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Combating human trafficking

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Human trafficking is often thought of as a problem outside of the United States. The truth is, human trafficking is present throughout the United States and even here in Colorado Springs.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Millions of men, women and children are trafficked into forced labor situations and into the sex trade worldwide each year. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with false promises of well-paying jobs; instead, they are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other types of forced labor.

In 2014, the Colorado Springs Police Department human trafficking unit was busy tackling the commercial sex trade in El Paso County, making 22 arrests and participating in the dismantling of several illicit massage parlors. According to CSPD, the unit made 47 misdemeanor arrests, including of 17 "johns" and 17 "pimps." Additionally, they recovered 70 juvenile and adult victims.

CSPD has recently implemented a new procedure to attempt to reduce the demand for human trafficking in the local area. Since April 2015, anyone convicted of soliciting sex from a prostitute will now have their name and photo publicly released. CSPD's human trafficking division says that research shows that publicizing the identities of the men who solicit prostitutes has proven to be effective in reducing the demand for commercialized sex.

As a member of the Colorado Springs community, you can assist the victims of this crime by reporting trafficking activity. Contact 21st Security Forces Squadron Investigations at 556-7060 to report trafficking behavior, or go to http://www.ice.gov/human-trafficking for more information.

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