Human trafficking is a subject you may not want to think about, and might believe that kidnapping and slave-like use of people doesn’t happen around here.

The Iowa Dept. of Human Rights Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice and the FBI determine occurrences of human trafficking. Two main categories considered human trafficking are forcing or coercing individuals to engage in sex acts for the profit of a third party; and recruiting, harboring, or transporting someone by force, fraud, or coercion into involuntary servitude.

Michael Ferjak, a criminal investigator for the Iowa Division testified before a US judiciary hearing in February 2015, stating that victims, typically adolescents and young adults, are forced or coerced at malls, schools, and online. They are conned with promises of modeling or acting jobs, offers of drugs, or just adventure. Ferjak stated that during the NCAA tournament in Des Moines, Polk County experienced a 45 percent spike in human trafficking. He testified that there was an increase in the number of victims taken and sold for sex increases during the Iowa State Fair, the Drake Relays and the 80/35 music festival.

Call the Human Trafficking Hotline at (888)-373-7888 if you are approached to buy services or are victimized.