It is an unfortunate fact of life, but law enforcement officials across the Phoenix metropolitan area confirm, modern-day slavery is alive and well here in Arizona and across the United States of America.
In “The West’s Most Western Town” there is a Scottsdale Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit a part of local law enforcement focused solely on thwarting the exploitation of children and most often young adults.
Nicholas Alamshaw, a Scottsdale Police Department sergeant, is a part of Scottsdale HEaT.
“When it comes to trafficking there are two types: labor trafficking and sex trafficking,” he said offering a simplification explanation of a complex issue.
“The Scottsdale Police Department Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit is focused on investigating sex trafficking and internet crimes against children, but any crime that is related to the exploitation of a human being will be sent to HEaT to investigate.”
Alamshaw reports HEaT is responsible for 46 arrests from April to December of last year. On a national level, the numbers are staggering: Experts estimate 1 in 6 of the more than 26,500 cases of children reported missing in 2020 who had run away were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
In 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s received more than 17,000 reports of possible child sex trafficking, spanning every state and U.S. territory.
The illegal behavior happens all over, law enforcement officials report.
“One thing the public should know is that this is happening all over,” Alamshaw said.
“There is no community that is immune from someone being put into a position where they become a victim of trafficking. It is extremely important for the community to educate themselves on the signs of trafficking and if they see something report it right away. There are a lot of resources out there that can spread the word and increase awareness.”
--- Nicholas Alamshaw, Scottsdale HEaT
There are people in the world who work day-to-day to cultivate new victims ripe for trafficking.
“Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations,” he said. “Illegal behavior does not have one place that it occurs at. It can be anywhere in the city at any given time.”
There is no better defense to keeping children safe than vigilance, Alamshaw says.
“For parents, we always stress the importance of being active, engaged, and communicating with their children,” he said of what everyday residents ought to know.
“Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on social media and other applications, especially paying attention to who their kids are talking to. Social media and other applications are where a lot of victims meet their traffickers.”
The Dream City Foundation is hosting the Stop Traffic Walk from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29 at the Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N. 83rd Ave.
Proceeds from admission to the event, which is free, with options for premier registration start at $99, which includes a t-shirt, wrist glow band, and meal ticket. The purpose of the annual walk is to raise funds to fuel operations for the Where Hope Lives program operating these facilities:
Executive Director, Jeff May, explains the Dream City Foundation has the ambition to expand its intake and rehabilitations centers into 17 new major American cities in the next year and over the next five years Dream City operations could be nationwide.
“It is a complicated subject that exists, so we wanted to do something that is accessible to all people,” he said of the upcoming Peoria event.
“A walk is something anyone can do, everyone can show up and support that. This is our third walk and our goal is to be synonymous with human trafficking rescue and recovery. This Peoria event is our flagship event because this is where it all started.”
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