FBI Ranks Minnesota 13th Worst for Human Trafficking

Posted at: 06/12/2013 7:11 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The arrest of a Rochester man earlier this week for attempting to prostitute young girls has brought awareness to human trafficking in Minnesota.

It happens in our community more than we think, women are pressured into sex trafficking

"As with any crime in sexual violence it happens in security and silence and we know it's vastly under reported," said Jeanne Ronayne of Olmsted County victim services.

Ronayne sees the permanent scars left behind on victims of sex trafficking.

"There's shame, there's trauma, there's fear," said Ronayne.

Minnesota sits alarmingly high in rank when it comes to these crimes. It ranks 13th in the nation by the FBI for highest incidence in sex trafficking. By a very conservative estimate 213 women are sold for sex each month in Minnesota. Of that 50 percent of them started before they were 18.

"I don’t know what is it that makes this issue more prevalent in our community, I think from the readings I've done they do suggest that it happens to be our demographics and our geographic location," said Ronayne.

While Ronayne is encouraged by the work the state and law enforcement are doing to fight this issue, she is discouraged by the level at which it continues.

"When we hear from law enforcement, that the only thing that prevents us from making more arrests is time, then we know this is a really big problem," said Ronayne.

Minnesota passed the safe harbor legislation that works to help victims of sex trafficking back in 2011. Much of the bill will take effect in 2014.