Kentucky receives $1.5 million federal grant to combat human tra - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky receives $1.5 million federal grant to combat human trafficking

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The U.S. Justice Dept. has awarded Kentucky a $1.5 million grant to help combat human trafficking in the state.

Reports of child trafficking alone in Kentucky climbed from 51 in 2013 to 125 last year.

Angela Renfrow was trapped in a life of human trafficking for 20 years.

"On a corner, in somebody's motel, in somebody's garage, in somebody’s woods, in somebody's back seat of a car, 365 days a year," Renfrow told WDRB last fall.

Renfrow was rescued, and is now helping fight human trafficking.

Too many others are not so fortunate.

"Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world," said Attorney General Andy Beshear as he announced the grant.

It will be used to add staff to Kentucky's Human Trafficking Task Force, including the state's first full-time investigator.

"I think this is a game-changer. But it has to be just the start," said Beshear.

Some funding will also go to Catholic Charities to provide a range of victim services.

"Housing -- both emergency housing and longer term transitional housing -- the cost of mental health services, some medical services, interpreter and translation services that may be needed," said Marissa Castellanos, Catholic Charities Human Traffic Manager.

The dollars will also help train law enforcement to recognize that many who commit sex crimes may actually be victims themselves.

"When it's because of the dependence on drugs, or threats of violence, or other reasons, these are victims. And they're victims of some of the worst crimes imaginable," said Beshear.

And Beshear says no community is immune.

"People who don't think it's in their community, they're wrong. It's in every single community," he said.

The grant lasts for three years, and can be renewed -- but Beshear says he's committed to the fight regardless of future federal funding.

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