Sex Trafficking in the Metro
Sex Trafficking in the MetroPhoto: Video by kmtv.com
CREATED May. 22, 2013
Omaha, NE - Imagine being trapped in a nightmare. "It felt like weeks, I was exhausted I was terrified."
That's how Monica describes two days of hell; trapped and forced into prostitution.
"Every time you sell yourself, you sell your soul and you know you're not the same person that you used to be."
Monica isn't her real name, we are protecting her identity. She tells me five days before her 20th birthday an old friend lured her into a car, with a pimp.
"They looked over my body and then pretty much immediately posted a post on Craigslist. By the time I got to the hotel, they actually had it up and running."
They took her to a Council Bluffs motel and forced her to have sex with clients.
"He took my phone, he took my wallet. He took everything." For two days, someone else controlled her life.
You might not believe it. You might not see it, but the signs of sex trafficking are out there. Kids, teens even adults are stolen off the streets and roped into prostitution rings every day.
Right here, in the metro.
"I had no idea that stuff was going on. I'm from council bluffs, my hometown, TJ High School."
Dan McGinn helps train counselors, cops, social workers and many others to see the signs of sex trafficking.
"Groups can get together, approach kids that are estranged from their family situation, kids that are vulnerable, and basically recruit them to become runaways, they get control of them", adds McGinn.
McGinn only recently learned sex trafficking is a big problem here and it isn't just on the street.
"What's happening is, with the advent of Facebook and social media, it has become a tool for people that want to do sex trafficking. There's a big market for this, there's a lot of money to be made."
The web makes it easy for prostitution operations to target their prey. The bad guys look for teens venting about their home life on Facebook or Twitter.
"They have you know all their commodities right there at their fingertips. You can send 100 text messages or instant messages or Facebook messages and statistically, 1, 2, 5 or 10 of those girls will respond."
FBI Special Agent Anna Brewer can't show her face on TV. She investigates crimes against children. She says there's a steady stream of trafficking cases in the area being investigated by the FBI.
"I think it's always been a problem in the greater Omaha area. It's a problem nationwide. I think that often times people think that it doesn't happen in their communities."
Brewer and McGinn say it is real and sometimes it happens right in front of you.
"On a Friday night, at a high school football game, one of the most innocent places you can imagine. Teens have been recruited here, at Papio-La Vista high School right in front of parents. A recruiter will be good looking, clean cut. He's romancing teens. While it may look innocent this person is persuading your child to leave."
After two days in that Council Bluffs motel, Monica found a way out.
"Walked right up to the clerk, acted like I was asking her a question. I told her I needed help, I told her I was being held against my will and I needed her to contact the police. She hid me behind the wall behind the desk."
Looking back, Monica has come a long way.
"God only gives you what you can handle. It may seem a lot at the time, but you'll be so much of a better person once you get out of it."
She now has a new job, a newborn and a new life.