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Law Enforcement Discusses Human Trafficking



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Ten people have received life sentences for sex trafficking in the United States. Two of those sentences are being served right here in South Dakota. And with another case of human trafficking reported over the weekend, law enforcement gathered Wednesday to see how they can keep others from becoming the next victim.
 
“They are groomed, like how a pedophile would groom their victim. They are initially treated really kind and then once the girl starts working for the pimp they are beaten, they are raped, they are threatened," South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson explained.

 Imagine being 13-years-old and having that happen to you, or someone you know. U.S. Attorney Johnson said in the state of South Dakota, that has happened to over 100 women ages 13 to 30.
Johnson also said nearly five years ago human trafficking was nonexistent in the state. That was until Brandon Thompson of Tea received life in prison after being found guilty of it.

 "We had hoped that would be an isolated incident, but the fact of it is we've seen more and more of it in South Dakota," Johnson said.
      
To combat the problem, Lt. Derek Prestridge, from the Texas Department of Public Safety was brought in to teach local law enforcement how to spot the signs of human trafficking. Prestridge said the easiest way to identify a suspicious situation is having conversations and building a rapport with the possible victims or suspects.
     
"Basically do a welfare check on the children and also checking the responses given by the children and the adults,” Prestridge said.

Johnson said although law enforcement has been trained in this already, having new information, from an outside source will hopefully help keep people safe.

“So what might start appear to be a regular domestic call to a home, or a random traffic stop can sometimes expand into much more, if we know what we are looking for," Johnson said.

Johnson wants to remind the public that they can help stop human trafficking too. He said calling the police with tips if you see something suspicious is extremely helpful, and your information will stay confidential.
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