If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking or if you are a victim yourself, contact our East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force at (651) 430-7825. All calls can remain anonymous. In an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery in which person(s) engage in sexual or labor exploitation through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It occurs in all communities throughout the United States, including Washington County.
Traffickers target most vulnerable women, men, and children victims by using violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex and labor industry for their own profit. Sexual exploitation is the exchange of sexual activity for some form of compensation, (for example, money, shelter, or drugs). Trafficking is when a third party is involved in exploitation, which may be through recruiting, controlling or profiting. The East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force is working with community and state partners to end the practice of human trafficking and to provide services and resources for victims.
Minnesota Sex Trafficking Law
MN. Stat. § 609.321 subd. 7a Sex Trafficking means (1) "receiving, recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing, or obtaining by any means an individual to aid in the prostitution of the individual," or, (2) "receiving profit or anything of value, knowing or having reason to know it is derived from [sex trafficking]."
Minnesota Labor Trafficking Law
MN. Stat. § 609.282 subd.1 Labor Trafficking means (1) "Whoever knowingly engages in the labor trafficking of an individual who is under the age of 18 is guilty of a crime and may be sentenced to imprisonment."
Where is human trafficking found?
Human trafficking victims can be hiding in plain sight, with victims being commonly found in:
- Commercial sex - online, hotels, casinos, and strip clubs
- Domestic situations - nanny or housekeeper
- Labor industries - farming and landscaping
- Door-to-door sales and panhandling
- Hospitality services - restaurants and hotels
- Massage parlors
- Social media
- What is Force, Fraud, Coercion
- How to Identify a Victim
- Minnesota Safe Harbor Legislation
- Helpful Resources for Victims
- Contact Us
Force, fraud and coercion are the methods used by sex traffickers to press victims into lives of servitude and abuse. Examples are:
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, confinement, kidnapping
False offers of employment, marriage, or better life
Threats against the victim and/or their family, debt-bondage, psychological abuse, manipulation, isolation
How to Identify a Victim
Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking and ask follow up questions so that you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. These are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation:
- Low Self Esteem
- Experienced Past Physical and/or Sexual Abuse
- Drug Use
- Submissive, fearful or rehearsed
- Older Significant Other
- Sexual Photos Found on Computer or Phone
- Unexplained Gifts
- Noticeable difference in appearance (Hair, Nails, Clothing)
- Branding (tattoos depicting a name or initials)
- Language Barrier
Profile of a Sex Trafficking Victim
- 95% are chemically dependent
- Over 90% have criminal records
- 60-90% are without safe housing
- 85% are victims of childhood sexual abuse, rape, or incest
- 83% are victims of assaults with deadly weapons
- 75% are victims of physical abuse as a child
- 57% are victims of kidnapping
- 100% ARE SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER OR SON
Victims Will Often Not Ask for Help
Several factors may influence a victim's apprehensiveness to ask for help or identify as a victim. They often times lack trust, self-blame, and are manipulated and instructed by the trafficker. Often times, the victim may feel like they are in a relationship with their trafficker.
In 2011, Minnesota passed the Safe Harbors for Sexually Exploited Youth law.
Safe Harbors for Sexually Exploited Youth, went into full effect in August 2014. It increases the penalties for buyers and adds the term “sexual exploitation” to the state’s child protection code, recognizing sexually exploited youth as victims, rather than criminals.
Minnesota youth who engage in prostitution are viewed as victims and survivors, NOT criminals. They will be treated with dignity and respect, and directed to supportive services, and shelter and housing that meet their needs and recognize their right to make their own choices.
If you see something, say something. Often times victims of trafficking aren't able to speak up, but you can.
Helpful Resources for Victims
To request a speaker, school presentation, or to speak with someone about community outreach efforts, contact the East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force Commander by email or call (651) 430-7817.
By the Numbers in Washington County
In 2022, Washington County and the East Metro Human Trafficking Task Force:
people for solicitation of a minor for sex
cases and tips
Human trafficking is a problem hiding in plain sight.
During a underage sex sting in December 2022, 159 people answered an advertisement for sex with a person who was identified as a minor; seven people were arrested.
Students in Washington County
In 2019, the Minnesota Department of Education surveyed students in grades 9 and 11. Nearly 1 in 70 students responded that they had traded sex for something in exchange.