FBI finds 7 juveniles involved in sex trafficking in Milwaukee area
Milwaukee's been called a 'sex trafficking hub' by people who are working to fix the problem.
The FBI is releasing results of a recent effort to rescue victims and round up the traffickers.
"Human trafficking is something where someone is forced into a prostitution environment through threats of force, fear, intimidation..." said Robert Botsch, a special agent with the FBI.
Botsch says last week his office teamed up with Milwaukee Police as part of a yearly nationwide crackdown on human trafficking called Operation Cross Country.
"Milwaukee historically has always ranked in the top three for Operation Cross Country which is significant because again the main target of this is the recovery of juveniles which are engaged in human sex trafficking." Botsch said.
During last week’s effort; five people under 18 involved in sex trafficking were found in Milwaukee, and two others in West Allis.
Botsch said, "Just within our area of Milwaukee metropolitan area there were multiple different strategies that were used to try and locate these underage people. We did street operations, we did hotel operations where we made telephone calls to bring people to us, we worked truck stops... "
Nine juveniles total were found statewide.
"It could be a runaway. It could be someone who does live at home with their parents and does have a boyfriend that is out trafficking them." Botsch said.
Between Milwaukee, Racine, Oak Creek, and West Allis; 39 adults and four traffickers were also found and arrested.
Last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the creation of a statewide task force to combat the sex trafficking trade in the state.
Schimel said, "Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery and has powerful links to drug and violent crime. The creation of this task force is an important step in developing a comprehensive response to combat this problem and to achieve our goals of freeing the victims, getting them the help they need, and ensuring their oppressors aren't able to victimize others."
Botsch says the victims found last week will go through treatment to help them return to a normal life
The offenders will be charged locally, then potentially become part of a federal case.
The Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children is a website run by the Wisconsin Department of Justice; it shows people who are missing, and may be victims of human trafficking.
Many Wisconsin law enforcement departments were involved in the FBI's Operation Cross Country. They include; Milwaukee Police Department, West Allis Police Department, Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department, Oak Creek Police Department, West Milwaukee Police Department, Village of Brown Deer Police Department, Menominee Falls Police Department, Germantown Police Department, Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, Racine Police Department, Racine County Sheriff's Office, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Kenosha Police Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, The Wisconsin FBI Human Trafficking Task Force and the Milwaukee Child Exploitation Task Force.