many of the victims endured abuse or neglect as children and suffered from drug addiction and homelessness. Some were struggling to care for family members, including young children.
The task force will meet regularly and ensure that intelligence between federal and state governments is shared, Johnson said.
Learn more at Kristi Eaton’s San Francisco Chronicle article: Creation of human trafficking task force announced.