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Billboards promote human trafficking awareness

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Billboards promote human trafficking awareness

By Bryan Callahan. CREATED Oct 29, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Experts estimate more than 27 million people worldwide are currently victims of human trafficking including some here in the Las Vegas Valley.

The state attorney general says the billboard campaign launched Tuesday morning is aimed at putting a stop to the sex and labor trafficking business.

"It is brutal, complex and widespread," Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said.

Masto is hoping a new billboard campaign will lead to more tips to get human trafficking victims off the street.

The space was donated by Clear Channel as a way to raise awareness of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, which received more than 20,000 calls last year.

"106 were from Las Vegas, and I will tell you it is under reported. We are hoping with this awareness campaign we will reach more of those victims that go unreported," Masto said.

With five billboards being seen by an estimated 1.6 million people a week, experts said the number of tips being called in should see a significant increase.

"The statistics coming out of the state of Texas are after they put up the billboards the number of calls to the hotline went up by four times," Robert Hoo with Nevadans for the Common Good said.

Metro is also eager to get the word out.

With two months left in the year, the 132 underage victims of sex trafficking the department has already identified this year has eclipsed the mark set in 2012.

"The numbers continue to go up. I would like to think that is because of community awareness and reporting," Lt. Karen Hughes said.

With 60-percent of those underage victims being recruited locally, Metro leaders said something has to be done before they fall into the wrong hands.

"We need to identify the risk factors and know they are potentially a high risk for a sex trafficker," Hughes said.

The program is expected to expand in January, when more billboards will be added to the campaign.

The group is also planning to place billboards in the Reno area as well.

Bryan Callahan

Bryan Callahan

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Bryan Callahan joined the Action News team as a general assignment reporter in August of 2013.