Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Girl is the New Drug - Human Trafficking in America

Street dealers and gang members aren't just selling drugs anymore. They've found a bigger business that's far more profitable. Now they're selling young girls and teens for sex.
How do we know for sure? Niine gang members have just been arrested in a massive human trafficking investigation in Illinois. The 35 page affidavit into the undercover operation called "Little Girl Lost" shows the scope of human trafficking in the United States involving American girls as young as 12 being sold into sex slavery.
"I've worked approximately 23 years in sheriff's department, the last 12 I've done child exploitation crimes and this is the worst with what we've seen, the beatings, the manipulation, the violence involved," said Cook County Sheriff's Dept. Vice Team Commander Mike Anton.
Investigators said that Katrina Zaia, 24, helped recruit the young women and girls, at least one of whom she met on a subway train.
The girls were drugged, threatened and beaten. Many were branded with tattoos, endured face slashings, and even forced in the trunks of cars for long periods as a form of punishment."In one case, we saw where a 13 year old girl was sold from one pimp to another for $100 and what we've noticed is gang members are loosely connected to each other and sell girls to each other," Alvarez said.
"In a few instances we actually have recorded instances of girls being beaten and abused which was difficult to investigate and listen to," Anton said.
Some of the girls were forced to find customers by what the pimps called "walking the track" or finding johns on the streets but many were prostituted off ads from the internet using websites like Craigslist or Backpage.
According to police records, Zaia reserved hotel rooms for the girls and even took them to their sex appointments, all while gang members collected thousands of dollars.
"Cases like these are not easy for investigators," said Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. "When young girls are involved, it pulls at your heart strings. I think this represent something greater in our own society and what it's about."

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