News Center 7 reporter joins undercover investigators in attack on human trafficking – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

MONTGOMERY COUNTY – As part of this statewide campaign, Montgomery County has launched its new Miami Valley Human Trafficking Task Force.

“We are learning exactly what we thought is that we have a problem,” Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck told Molly Koweek of the I-Team.

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News Center 7 was the only team there as local, state and federal investigators went into hiding in southern Montgomery County to find human traffickers and their victims.

“You always hear that prostitution is a victimless crime. This is not true. There isn’t a single piece of this that is true, ”Streck said.

He explained that last week’s initiative was the first major operation of his new task force.

“This whole week has been spent trying to bring those involved in human trafficking to justice,” Streck said.

In Ohio, data from the Human Trafficking Institute shows the need for such services. There has been a steady increase in cases since 2008.

“It’s such a big problem that we can do it 24 hours a day, 365 days a week,” Streck said.

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Last week, the I-Team watched the task force work to combat human trafficking. Investigators would set up meetings with people who agreed to pay for sex acts, then pose as a client or prostitute to lure them into a house.

While the I-Team was there, investigators arrested three people.

Streck explained that his new task force is focused on helping victims.

“When someone comes and we accuse them of prostitution it won’t be a shame for you, you are bad for what you do,” Streck said. It’s gonna be, ‘what’s going on? How did we get here? And how can we help you? ‘ “

The sheriff said it meant securing resources for victims, such as working with mental health professionals, reconnecting them with family and friends, and helping with substance abuse issues.

“It is very difficult to get someone to come forward and say ‘no, I was forced to live this lifestyle’ because they are terrified of going through withdrawal or a limb. their family if they hurt, ”Streck said.

He explained that although some of the victims are from the Miami Valley, they usually come from outside the region.

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Whether it’s a strip club business, an escort business, prostitution, all of that, most of the time what they do is move them through. the country so that they don’t become safe where they are, ”Streck said. .

He said human trafficking occurs in all parts of the county.

“Economic status doesn’t matter,” Streck said.

What matters, the sheriff said, is helping those in need and using the laws already in place to prosecute human traffickers.

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