Expert: Human trafficking occurs “almost daily”

QUAD CITIES – Human trafficking expert Cathy O’Keeffe exposed how she believes human traffickers are now doing business.

Human trafficking is the “act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force,” according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. O’Keeffe says that human trafficking is occurring less on city streets and more on home computers. The issue has been recently brought up with the police sting in Muscatine on Oct. 25th.

“So women and children are advertised online,” O’Keeffe said. “It’s over the internet, so no community is immune to it. It’s everywhere.”

O’Keeffe runs a non-profit organization called Braking Traffik. It helps law enforcement in human trafficking sting operations. O’Keeffe showed News 8 a website she claims police have cracked where human traffickers allegedly sell women online in the Quad Cities. 

The site has links where people can sell cars, furniture, even houses. But she claims the website also has a link where people can search for ‘escort services’ as well.

O’Keeffe also just finished a human trafficking study herself. She claims she found 321 posts for people advertising sex over a two-week time period. Tuesday, O’Keeffe said an undisclosed website had 15 new posts advertising women selling sex.

“I could say that forced prostitution occurs almost daily in the Quad Cities,” she said.

Braking Traffik claims that every two days nationally, human traffickers approach one to three kids about selling themselves for sex. In 2011, that meant 1,300 children could have been at risk in Iowa alone. O’Keeffe is holding a human trafficking conference at St. Ambrose University on November 15. To learn more about the event, click here.

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