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Sex Trafficking in the Spotlight

Thursday, 13 June 2013 15:27 // 2057
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“Human trafficking” conjures up images ofinternational sex rings and slave labor in other countries.

But human traffickers and their victims are aconstant presence in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Police Department has more than 125open investigations into sex traffickers, cases in which pimps are forcing, coercing or lying to victims so that they will sell sex for money, drugs orprotection.

But that alarming statistic doesn’t account for thereal number of sex trafficking victims—most of whom are teenagers—in the city,suburbs or other parts of Wisconsin.

Nor do those investigations shed light on the numberof victims of labor trafficking, those who are forced to work jobs againsttheir will for little or no pay.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what’sreally happening,” said MPD Det. Thomas Dineen, of the department’s sensitivecrimes division. “But it’s pretty shocking.”

Dineen described southeastern Wisconsin as a sourceof underage prostitutes, with almost nonstop sex trafficking between Milwaukeeand Chicago.

“All of them have a different story,” Dineen said.“Some are from troubled homes, some are not. Some of them make a bad decision.Some of them are ‘in love.’ And then, when the money runs out, they’re forcedto sell themselves.”

Claudine O’Leary, a human trafficking expert whoserves as a consultant at the Milwaukee Health Department, said thatMilwaukee’s sex trafficking victims are both minors and adults, males andfemales, locals and those brought to Milwaukee from other states and countries.

Soon-to-be-released research O’Leary conducted withMPD and the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare turned up 77 cases of minors whowere involved in sex trafficking between August 2010 and August 2012.

“Those 77 cases are a fraction of the young peoplethat we know have been sex trafficked here in Milwaukee,” O’Leary said.

The cases O’Leary identified are not part of the 125ongoing MPD investigations, nor are they accounted for in the growing number offederal sex trafficking prosecutions in Milwaukee. Just last week, Tyrone “HK”McMillan, who ran a shop in Southridge Mall in Greendale while also pimping outwomen, was convicted in a federal court of seven counts of sex trafficking,while Najee C. Moore was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges ofconspiracy, sex trafficking and attempted forced labor, of both minor and adultvictims.

Six-Part Series on Sex Trafficking

Milwaukee’s pervasive but underground sextrafficking operations will be the topic of a six-part speaker series organizedby Career Youth Development, Inc. (CYD), beginning Thursday, June 13.

“There are girls who are being pimped by these guyswho are controlling them mentally and physically,” said CYD Executive DirectorJames Ferguson. “They are being sold as property, for money, and the exchangeis sex and different sexual and lewd activities that they’re forced into.”

Ferguson said the speakers series is intended toeducate parents and potential victims about the signs of sex trafficking, aswell as how to get help.

“A lot of the time the parents come to us at thepoint where they are so frustrated that they don’t have anything else that theycan do to stop their daughter from running away or stopping their rebellion,”Ferguson said. “It sort of goes south from there. And when it completely hitssouth and hits the ground, that’s when the pimps are at the optimum level ofcontrol of the girls, when the family walks away out of frustration. And thenthe girl has nobody but the pimp. And that’s when the abuse starts and whenthings really take a turn for the worse.”

CYD’s series begins on Thursday, June 13, and willcontinue most Thursdays through July 26, when actress Brook Bello will shareher story of surviving sex trafficking.

Speakers include Tracey Johnson, executive assistantU.S. attorney general, on June 13; Terence Ray of the Milwaukee FatherhoodInitiative and Maria Beltran of Healing Hearts on June 20; DanaWorld-Patterson, chairwoman of the Human Trafficking Task Force of GreaterMilwaukee, on June 27; Pastor Jason Butler from Transformation City Church onJuly 11; Claudine O’Leary of the Milwaukee Health Department on July 18; andactress Brook Bello on July 26.

All discussions—except Bello’s—will begin at 5:30p.m. at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2300 N. Dr. MartinLuther King Drive. Bello will give her speech at 2 p.m. on July 26 at MercyMemorial Church, 2477 N. 36th St.

For more information about the series, go

If you are a victim of sex trafficking or if youhave information about sex trafficking, call the National Human TraffickingResource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree. Or you can contactthe MPD’s Sensitive Crimes Division at 414-935-7405.

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Last modified on Monday, 27 January 2014 12:24
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