West Human Trafficking Task Force makes major dent in commercial sex trade
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) -The West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force broke a major case - 15 arrests.
Investigators say their charges range from prostitution to drugs and human trafficking allegedly involving commercial sex.
The pain is unspeakable, long-lasting with no easy fix. But investigator Jessica Wilson says there is always hope for healing.
Jessica Wilson is an investigator for the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force and an investigator for the University of Alabama Police Department.
“These are people who were vulnerable from the get-go,” said Wilson.
Wilson knows all too well what the trauma victims endure at the hands of a human trafficker. It is beyond comprehension. The traffickers prey on the vulnerable through social media and promise the good things in life when, in fact, the promise turns sour. “Affect their lives potentially their children’s lives and relationships from here until whenever,” Wilson said.
Captain Phil Simpson put it another way, a rape that never stops.
“Now think of a human trafficking victim who is having to do this 10, 12, 14 times a night,” Capt. Simpson said.
Captain Simpson says the fact that 15 people were arrested in the most recent case doesn’t suggest human trafficking is more prevalent in Tuscaloosa than anywhere else. The crime itself is nothing new. The difference here is Simpson and his team have become much more aggressive in their efforts to stamp it out.
“With the interstate and Highway 82, it makes it easier for them to come back to the same location,” said Simpson.
Police say it’s hard to say whether they’re winning the fight against human traffickers but captain Simpson says there is no doubt the bad folks know the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force is a force to be reckoned with.
“The commercial sex workers tell us people know if you come to Tuscaloosa you’re running the risk,” said Capt. Simpson
The risk of getting caught and potentially face a minimum of 20 years in prison, according to Captain Simpson.
Captain Simpson and investigator Wilson say the victims often make great progress in recovering through therapy but it is often a life-long journey.
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