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Human trafficking in DFW: The modern day slave trade

Human trafficking in DFW: The modern day slave trade

September 17
17:40 2016

A lecturer from 4 The One spoke about sex trafficking in Dallas-Fort Worth at Denton Bible Thursday, in what was the second of a four-part series to educate locals about the unseen dangers today’s youth face.

Dennis Ozment, executive director of 4 The One, told the 100 citizens in attendance that the sex trafficking of children does happen in Denton, but is less visible compared to other cities. He also said many trafficked children are only reported as missing, or as runaways, which makes it difficult to nail down accurate numbers.

“While we only have 27 backpage ads in Denton, it’s not the hundreds we see in Dallas,” Ozment said. “It’s just more hidden here. Many cases are prostitution and trafficking.”

These “back page [advertisements]” are those easily seen in free tabloid-style newsweeklies. The last few pages of the publications contain ads for dates, and massages, but aren’t typically what they seem, Ozment said. In addition to the ads in weeklies, pimps will post ads for trafficked girls on popular social websites and apps.

There have been 280 ads featuring young girls in the last 30 days on the popular app MeetMe. There have been 124 ads for young girls on Seeking Arrangements, and 131 ads for girls ages 18-22 years old on sugardaddy.com.

“I’ve seen prices range from $100 – $450,” Ozment said. “On those websites, you don’t see naked girls, you see nice dressed girls. You see girls that are ready to go one dates. That’s how they get around it, by listing ads for dates.”

4 The One is an organization that focuses on finding missing teens. The organization uses social media and other tactics, like contacting phone numbers that the teens contacted before they went missing.

The presentation detailed that Dallas alone has 6,000 missing runaway children cases. Since 2014, Lewisville has had 170 missing youths, and two confirmed cases of trafficking. In that same period of time, Denton has 311 missing youth cases, and zero confirmed cases of trafficking.

“There is no one stereotypical trafficking victim, there is no stereotypical family that this happens to,” Ozment said. “It could be anybody.”

Mark Kourson, who retired in April after being a reserve officer for 17 years at the Denton Police Department, said he came to the event with Lori Trammell because the issue has personally affected them both.

“The chances of finding the kids [as a cop] are slim to none,” Kourson said. “Law enforcement can’t do this alone.”

Trammell added that anyone who doesn’t think this is happening in their neighborhood are living in a fairy tale.

“Communities are in denial, they want to think this is a Chicago problem, or a Dallas problem, but it’s everywhere,” she said. “Families in the middle of this need to know there is someone out there to help them. We’ve got to do better as a community, we’ve got to do better as a nation.”

Ozment said his organization uses social media to help locate missing teens, because every minute they are out in the world alone, “they are closer to being victimized.” He explained that police don’t put out an Amber Alert every time a child goes missing; because there are so many that it would become “white noise” to the public. He said typically Amber Alerts are issued when a child is seen being forced into a vehicle, or being abducted in some way.

He urges those who think they see something suspicious to call 911, or the national trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.

“Don’t be afraid to call and have it be nothing because you could be the call that saves somebody from months of trafficking,” he said, as his voiced cracked.

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Tiffany Ditto

Tiffany Ditto

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