Slavery in Suburbia: Sex trade thrives online
Sex trafficking is a thriving business in the Hudson Valley with thousands of women and children being sold in places you'd least expect.
In a Turn to Tara special series, News 12 investigative reporter Tara Rosenblum spent the last eight months finding out that sex trafficking is happening every day, in every community, in our region.
In Part two of the four–part series, Rosenblum shows how trafficking thrives online despite the attempts by authorities to shut it down.
News 12 had a close-up experience recently of just how easy it to buy sex online as Rosenblum was embedded with a undercover sting operation by Westchester County detectives. Within seconds of going online, an undercover detective set up plans to meet for paid sex at the Apple Motor Inn in Ardsley. News 12 cameras were rolling when the deal went down. Once money changed hands, a signal was given to the officers standing by in the room right next door, and the team moved in. Later a terrified, 24-year-old woman was led out in handcuffs. By the night’s end, police arrested seven “Johns,” but the officers know their work is far from over. There are thousands, just like them, surfing for sex online every day on sites like backpage.com, which was recently shut down by the FBI.
But it seems that as one site is shut down, another one will open.
A Westchester mom, who agreed to an interview over the phone, says she sells herself online and nearly all of her encounters play out at higher-end hotels in Westchester County. “I'm not going to be so dumb to go to Motel 6. I go to high-class hotels where I feel safe.”
Turn to Tara’s eight-month probe reveals prostitution and trafficking, which often go hand in hand, is happening at hotels all over the Hudson Valley. New York's top FBI agent for violent crimes, Michael Osborn, says is putting pimps "and" Johns on notice. “We are opening more cases. We are targeting more pimps. We have arrested more people. Our efforts are increasing in terms of enforcement.”
The FBI isn’t the only one concerned about sex trafficking of children. Hundreds recently packed Pace University for a first of its kind trafficking awareness training seminar. Experts revealed the ugly ways in which children are groomed, exploited and recruited into the sex trade. Lawmakers are also fighting to change state law regarding trafficking. NY State Assembly member Amy Paulin (D-88) says it can’t just be authorities that want to stop this from happening. “It’s intolerable; we can't tolerate it. The fact is, so many things are happening right under our noses and sometimes good people tend to avert their eyes. We all have a responsibility to make sure these heinous crimes don't happen.” “This is part of a subculture of drugs and human trafficking that has to be broken up, and it takes [the] county working in harmony with other police operations to go after these things,” adds Westchester County Executive George Latimer.