AVON -- Sex trafficking is an everyday problem that affects thousands. Here in central Minnesota, it is the subject of several area organizations.

At the "Stop the Trafficking" event at the Avon Community Church Monday night, Waite Park Police Investigator Jason Thompson spoke about the crime.

Thompson says the community keeps him busy.

"I receive around 40 tips a month about on different trafficked people. On where it's occurring on who they suspect is trafficking, who's being trafficked, so I receive probably about half of my tips from community members."

Thompson added that you should report anything that's out of place if you suspect trafficking.

"Nothing is ever too small or minimal, we'll investigate every tip, if it doesn't lead somewhere we just designate it as an "intel" file."

Also at the event was Rebecca Kotz, Trafficking Coordinator for the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center. She says pimps usually fall into 2 categories, "Gorilla" and "Romeo".

"Typically a trafficker that poses as a boyfriend is a romeo, they'll use tactics of charm or being "smooth".  "Gorilla" pimps on the other hand, are typically very sadistic, violent and brutal pimps."

Kotz added that Romeo pimps usually transition into Gorilla pimps.

Some of the signs that someone is being trafficked are:

  • Signs of torture/abuse
  • Brands or scarring
  • Chemical dependency
  • Malnourishment and poor dental health
  • Excess fear and distrust, especially of authority figures
  • Avoiding eye-contact
  • Wearing clothing not appropriate for the weather

The presenters also talked about the Minnesota "Safe Harbor Law". Under the law any Minnesotans under 18 who engage in the exchange of sexual activity for money or "something of value" are considered crime victims.

They also discussed the effect pornography has on the trafficking industry, calling it videotaped sex trafficking. Kotz cited a 1990 study by Minneapolis that found over half of trafficking victims had pornography made of them.

Kotz says the sexual assault center is always looking for donations or volunteers from the community.

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