Victims of human trafficking are often the most vulnerable in our communities – victims of abuse and violence, runaways, refugees, immigrants or those who are homeless.
Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world and sadly, our Kentucky communities are not immune.
In Kentucky, both adults and children are coerced into illegal sex trafficking, domestic servitude and forced labor – they are being bought, sold and smuggled like modern-day slaves and they need our help.
That is why as attorney general my office is doing all we can to stop this dark and horrendous crime.
This year, working jointly with other law enforcement agencies throughout the state, my office was involved in 30 arrests on charges involving human trafficking and other related offenses.
We teamed up with the Louisville Metro Police Department and advocacy organizations in Louisville to carry out a successful anti-human trafficking operation during this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Over the course of two-days in May, the joint-operation resulted in eight people being arrested and charged with promoting human trafficking and other crimes.
Several months earlier, we arrested two Louisville men and a Louisville woman on human trafficking charges involving two 16-year-old girls, and in a separate case, a Kansas man who attempted to purchase a Kentucky child for $250 and 7 grams of methamphetamine.
We also secured the guilty plea of a Lawrenceburg man in March on human trafficking charges and in April, we secured a 20-year sentence of former Campbell County District Judge and local school board member Timothy Nolan on numerous felony charges, including human trafficking.
And just last month we arrested a London man for allegedly agreeing to exchange cash for sex with a minor.
Our Office of Victims Advocacy provides direct advocacy services to victims of trafficking as they work to navigate the legal system and find healing and recovery from the trauma.
My Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution operates to assist victims, prosecutors and law enforcement across the state in identifying and responding to these cases and leads the efforts of the Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce.
Our efforts continue with our partner Catholic Charities of Louisville. Together we received a federal grant, which has allowed us to hire the state’s first full-time human trafficking investigator, train more than 4,000 law enforcement officers, health care employees, first responders, inspectors, and community members across the state and release the 2017 Human Trafficking Task Force Report.
A training initiative for hotel, hospitality and tourism workers began in the spring of 2016 in partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the state’s hotel and tourism associations, Catholic Charities of Louisville and Free 2 Hope. All hotel employees can now identify and report human trafficking.
The office has collaborated with Louisville-based survivor-led organization Women of the Well as well as the Kristy Love Foundation Survivor House, a survivor-led, trauma-informed program that provides comprehensive services to women suffering from addiction, prostitution and human trafficking. Founder Angela Renfro and I continue to team up to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Part of our work to combat trafficking is to help Kentuckians understand how to identify trafficking victims and report the crime.
While there is no one single indicator of human trafficking, a combination of various signs are common in victims, including individuals who are traveling together and have identical tattoos or branding.
Human traffickers are violent criminals who disconnect victims from family, friends and community organizations, and child victims often stop attending school.
While not all victims are moved or travel, victims may not know what town or state they are in or the address of where they are staying.
Victims frequently have multiple pre-paid credit cards and cellular phones, but lack official identification documents and personal possessions.
I urge you to share this information with your friends and family and in your community – and if you notice these signs take action. If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger dial 911.
Kentuckians have a moral and legal duty to report any instances of child abuse.
If a child is involved in commercial sexual activity, including prostitution, stripping or pornography, he or she is a victim of human trafficking under Kentucky law. If human trafficking of a child is suspected, report it to Kentucky’s Child Protection Hotline at 877-KYSAFE1.
Reports of suspicious activity may also be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll free at 888-373-7888 or via free SMS text at 233733. The hotline also serves victims seeking support and services. The humantraffickinghotline.org website also offers online chatting. Interpreters are available.
Any adult or child can fall prey to the manipulative recruitment and grooming tactics of traffickers.
I urge all Kentuckians to join our fight by helping us identify victims and report the crime.