Tuesday, FBI forces announced they're working with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to target commercial child sex trafficking, specifically in Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia.
5 News spoke with the Deputy Director for NAGTRI, the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute. Deputy Director Judy McKee said she believes sex trafficking happens in almost every community nationwide. She said it's the second largest criminal enterprise in the world behind weapons and drug trafficking and it's continuing to grow.
Criminals can only sell a drug one time, but with this they can use someone over and over again. Also with it being so hidden, it's easy for them to get away with. Since it's under the radar, the number of victims is not truly known. As of right now, there's an estimated 100,000 kids on the market.
Apparently most of these children are from right here in the U.S. and not from overseas like many people may think. McKee said she trains people all over to understand what human trafficking is and how to put an end to it. She said education about this issue and knowing it's out there is the first step to a solution.
"With knowledge for everyone about the scores of human trafficking in our country and throughout the world, it will help law enforcement identify victims and hopefully rescue and turn victims into survivors," said McKee.
Most of the people 5 News talked to around the area said that they were surprised to see that this was an issue so close to home.
"I was shocked. I had no idea that it was in this area. I'm glad that everyone is working together to try to put an end to it," said Judy Hawkins, Harrison County resident.
While others said they weren't surprised at all and that anything can happen anywhere.