On Friday evening, members of the group were rescued at two truck stops within the city of St Joseph; Bucky’s and Love’s Travel Stop, and were given food to eat, a safe house, medical treatment, and counseling.
Three individuals were arrested for their involvement in the incident with an additional arrest pending.
The joint operation was carried out by St. Joseph Police, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, and Schmitts’ Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, which is comprised of native law enforcement and advocacy teams.
“Further details about the operation cannot be released at this time as the investigation is ongoing,” Eric Schmitt, Missouri state attorney general mentioned in a press release.
It comes a week after he wrote an op-ed for the Kansas City Star near the end of nationwide human trafficking prevention month, during which he outlined his objective of making Missouri “the most inhospitable state in the country for human trafficking.”
He cited how Missourians urgently reported suspected cases to the National Human Trafficking Hotline as an alternative to a state-specific line, which had already seen some successes.
This meant that federal, state, and local law enforcement may work collectively, thus decreasing response times.
Meanwhile, his office’s Hope Initiative has focused on therapeutic massage companies, which regularly harbored trafficking victims, and has pushed for landlords of such premises to evict tenants operating in such crimes.
Schmitt stated that 33 illicit therapeutic massage companies in Missouri, together with six in the Kansas City area, have been or are about to be evicted because of this crackdown. “We will continue to pursue further evictions aggressively,” he said.
Last October, a sex trafficking investigation in the state led to 5 arrests and the rescue of 10 potential victims. Three youngsters had also been put into protective custody and released to the Missouri Department of Social Services, the Oak Grove Police Department said.
The chief juvenile officer at Greene County, Bill Prince, has mentioned that its high-risk victim task force allowed agencies have been working collectively to deal with trafficking.
“It started through dealing with runaways,” Prince said. “Many are running away from something bad or they are running to something bad.”
Prince added that identifying those in danger and getting “a coordinated system-wide response to their issues, is what this high-risk victims taskforce was about.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.