Dozens arrested following human trafficking stings in Sheboygan County, Kenosha

NOW: Dozens arrested following human trafficking stings in Sheboygan County, Kenosha


SHEBOYGAN COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) --  Dozens of people have been arrested as police in our area crack down on human trafficking.

Kenosha has historically been ripe for human traffickers, right along I-94.

Friday night, police in both Kenosha and Sheboygan got results after two undercover stings.

In today's underworld, Johns looking for hookups are finding them online.

Women who fall victim may see the lifestyle as their only way out of a bad financial situation.

"A lot of times it's somebody that you go to school with or a friend who, again, is not having those basic needs met, and it's somebody has taken advantage of that and is using that vulnerability to manipulate them," said Leslea Helgeson of Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County.

This week, a one-day multijurisdictional sting in Sheboygan County resulted in five arrests.

"Great effort between every law enforcement agency in our county. They had offered resources to help combat this, I guess, growing problem that we're seeing in our communities," said Cpt. Matt Spence.

All five are middle-aged men, two from Sheboygan County and three from close by.

Meanwhile, in Kenosha, investigators placed ads online in a two-day investigation. Twenty-two men were caught.

"And I guess it shows you how much demand is out there for the service," said Kenosha police Sgt. Leo Viola.

Kenosha's city ordinance previously only punished those trafficking victims. It now includes people paying for sex -- going after the market, not only the people operating it.

"They were all men, all adults, yes. They were all first-time offenders. It's a wide range of ages. You know, senior citizens all the way to younger adults," said Sgt. Viola.

Advocates say the best thing you can do is learn about the resources in your area and pass that information along to the suspected victim.

"We do a lot of work with gas stations and motels as being hot spots of where people can see those things, but again, somebody who doesn't have identification...there may be physical signs, bruising and stuff. They may seem malnourished or not clothed well," said Helgeson.

Know the warning signs of human trafficking. 

A sudden change in friends, being withdrawn, constantly checking their phone and not carrying identification can all be signs someone's fallen victim to human trafficking.

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