Expert says human trafficking is a big issue in the Quad Cities

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168 kids saved, nearly 300 pimps all arrested by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in a nation wide child sex trafficking sting this past week.

Arrests were made in both Iowa and Illinois and police and advocates in the Quad Cities are keeping a close watch.

"It's here. It's just not obvious at all," said Maggie Tinsman, Chair of Braking Traffik, an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking in the Quad Cities.

Tinsman, a former Iowa Senator drafted a bill criminalizing human trafficking.

"It is a big issue and we're not doing anything about it. But the FBI has even told me that, you have it Quad Cities and you aren't doing anything about it," she said.

Something was done in 106 cities across the country, including in Iowa and Illinois. The FBI, local, state and federal law enforcement partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducted Operation Cross Country VIII to address commercial child sex trafficking across the country. 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges and 168 kids, who were victims of prostitution were recovered, according to a press release from the FBI.

"I think they're very important because they're making the pimps aware that there's a risk," said Tinsman.

"It's not something that we've seen. Ya know, it's always on our minds. It's obviously a concern, but fortunately for us here in Davenport, it's not something that we see every day," said Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez.

Donchez is on the Board of Directors for Braking Traffik.

"Although it's not something that touches us every day, it's still something that we need to be concerned about, and we in law enforcement need to continue to train our people on what to see and what to do," said Donchez.

According to Braking Traffik, the average age of a trafficking victim is 11 to 14. One in three kids that run away are approached to be sold for sex within 48 hours on the street. The internet is also a concern.

"That's exactly where the pimps go. They don't even need to go to the street anymore, they can go to Facebook," said Tinsman.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is working with the FBI, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and Cook County Sheriff's Office on a campaign called, "Our Children Are Not for Sale."

The campaign provides information about how to identify potential victims and perpetrators and how to find help.




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