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Group speaks in Brownwood on human trafficking "epidemic"

By Shenna Stout, sstout@ktxs.com
Published On: Feb 05 2013 07:21:16 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 05 2013 09:18:17 PM CST
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

Each year buying and selling people generates more profit than the NFL, the MLB, and the NBA combined.

That's according to a Ft. Worth based group, Traffick 911.

The group spoke in Brownwood Tuesday to raise awareness for human trafficking.

At least 12 agencies and school districts signed up with Traffick 911. They will complete a training program to learn more about the crime of human trafficking.

It is being called a hidden U.S. epidemic.

"The trauma to these little girls is so intense, so you really have to have specialized trauma care, medical care," said Deena Graves, Executive Director for Traffick 911.

Tuesday at Family Services Center, several members from groups, agencies, and schools listened to the horrific details of child trafficking.

One lesson: The internet is a portal for trafficking.

There are websites advertising girls from San Angelo, even Abilene, with captions such as, "new in town," "blondie is back," "here for one night only."

"You know, you use to have to go out on the street and find someone, now you can order a child like you would order a pizza," said Graves.

Graves said often the girls get caught by law enforcement and charged with prostitution, and the perpetrators forcing them into prostitution get away.

The tricky part for police is proving they are underage girls, since the websites don't list the girls' ages.

"There are so many internet websites and there are so many resources on the internet, that it's hard for law enforcement to have enough resources to keep up with them when they're moving these kids around on average every two weeks," said Graves.

Only behind California, the National Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state.

One reason: I-10 runs through the entire state of Texas and is the number one route for human trafficking in the country.

Traffick 911 is in the process of building a safe house for sex trafficking victims under the age of 18.

Currently in the U.S., there are only about 300 beds for kids who are victims.

The Triumph House is located on a 168 acre ranch strategically placed near major highways that connect Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

It will be open in the next few month said Graves.

For more ways to get involved with Traffick 911, visit http://traffick911.com/.