Law enforcement officers gather to discuss sex trafficking - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcement officers gather in Sioux Falls to discuss sex trafficking

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Sex trafficking continues to be a growing problem here in South Dakota.

And law enforcement officers across the state got together in Sioux Falls Wednesday to talk about stopping sex crimes against children and adults.

They hope that by sharing information and sharing stories, they can help each other to learn how to deal with sex trafficking in our state.

We sat down with Brendan Johnson, the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, to talk about the victims of these crimes.

Sex crimes are on the rise in South Dakota as sexual predators recruit younger and younger victims.

"Often times, what we see with our victims is that we see young children that are homeless, or have substance abuse addictions, and they're vulnerable, they're in a vulnerable time in their life. and these predators look for that, they look for the vulnerable girls," Johnson said.

Law enforcement officers from across the state gathered in Sioux Falls to learn what they can do to stop sex crimes. But Johnson says they can't do it alone.

"We really rely on the community, letting law enforcement know when they're suspicious about something, something does not appear quite right, there are young girls going in and out of a house at all hours of the night, frankly that's how many of these cases originate," Johnson said.

But many sexual predators also hide behind their keyboards.

"The Internet has opened up new worlds in the area of commercial sex trafficking, because what it does is allow the pimp to communicate directly with literally hundreds and hundreds of people, throughout our region who are looking to have sex with children," Johnson said.

And for women caught up in prostitution, who may believe they have no one to turn to,  should turn to the police.

"What those women need to realize is that they are not criminals, and they are not going to be treated as criminals. They are victims and what we want to do is help them get out of this situation, and then hold that pimp accountable and bring that pimp to justice," Johnson said.

Johnson said they currently have one hundred child victims in the Sioux Falls area alone.

Having a conference like this helps to raise awareness, not only for law enforcement, but for all of us, to help protect our children.

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