VERDE VALLEY – Organized crime is often associated with drugs and weapons.
Add sex trafficking to that list.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Arizona saw a 14-percent increase in sex trafficking cases reported in 2016, making it the 14th highest state for such crimes.
Last week, Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with 18 other senators, introduced a bill — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act — that would make the prosecution of websites that host sex trafficking advertisements easier. The main target of the bill is the website Backpage.com, according to Sen. McCain.
McCain accused Backpage.com of facilitating “online sex trafficking and child exploitation, destroying the lives of innocent young women and girls,” McCain said in a written statement. “It is disgraceful that the law as written has protected Backpage from being held liable for enabling these horrific crimes.”
In 2015, a sting operation in the Verde Valley led to the arrest of 35 men who had tried to solicit sex from underage women. Today, the Verde Valley Coalition Against Human Trafficking has made efforts to reduce sex trafficking incidents through education. For the coalition, this means setting up a booth in busy areas, like the Cottonwood Recreation Center, and talking with passersby or giving presentations at organizations that will have them.
“If there’s lots of activity in big towns, like the Super Bowl comes to town or the Final Four, or just because it’s a big town and there’s lots of activity, we want to make sure that the traffickers don’t move up the I-17 into our communities, because they know there are a lot of naïve…
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