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Human Trafficking Reports on Rise in North Dakota

New numbers show reports of sex trafficking in North Dakota went up in 2015. (iStockphoto)
New numbers show reports of sex trafficking in North Dakota went up in 2015. (iStockphoto)
February 1, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. – Hotline calls about human trafficking are up in North Dakota.

Polaris, a nonprofit group that runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, fielded calls on 19 cases in 2015, three more than the year before.

This includes calls on 15 cases of sex trafficking and four about labor trafficking.

Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, says many times one case can involve several people who are being sold for sex.

"The thing that we're most concerned about in North Dakota are pimp-controlled escort services where a pimp takes control of a group of women and girls," he states.

Myles says these groups are usually based out of hotels and advertise for sex on websites such as Backpage.com.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota has been trying to crack down on the site, and has even been in talks with the Department of Justice about what can be done to stop the online ads.

Myles says the increased number of calls to the hotline could be the result of a state decision to require that the hotline number be posted at rest stops.

And while that's helpful, he says the hotline cases represent only a portion of the trafficking.

"We know that there are certain sex trafficking networks and other at-risk venues for labor trafficking in North Dakota,” he states. “We think it's promising that 19 cases were found, but we're not satisfied with that, we'd like to find more."

In January, North Dakota also started work on a "john school" to rehabilitate people who were arrested for attempting to buy sex. Supporters of the program say it will help avoid re-victimizing survivors of sex trafficking.






Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND