Police crack down on human trafficking in Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Police crack down on human trafficking in Louisville

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Louisville, KY (WDRB) -- When you think of the Kentucky Derby and all the festivities surrounding it, you think of horses, hats, and all the fun.  But police are thinking about something else this time of year, and easy access off Interstate 65 makes it possible.

Louisville Police say women here are being used as sex slaves. Sometimes the victims don't even know what city or state they're in because they've moved so many times.

Louisville Metro Police Detective Brian Wright says, "Anytime you got a big sporting event, whether it be Derby, Super Bowl, you've got the opportunity to make money whether it be human trafficking, prostitution, ticket scalping."

Louisville Metro Police Detective Brian Wright is also on the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force that looks at a variety of violent crimes from gangs to narcotics to human trafficking. He says movies like "Taken" which highlight human trafficking are more real than you think.  But he says investigations are difficult, because there's a fine line between determining if the person is a victim or a criminal.

Wright says, "When you 're dealing with people who are not from this country, they are worried that they are getting deported. We try to relay to them that's not what we're there for."

Around Derby time, he says more and more sexually explicit ads pop up on websites.

Wright says, "What me and the other detectives usually try to look for, we go through the pictures and a lot of times even if age is 33, you'll see a female that looks really young or in the picture she looks uncomfortable and doesn't want to be there."

Police will then set up a sting. The victims can be men and children too, forced to work on farms or in sweatshops.

Jefferson County's first human trafficking indictment involves a 17-year-old victim. Prosecutors say 22-year-old Justin Ritter and 36-year-old Rebecca Goodwin coerced her into prostitution and gave her heroin. Police arrested them after the teen agreed to have sex with an undercover officer for $75.

Now the Human Trafficking Task Force is trying to clean up the problem with something as simple as a bar of soap.  The soaps will be placed in hotels and motels around Jefferson County with the human trafficking hotline number on them.

Volunteer Nicole Featherstone says, "This could be a place that potentially where someone who has found themselves in a dangerous situation might have a few moments alone, find themselves in the bathroom, find the soap and hopefully have the information to make the change that could help them."

Amy Nace-DeGonda with the Human Trafficking Task Force says, "We've targeted hotels in area that have a suspected higher risk for human trafficking, either based on location or history of criminal activity or prostitution."

The Task Force says those hotels are all over, not just in one part of town. And, police say expect to hear more about human trafficking in the coming months.

Wright says, "Without giving too much information about it, we got some stuff we're working right around in an area after the Derby time that we're going to work on for human trafficking and prostitution."

For more information on human trafficking, click here.

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