We're going to spend a moment talking about the sex trade in South Dakota. If you think there isn't one, consider this....in the last eight months, four men have been indicted in federal court on charges of running wide spread, commercial sex operations here in South Dakota. And the state's top federal prosecutor told me this afternoon, this is a problem that is not going to go away.
About three years, a man from Chicago named Brandon Thompson...was living in this home in Tea. His business was on-line sex. He recruited young women from the area to work as prostitutes for him.....he was their pimp. He offered the women on-line and men from the area responded.....and the exchange of cash for sex was underway.
"Once they got into this ring it was impossible for them to leave. Thompson made it virtually impossible for them to leave." United States Attorney Brendan Johnson tells me Thompson used gifts to entice they young women....then violence and threats of violence to keep them from leaving. And it has happened again; at least four instances since last May. All are active cases. and Johnson tells me, without a doubt...there will be more attempts to establish prostitution rings in South Dakota down the road. "What I do know is that it will happen in the future again. There is no way to completely take this out of all of our communities."
Johnson says in the past, these types of rings have specifically targeted young women attending Sioux Falls' high schools. That in itself is troubling. But now, the recruitment efforts have expanded. "We've also seen recent immigrants into the community that this has happened to. We've seen disabled individuals who have been sucked into these commercial sex trafficking rings."
Our communities most vulnerable: the young, the poor, the disabled...all being treated like property by those who would fill their pockets with the profits of sex. And one of the tools these pimps are using: the Internet...which provides them with names, pictures and locations for possible recruits.. And that fact prompts a serious warning from the United States Attorney. "We need to know what our kids are doing on the Internet. And also we need to be parents and we need to act like parents. we need to act like mothers and fathers."
And perhaps the most sobering question you can ask yourself tonight if you're a parent is this: if your child has been on-line tonight...do you know who they have been communicating with? If not....the U-S Attorney's office says you might want to find out.
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