Turn to Tara: Westchester DA weighs in on what's fueling the growing crisis of human trafficking

News 12's senior reporter Tara Rosenblum sat down with Westchester's top prosecutor to find out what is fueling the growing crisis of human trafficking.
Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah has spent her whole career confronting the crisis - first as a federal prosecutor for 16 years and now as DA.
"I always try to explain that sex traffickers are master manipulators. That it's a crime of manipulation," says Rocah.
Rosenblum's interview with Rocah is part of an ongoing News 12 series "Slavery in Suburbia." Data uncovered in that series shows the crisis exploded during the pandemic while at the same time prosecution of traffickers plunged.
Roughly 60% of New York's trafficking cases play out outside of New York City, and the data shows the largest percentage of those cases are happening in Westchester and Western New York.
"On the one hand, you had more people and kids online because of the pandemic but also people retreating more, and just not having as much opportunity to have contact with a teacher who they might say something to," says Rocah.
Rocah plans to hold a virtual panel for parents Tuesday night that will feature top experts on trafficking from across the Hudson Valley. The panel will focus on the warning signs and hidden dangers, specifically on social media.
"It can happen on Instagram. It can happen on Twitter. It can happen on online games. It can happen on Reddit. It can happen on Facebook because the predators who are master manipulators know how to get from a general group chat to a private you," says Rocah.
That's why Rocah believes it is important to educate parents about the dangers.