Human Trafficking In Kentucky?

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Updated: 4/09/2013 6:13 pm

Von Hanshaw says he discovered human trafficking in Northeastern Kentucky 5 years ago.

"I wasn't aware it happened.  I knew of prostitution in the big cities, but I wasn't aware that it happened in the rural communities," said Hanshaw, Rescue Alliance Network Director.

He's devoted to ending human trafficking.  You could consider it modern day slavery where people work against their will.

"They force them by beating them, inducing them with drugs and threats," said Hanshaw.

Human trafficking is big business.  The Polaris Project estimates it generates $32 billion a year in illegal profits.  But the real price looks like this: a penny for each victim Hanshaw says has been taken from Kentucky this year: 101 in all.

"I could tell your audience stories of brutality that occurs right here in Kentucky and around the nation and around the world that would horrify your listeners," said Hanshaw. 

Lexington Police say they've only worked one human trafficking case in the last few years.

In 2011, police busted a prostitution ring, helping victimized women forced to perform sexual acts.  You may not have heard about it. 

"It wasn't something that made a lot of headlines.  It was something that was investigated very thoroughly and very quietly," said Sherelle Roberts, Lexington Police.

Roberts says the women were victims of sex crimes, so the police did not want to publicize the case, and force them to relive the trauma. 

Hanshaw doesn't want to be quiet.  He preaches loudly about the horrors of human trafficking, and hopes people listen. 

If you are a victim of human trafficking, or know somebody who is, you can send a text to "Befree," or 233733 for help.

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