Iowa at Crossroads for Sex Trafficking

A sobering fact is that the very location of Iowa makes it the most dangerous place in the United States for the sex-trafficking of children, mostly young girls ages 11 to 14.

Iowa is the perfect hiding place for this crime due to several factors, according to Michael Ferjak of the Iowa attorney general’s office: a low per capita presence of law enforcement, located in the center of the country, at the crossroads of Interstate Highway 35 and Interstate 80, an easy way to arrive and disappear fast in four directions. Vans and trucks carrying trafficked young girls pass through Iowa regularly, moving from motels to truck stops to strip clubs and other locales.

It’s been shown through online monitoring by law enforcement that when business conventions occur, and during the Iowa State Fair, traffic on sites offering “escorts,” “wild girls” or “good times” intensifies with the goal of selling girls in Iowa. A single Internet search found more than 200 escort services operating in Iowa. In fact, federal statistics note that trafficking is one of the world’s fastest-growing organized crime activities, second only to drugs, and surpassing the sale of guns and other weapons.

Under direction of the Iowa attorney general, a statewide task force was created to address this critical issue, and the Chrysalis Foundation is a lead participant. The Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prevention Initiative, led by Michael Ferjak, intends to build public awareness and prevention, identify and prosecute traffickers, and restore the lives of victims of human trafficking in Iowa. Its moniker, “Operation Detour,” works to make Iowa the most hostile state in the nation for human traffickers.

This is an urgent conversation whose time has come, with all of us who care about children taking a seat at the table.

Learn more at Marti Sivi’s The Des Moines Register article: Iowa View: State is at a crossroads for sex-trafficking.

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