Group will push for human trafficking task force in Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Group will push for human trafficking task force in Mississippi

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Human trafficking knows no boundaries. 

Victims can be children or adults, men or women. And it can happen anywhere, including Mississippi.

"Chained to trees," said Sandy Middleton, Center for Violence Prevention Executive Director. "Locked in car trunks. Starved, raped, anything you can think of had happened to those victims."

"It's an old problem with a new name," added Hinds County Investigator Dean Scott.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It involves the use of force, fraud or coercion for labor or commercial sex acts. Mississippi had a temporary task force to examine the problem. But now, they're in limbo.

"The state of Mississippi doesn't have a plan," explained Middleton. "We don't have a plan and we don't have any funding and most of our neighboring states are gearing up and forming operational task forces. And they're putting their money where their mouth is."

The Center for Violence Prevention organized a two day training to help law enforcement and victims service providers know how to spot the red flags.

"Trafficking exists at some level in just about every community in the country and it's been identified in every country in the world," noted John Vanek, a consultant with the Office for Victims of Crime. "It's a worldwide problem as well as a local problem."

But it's not as simple as saying we'll help victims out of the situation. Hinds County Investigator Dean Scott said it takes a mental reset for law enforcement to understand how to be the front line of defense.

"Instead of these victims being put in the system and treated as suspects," Scott described. "You know, you open your heart and open your mind."

Advocates will push for legislation and funding at the Capitol this year.

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