I-Team

Human trafficking in Milwaukee

CREATED Jul. 1, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul. 8, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Children, forced to become sex slaves.

You wouldn't think it's a problem in Milwaukee, but it is. The FBI says it's one of the biggest issues facing the Milwaukee area.

It isn't just a prostitution problem, but an exploitation problem. Teenagers are being turned into sex slaves under false financial promises.

It happened to Juana's 15-year-old daughter.

"They were making her work. They were making her have customers with no control. She was locked in a room," said Juana to TODAY'S TMJ4's Charles Benson.

"She was beaten. For sex."

Maria knows her two daughters were living separate lives. She says she knows they were being sold for sex.

"She was a part of the human trafficking world," Maria told Charles.

Maria just learned her 18-year-old daughter is back on the streets, but she doesn't know where she is.

Those parents will tell you human trafficking is very real in Milwaukee.

"It can be very violent," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson.

Carlson tells Charles human trafficking is a big priority for the FBI - and it's not just a concern in the city.

"They're looking or people who are vulnerable, the most vulnerable people in our society. That vulnerability can come from a broken family, they're financially vulnerable, they're emotionally vulnerable, they're isolated, they are looking for a safe place."

Carlson says her team has a special squad dedicated to human trafficking.

"The new squad is really designed to deal with child exploitation issues so they deal with child pornography. Civil rights and human trafficking are a big part of the squad."

In 2012, the FBI launched Operations Cross Country, a sweeping nationwide effort to bust up the child sex trafficking business.

In Milwaukee, 58 people were arrested, and seven children were recovered.That's more than any city in America.

"It can happen to any child in any school, at any time," admitted Juana.

Her daughter is in intense therapy, but she sees hope and progress in her daughter's art and poetry as she climbs out of the dark secret world of human sex trafficking.

Maria's message for her missing daughter is simple: "That I love her. Come home."

Resources

Parents looking for help for their teens can reach out to: www.rethinkresources.net to link to the teen groups.

A parents' support group called Healing Hearts. http://www.rethinkresources.net/resources/

There is a walk to raise money and awareness about Human Trafficking called A Walk for a Good Cause and it will raise money for the non profit Exploit No More.

Here is is the information about the walk.
When: Saturday, July 27, 2013 @ 10:00 a.m.  
Where: 1136 W Madison Ave, Milwaukee

More info about the walk.

Exploit No More: http://exploitnomore.org/