But the highway — which stretches miles across Indiana — also is a route for items and people exchanged on the black market, including victims of human trafficking who are sold into prostitution and deposited in Lafayette due to the city's proximity to Indianapolis and Chicago. This illegal activity is typically hidden from the public eye — facilitated through secret websites and carried out at hotels tucked away near the interstate.
While responding to a disturbance last weekhowever, Lafayette police officers stumbled upon a potential human trafficking victim and, after further investigation, uncovered a suspected prostitution ring spearheaded by two men. Due to the mobile nature of society — and the prevalence of the "dark side" of the Internet — authorities said this week that such crimes can be arranged and perpetrated in the smallest of communities.
Lafayette is not immune. The of complaints and arrests regarding human trafficking and prostitution in Lafayette weren't immediately available.
Elyvin C. Jackson, 30, and Cornelius M. Thompson, 33, were arrested May 16 and charged Monday with several felonies, including sexual trafficking of a minor and promotion of prostitution. Court documents filed in the case include statements from a victim, who was 17 years old in February when she met the duo in Chicago.
The two reportedly "told her that she could make money as a prostitute in Lafayette," driving her to calls at various hotels in the city, according to a probable cause affidavit. Three more victims made statements referenced in court documents, saying they paid a cut of their money to one or both of the men after submitting to sexual encounters arranged on the Internet.
Initial police reports suggest Jackson is from Conway, Ark. Both are listed in court documents, however, as living at a residence in the block of Joseph Street. Eventually, victims make it to their destination, which law enforcement officials suspect — in the case of this weekend — could be the th running of the Indianapolis Authorities warned in the weeks leading up to the race that the one-day, sold-out sporting event — which will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city — will attract human traffickers promoting their illegal businesses.
Given the likelihood of abuse, the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force launched an awareness campaign featuring billboards, bus advertisements and fliers dispelling myths about the industry, according to IndyStar.
One message re, "She looked She's not. During the NCAA's Final Four tournament last year, law enforcement recorded a spike of a day offering "escort services" on Back. Brian Gossard said. But now it's free access.
Before they're advertised online, however, most victims are contacted via the Internet as they search for a better home life. The majority of children who fall victim to human trafficking are runaways — many of whom have experienced sexual or domestic abuse by parents, caregivers or trusted individuals.
While researching her master's thesis, Bow surveyed the services available in Indiana and found only four shelters — none in Lafayette — dedicated to victims of human trafficking. Nationwide, 1, beds are available for such victims, who Bow said need special psychological treatment once sheltered.
Due to its heinous nature, law enforcement and state legislators have focused their attention on those who perpetrate the crime. A bill co-authored last year by Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette, provides protection from prostitution charges for victims younger than A new bill, authored by Truitt this year, paves the way for law enforcement to file misdemeanor charges against those who intentionally visit or maintain buildings where the crime takes place.
With a prior conviction, an individual could face a felony for visiting or maintaining a common nuisance. Two women were arrested in after allegedly advertising "their services" through a free classifieds website.
A Sonora, Mexico, man was arrested in after a traffic stop on I near Dayton. Police said he was the driver of a five-passenger SUV that contained 12 people — among them and year-old girls — and was smuggling the victims from Arizona to Chicago.
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