Human trafficking

An estimated 21 million victims are currently trapped in a modern-day slavery.

Andrea Kadar, a representative of the Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking in Arizona, will be the opening speaker on the issue this Thursday at Northland Pioneer College’s Silver Creek Campus.

On behalf of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, northern Arizona, Kazar will bring awareness to what human trafficking actually is and why it is an issue. The coalition wants small communities to be aware because they do not have sting operations like the big cities, or work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security.

Though this problem has been heavily discussed in the media by Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, it is again making headlines all over the country as parents, business persons, law enforcement and government educate and enact laws and sting operations to stop this horrific crime.

Television programs and movies have been produced about human trafficking, but people do not realize that runaways, especially young girls, are victims of trafficking. According to the data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Arizona’s numbers rose 30 percent from 2015 to 2016 with the average age of the victim being 14 and female.

The definition used by Arizona’s coalition is “modern-day slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. It is divided into two parts: sex trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport, or obtain a person for the purpose of a commercial act. Labor trafficking has the same definition, however it is for the purpose of labor services.”

A 47-page booklet at azag.gov put out by the Attorney General Mark Brnovich, “Human Trafficking: Arizona’s not buying it” goes into great detail about how to be aware and how to protect children in our communities.

Kazar said most people think they understand the problem, but believe it is confined to the big cities, which is one of the reasons rural areas are a target. Kadar is from Sedona, Yavapai County, where their Sheriff Scott Mascher and his law enforcement team said it was not going to happen in Sedona. They organized a series of sex stings from April 2014 through Aug. 2015. They used two Glendale detectives and two barely legal young girls on social media as the bait – looking for fun in Verde Valley. They received 422 calls from Verde Valley residents looking for sex. Kazar said callers were potential buyers and the detectives pretended to be 16-year-old girls.

“Most hung up,” said Kazar,”but 38 did not, and were charged with child prostitution and had to pay $250,000 in fines.”

Kazar said that most of the callers were married — they claimed to just be curious and hung up. Those who hung up may or may not have ever done that again, but it is big business for many and Kazar said the law of supply and demand is at work here. At greatest risk are teenage runaways, kids into drugs, unpopular kids, lonely kids, kids who are gay, poor, abused, and even popular kids who succumb to the romantic romeos. A test in Arizona revealed that once a kid is on the street, these traffickers are likely to have your kid within 48 hours.They seduce them with their needs and their dreams.

The Sedona Women, Dames who make a difference, decided to get involved. The group is made up of a variety of Christian women who are moms, grandmothers, political activists, medical people and more who, when they learned of trafficking collectively said, “We will not have that in our communities.”

Kazar said, “We do not not want it in Arizona. We want to protect the families and children in Arizona, and we get into the streets and talk. We have a webpage, a Facebook page, and we get the word out. Responsible moms mean to end the traffic victims here. ”

Kadar said their group does things like setting up a table in front of the grocery store and talking to people about the issue, educating them to the facts.

“Trafficking is the second largest crime business in the world, second only to drugs,” said Kadar. “The United Nations says it is a 150 billion dollar a year industry with 27 million slaves.”

Kazar knows her numbers. She said that she learned through a Las Vegas report that one in 13 of these victims lured into trafficking have no missing persons file on them. They are run aways from families and foster homes, and their parents have not been able to find them. 80 percent of the children in trafficking are Americans.

“We have been concerned about the border,” said Kadar, “but with the tight control that we have now, what we see is that American kids are an easier pick. They are romanced by 20 and 22 year old guys who they meet through social media. These romeo pimps convince them that they can get them modeling contracts and great jobs in Vegas. Once they have them, they disappear.”

The Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking meets once a quarter. Ducey’s coalition consists of medical personnel, law enforcement, Department of Tourism and others working together to set protocol on trafficking.

Kazar and Coconino Sheriff Jim Driscoll were invited to be guests on Flagstaff’s “The Big Talker” radio show on 97.1 last November before Driscoll took office. Kazar learned on that show that an Uber driver said that kids talk in the back of the car like he is not even there. He said there are girls at NAU who are selling themselves to older men for tuition, finding these men at a site called seekingarrangements.com.

Kadar said that trafficking victims have quotas they must meet. She said selling a young victim at around ten times a day, 365 days a year, puts $175,000 or more in cash in the trafficker’s pocket, and the victim gets nothing.

“Why don’t they get away,” said Kardar. “They feel trapped; they cannot escape. One day they are loved on, have their nails and hair done, and the next day they are beat for not making enough money. They are filmed and procured. Their traffickers tell them they will show the films to their school, their church, or hurt their family. It is a trauma bond, the hardest to convince girls in front of rescuer to leave – the toughest.”

“Human Trafficking in Northern Arizona, What are the facts and what can we do to stop it?” will begin at 6:30 p.m. and go until 7:45 p.m. In addition to Kadar, Lt. Tom Boelts of Yavapai Sheriff’s Department will speak, followed by Roxanne Padilla, Navajo County Victim Services, Jennifer Flake and Pam Flake of the Empowerment Project, and Ariz. Sen. Sylvia Allen.

Navajo County K.C. Clark and Chief Deputy Jim Molesa secured NPC’s small auditorium in Snowflake for the event and extended the invitation to Show Low Police Chief Joe Shelley, Snowflake-Taylor Police Chief Larry Scarber who will be in attendance. Apache County Sheriff Joe Dedman was also invited.

This presentation will help anyone know how to identify a trafficked child. Even if one suspects a child is in danger or is being groomed to be used by traffickers, they can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

(1) comment

Terry W

Why doesnt the newspaper print the names of the perps? Fsmilt, friends, and neighbors would like to know who they are.

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