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Economic downturn sees uptick in possible sex trafficking recruitment

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Tuesday, the Child Trafficking Solutions Project and the Children’s Policy Cooperative of Jefferson County issued a statement warning that there is a noticeable increase in Craigslist postings for possible human trafficking purposes due to the coronavirus economic impact.

“If you see any such postings on Craigslist or any social media sites, please screen shot and send to Teresa Collier, The Fusion Center, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at [email protected],” the group asked. “Please be aware the increased economic vulnerability will make some individuals a prime target for HT recruitment.”

Amy Storer is a criminal analyst and fugitive coordinator with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.

“With the tragic coronavirus taking its economic toll, traffickers are already swift to recruit “jobs” all over Craigslist, clearly targeting young females,” Storer said. “Demographically, the first to lose wages will be the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking – service industry, young females, panicking to pay bills. Single mothers will especially become desperate to find work and I fear a new wave of victims could quickly fall into the game, as a result of coronavirus.”

“Many of the ads blatantly list “work for coronavirus layoffs” with explicit content embedded,” Storer said in a statement. “I noticed Craigslist is removing some of the ads but check your city/state, and you will be alarmed. Perhaps we can engage state and local officials, the media, to alert citizens. Due to staffing levels, we need all the help we can get. If there is anything I can do to assist, please reach out. Together, we can stop them!”

Sex trafficking has always been a public health threat due to the spread of various venereal diseases, including AIDs, and more conventional close personal contact diseases like the flu; but that has never been more of threat than it is now with the COVID-19 global pandemic that is spreading throughout our communities. Hundreds of Americans have died in just the last week and tens of thousands are already infected. Having sex (or any other sort of close contact) with a sex worker, underage or not, who has sex with dozens of people each week is more than just “risky” behavior; it has the ability to infect you, them, and everybody you come into contact with, not just your sex partner(s) and could potentially people, not years from now but in a matter of weeks.

Morality is not simply something you do in obedience to God; but rather because it protects you and your family and friends from contagious disease.

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The public is encouraged to share any information with the Department of Homeland Security, the Alabama Fusion Center, and/or your local law enforcement agency.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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