Local organizations raise awareness about human trafficking ahead of Derby
Experts say human trafficking increases around Derby time with more people and more money in the city.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - It's a disturbing side effect to big events like the Kentucky Derby, and this week, officials and local organizations are raising awareness about human trafficking.
Dozens of people come together for a prayer service Tuesday afternoon. Their focus was stopping the demand for human trafficking.
Experts say it goes up every year during the Kentucky Derby.
"We have a lot of people that come in town, and we have a lot of money in town, and whenever you have those things, you're going to have a lot of trafficking," said Free2Hope founder Amy Leenerts.
Her organization has also been raising awareness.
"There are large syndicates of trafficking that run across the country, so these are gonna be girls, probably a lot of them from elsewhere, and they're gonna be brought into the city," Leenerts said. "Then when the Derby is over, they're gonna be taken to the next venue, whatever it is."
She joined Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear for a press conference Tuesday morning.
"Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world," Beshear said.
Beshear asked people to be on the look out for signs of human trafficking this weekend and to be ready to report and intervene.
"Look for children and adults who might be fearful of strangers, that don't know exactly where they are, that have inconsistencies in their story and that may be carrying many pre-paid cards but no identification documents," Beshear said.
Leenerts' organization has been asking local businesses across the Metro to post stickers with the national human trafficking hotline number.
She says education can lead to results and from 2013 to 2014 calls to that hotline from Jefferson County went up 800 percent.
"When (people) start realizing what trafficking is and get a little more clear on it and have that number to call, it's surprising how many do call," she told WDRB News.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is 888-373-7888.
To report suspected human trafficking of a child, you can call 877-KYSAFE1 or dial 911 if you think the person is in immediate danger.
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