Charlottesville Group Talks about Human Trafficking in VA - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Group Talks about Human Trafficking in VA

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The business of human trafficking, primarily to sell them for sex, is a very real threat in Virginia. Thursday at the Albemarle County Office Building, Creciendo Juntos, a network of support for Latino-Hispanic community members, revealed some frightening statistics in the commonwealth.

The sex slave industry has become so severe a national trafficking hotline says, between January and June of 2013, almost 400 calls were made from inside Virginia to report trafficking-related cases. And that is just within a six-month period.

Gangs are turning to trafficking for a steady income stream. The leaders of trafficking rings often mask their illegal business by taking advantage of major sporting events coming to town. The crowds often provide clientele, at the same time, masking the crime.

“More than three-fourths of the people in the audience today will in some way encounter a victim of human trafficking,” said Gloria Peña Rockhold, chair of Creciendo Juntos.

So how would you know if somebody is a victim? Experts say they're often afraid of strangers who might want to help. The people behind these trafficking rings are ruthless, and will hurt victims who try to get out. But a new organization called the Arbor is setting up in Charlottesville to shelter those victims. The group plans to accept clients in 2015.

Until then, people who have questions can call the Polaris Project, a nonprofit that works to combat human trafficking.

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