Human trafficking is at its peak in California with a reported 749 cases in 2019. Although South Dakota had only 10 reported cases last year, it is still a prominent problem in our home town. It’s actually much closer than you think.
People often assume they’re safe from harm’s way, but anyone can be subjected to human sex trafficking. A reported 300 calls were made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline from 2007-2017. All of those calls were spread out through the years but 68 of the calls were in 2016 alone (Smith). But that’s throughout the whole state of South Dakota, right?
In 2010, a man by the name of Brandon Quincy Thompson was found, admitted, and convicted of transferring at least 20 girls into sex trafficking. The scary part? Thompson was from the small town, Tea, just a few minutes outside of East Sioux Falls. He was sentenced to life plus ten years in prison. Even after Brandon was gone, the problem still wasn’t completely cleared. In 2013, a man who lived in his small apartment, alone right outside of downtown Sioux Falls was carrying out horrific acts. His name was Mohammed Sharif Alboudi, he was 45 years old, and he took advantage of multiple young, homeless, drug-addicted girls. He would invite the addicted girls in, provide them drugs, a place to stay, and forced them to have sex with multiple men while high or drunk. He was charged with four counts of sex trafficking and sentenced to a mandatory 15 years in prison
So what do we do knowing there’s potential danger lurking along Sioux Falls We stay informed and recognize the signs of sex trafficking. First, we need to look out for ourselves. What are the signs you might be getting lured by a sex trafficker? If you run into someone who seems far too confident, promising and seems too good to be true. People who tend to be those sent out to find people to traffic are employers. If they seem too sure of themselves but unsure of what your job position is going to be and denies you access to your staff rights, you might wanna look for employment elsewhere. These may come off as obvious things to watch for, but one blind eye could lead to another one of our civilians thrown into the horrors of human trafficking.
Not only do we need to watch for those who could steal us into trafficking, but we need to watch out for those that might have already fallen into it. People oftentimes assume that human trafficking means the victim is held against their will, being moved from place to place constantly. In some cases, this is exactly what they are experiencing, but more often than that, the victim is in place. They are terrified to ask for help and have no safe place to run. (“Myths & Facts”) Those who may be stuck in human trafficking oftentimes act very bruised, anxious, and a lack of memory. They may also come off as restricted with their money or travel, almost as if they’re being managed by another person. With things such as their health care, passport, and having to move on a regular basis, although they may make claims this is from witchcraft or voodoo. These things could be clear indicators that your friend is being trafficked(“Spot”).
Staying informed and aware of your surroundings and looking out for yourself and others is the only way we can truly beat the brutal crime of human trafficking.
National Human Trafficking Hotline. Polaris, humantraffickinghotline.org/what-human-trafficking/myths-misconceptions. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020.
“National Human Trafficking Hotline.” Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris, humantraffickinghotline.org/states. Accessed 25 Mar. 2020.
Smith, Kelly. “A Closer Look at Human Trafficking in South Dakota.” Dakota News Now, Gray Digital Media, 24 July 2017, www.dakotanewsnow.com/content/news/A-closer-look-at-human-trafficking-in-South-Dakota-436421303.html. Accessed 25 Mar. 2020.
“Spot the Signs of Human Trafficking.” Hope for Justice, Fundraising Regulator, hopeforjustice.org/spot-the-signs/#general-indicators. Accessed 25 Mar. 2020.
U.S. Attorney Office. “Tea Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Plus 10 Years for Sex Trafficking of a Child by Force and Solicitation to Murder a Federal Witness.” FBI Archives, U.S. Government, 15 Apr. 2011, archives.fbi.gov/archives/minneapolis/press-releases/2011/mp041511a.htm. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020.
U.S. Attorneys Office. “Sioux Falls Man Convicted In Sex Trafficking Case.” Justice, United States Department of Justice, 6 Dec. 2013, www.justice.gov/usao-sd/pr/sioux-falls-man-convicted-sex-trafficking-case. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020.