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July 3, 2015

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Las Vegas is ‘ground zero’ for child sex trafficking, Metro vice officer says

Lauren - Former Prostitute Part II

Lauren, 18, with her five-month-old son at their home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun

The number of Nevada children dragged into prostitution is on the rise — a scary reality that will take a community effort to reverse, a Metro Police lieutenant told an interfaith group Wednesday.

The Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee hosted a discussion at the Islamic Society of Nevada about child sex trafficking.

Karen Hughes, a lieutenant in Metro Police’s vice section, asked the attendees, who represented diverse religious backgrounds, to spread the word about the existence of child sex trafficking in the valley.

“I consider Las Vegas ground zero,” Hughes said. “The landscape of Las Vegas brings those who traffic young women and boys into this hideous life to Las Vegas because there’s spending that occurs here … very discretional income.”

Last year, the department rescued 131 children in Las Vegas who had been forced into prostitution, Hughes said. Nearly three-quarters, or 74 percent, of those children were from Nevada, which Hughes said was an increase compared with previous years.

“These pimps and traffickers are recruiting out of our schools, out of our churches, out of our homes,” she said. “They’re everywhere.”

The cycle results in scores of children subjected to beatings, torture, gang rapes and sexual assaults, Hughes said. The youngest victim discovered by Metro last year was 13 years old.

One particularly brutal case involved a 15-year-old girl who suffered second- and third-degree burns across her back and arms after attempting to flee a pimp.

“These are our kids,” she said. “These are lives that are of value and need salvation.”

To that end, Hughes called on the faith community to help find safe housing for victims and to support proposed legislation that stiffens penalties for pimps.

Michon Martin, chief deputy attorney general for Nevada, said criminals have realized they often face harsher sentences for trafficking drugs than trafficking humans.

“If a pimp is turning out one of our babies, one of our children, that is the same as him raping that baby,” Martin said. “The penalty needs to be the same.”

A proposed bill addressing that issue and others related to sex trafficking will be introduced during the upcoming legislative session, Martin said.

Preventing child sex-trafficking is the interfaith group’s latest focus, said the Rev. Dennis Hutson of Advent United Methodist Church, who is on the group’s board of directors. The interfaith group meets monthly to discuss various issues plaguing the community.

“We are very concerned about child sex trafficking in particular,” he said. “As people of faith, we are mandated by our holy texts to be concerned about children.”

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  1. These pimps are pigs and should rot in jail. It's easy to spot them. I don't know why we don't do a "sweep" across the city and take care of business. If this was anytime before the mid-80's, they'd be taken care of properly...

  2. It would be difficult to cram any more logical fallacies and propaganda into this article if I tried. The "sex trafficking" myth is spinning wildly out of control. Claiming that "children" are being bought and sold as sex slaves only adds to the hysteria.

    The statement that Metro "rescued" 131 children from prostitution last year is not actually true. What they actually did was arrest the victims.

    Defining the victims as children is misleading and meant to incite fear. The majority of the "children" they arrested are 16 or 17 years old which means they can legally consent to sex. The "trafficking" dogma is based in the "innocence" fallacy: "rescuers" want to believe teenagers could never think of prostitution on their own. The same people claiming 17 year olds are children would demand they be tried as adults and executed if they committed a murder.

    Understand that 90% of under 18 prostitutes sell sex to survive, because laws prohibit their doing any other profitable work. They don't hook because some "pimp" abducted them from their perfect, loving parents; they hook because they ran away from some awful situation, probably abuse of some kind.

    Despite what the trafficking fanatics would have us believe, most prostitutes are not coerced. And they most certainly are not being recruited out of our schools and churches. That was a blatant lie.

    While I believe there are cases of children and teens being forced into prostitution, I believe they are extremely rare. Most of the "pimps" arrested are nothing more than oppurtunistic boyfriends of prostitutes not the slick predator with a stable of girls.

    There is no material difference between sex for compensation and sex for social reasons except that those who fall into the latter are less likely to use condoms. So, the state needs to pick an age of consent and stick to it, thus eliminating criminalization of motives for having sex.

    Among trafficking fanatics there is a creepy competition for the title of "leading hub for sex trafficking". New York, Dallas, Miami, Portland, Atlanta and Sacramento are all vying for this dubious distinction.

  3. @Birdiedreamin....The ACLU isn't "defending those handbillers on the strip!!!" You continue to show your complete lack of understanding about the Constirtution and the fundamental workings of our judicial system when you post that nonsense.

    The ACLU defends the United States Constitution from being violated by small-minded local governments. They do so regardless of who this benefits, because defending the Constitution benefits us all.

    The ACLU doesn't decide whether or not the handbillers are protected by the 1st Amendment, the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT makes that decision. Any beef you have is with them.

    If you have issues with the 1st Amendment, then perhaps you should focus your efforts on passing the 28th Amendment repealing free speech rights in this country.


    Brooke...You forgot Seattle, Detroit, Tampa, Denver and Omaha. each of these five cities have a cop, just Karen Hughes who claims their community is "'ground zero' for child sex trafficking."

    This is just more of the culture of dishonesty that exist at the LVMPD. Remember only a few days ago they tried to convince us that teenagers were pouring vodka into their eyes to get drunk. This is the department that lied to us about Gary Lee Hosey's blood alcohol level, lied to us about the success of the DARE program, lied to us about Buddy the Chimp...the list goes on and on and on and on and on.....

  4. 16 year-old kids don't have the cranial development to give consent--they are being used by pimps. But regardless, it is a cultural CRIME that "men" think little girls (and little boys) are sexy. A more serious crime when they think and act on their fantasies and actually pursue children for sex and/or sexual relationships. Our culture needs a knock upside the head: I was speaking with a guy (working on my home, contractor being paid to work) who bragged about his brother, a former SEAL now an Air Marshall and he was running on about all the "girls" he was dating--how sexy (contractor has seen the latest) and young, looks to be 20 or 21. The brother is about 35 years old. I asked a couple of things such as is his brother considering marriage or kids? If he's 35ish and running with teens....why can't he maintain a RELATIONSHIP? I suggested there may be something wrong with the bro. Perhaps big brother (contractor) could ask / encourage the guy to consider his options. You want to waste your productive years chasing tail or do you want to establish a PARTNERSHIP and have a close family? If so, look around. The "studly" guys of 45-50 who marry the 22-year-old cheerleader and have kids gets DUMPED when his physical prowess fades (55 or so) and she has physical needs for another 20-40 years. You WANT that for your younger brother?

  5. So, considering the above, real MEN who can handle a relationship, partnership, real marriage find ADULT WOMEN sexy. An extra inch on the waistline is NOT a turnoff. A few pounds on a fit woman who has the physical ability to can hold a job, have an income, do housework, care for kids, cook "for him", but might not have endless energy so he doesn't expect her to wait on him hand and foot--or however you describe Beaver Cleaver's Mom. But real Men of today handle their share of household work so she can maintain a career and a family. So she can feel appreciated--not feel like she's being used so he can park it on the couch, drink beer, and harp instructions for her to bring him another beer.

  6. @Roslenda..."16 year-old kids don't have the cranial development to give consent."

    Well the law, and about 1,000,000 16 year-olds disagree.

    Clearly your issue is with men your age not finding women your age attractive. And, while I'm sure their are many men who would rather spend time with someone with the same wealth of life experiences as they have, I have a feeling it's not really about all the older men dating women in their 20's but about one specific man who is now dating a women in her 20's.

  7. @Roslenda...It is normal for adult men and women to find older teenagers attractive. Because they have physically reached adulthood, there is nothing perverted about it.

    There are always going to be men who prefer the company of very young women. These men are usually very shallow and deeply insecure. They often end up resenting the young woman who chooses to be with them because they worry she has ulterior motives.

    Many men see prostitutes. That is a fact of life and it will NEVER change. Despite the hysteria about child sex trafficking, most men do not seek out underage prostitutes. The overwhelming majority of men who have paid for the services of underage girls believe they are seeing an adult woman.

    Most females, underage or not, CHOOSE to be involved with sex work. It is rightly illegal for underage girls to prostitute but that doesn't mean they are unable to consent. I don't understand why so many people want to believe that most sex workers have been somehow forced into the profession. They erroneously believe no woman could willingly choose prostitution. They don't realize that some women really don't find sex work horrible and degrading.

  8. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that pimps can just get any child that they set their eyes on. In the reader's mind they might imagine what a pimp looks like and sounds like and that they are the root of the problem. But I think the more educated readers are aware that the problem usually starts in the home of the neglected and abused child. In fact we've know that the church has been involved in child abuse on a massive scale. So I'm surprised that people of faith would even want to have this conversation.

    It's obvious that the state has to increase the risk that pimps as well as customers take when they get sexually involved with humans under the age of legal consent. In other words make the penalty so painful in a monetary and time consuming sense, that it removes any reasonable financial and/or sexual profit from the venture. There is probably a mathematical formula for this based on what the actual number perpetrators caught represent in percentage of the theoretical total number of people committing the crime. So the punishment for these individuals would make up for those not caught, i.e making the minimum time for such offenses around ten years. Of course these numbers would have to be adjusted on a regular basis but it is brutal, isn't it?

    Parents need to take personal responsibility and work with the schools to educate their children and stop putting them in harms way. Pay attention. If these actions were taken, it would not stop child sex trafficking in Nevada. But most people engaged in that sort of thing would go somewhere else.

  9. bghs: I didn't dispute the law. I'm commenting on the sad state of our culture where boys to aged men think dominance of young girls is a health life style. You think a 16 year old girl can't be coerced by a bright 25 year old who wants cheap thrills at her expense?

  10. Brooke: young girls don't recognize their options. K-12 has failed miserably as have parents who are uninvolved and parents who want to mold their daughters into exactly what they want--but don't know how. Kids are not informed or shown how to do for themselves--so kids who have troubled home life and kids who graduate high school and must do for themselves recognize few options. They run away or find themselves on their own without any idea of HOW TO take care of themselves. I don't dispute the biological attractions. I do dispute that we have no choice. What we admire in men is NOT their macho fixation on young kids. We admire, and should ensure they know, ADULT behavior and the abilities to CARE FOR OUR CHILDREN--not turn them into sex slaves. It is irrelevant that kids can legally "consent."

  11. Quit pretending have had a half-decade to do something about all of the Vice problem...

    You should be spending time making sure all of your people do their jobs - it is called basic supervision. Baughman and you should not be making money or spending time away from work that isn't getting done.

    The ineffectiveness of the LMVPD Vice Unit is an embarassment and the District Attorney could care less about human trafficking.

    Fraudulent enforcement is what needs to be reported.