Task force focused on group of minors who are being trafficked

Task force focused on group of minors who are being trafficked
Task force focused on group of minors who are being trafficked(KFYR-TV)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:27 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Bismarck Police Department is seeing a trend in run-away juveniles becoming victims of human trafficking around the state.

They say the minors have been recruiting each other and now nearly a dozen Bismarck youth are being sold for sex and drugs.

Task force leaders say they are now focused on the youth as traffickers are targeting children who are running away from home.

The task force is focused on a group of 20 children who are being moved around the state as human traffickers.

Officers on patrol are always on the look-out for runaway teens who are secretly being sexually exploited for drugs or shelter.

“They are being given drugs, alcohol, or a place to stay and they’re trading sex for those things. Which of course they need that if they are runaways,” said Task force Sgt. Mike Bolme, an investigator with the Bismarck Police Department.

Recently, the task force has seen a trend in juveniles recruiting each other.

“Some of those youths have turned into victim offenders. In which they are doing the recruiting, they’re showing the girls how to engage in these activities,” said Bolme.

Bolme says the trafficking works in a circuit. The victims will travel to North Dakota hub cities every couple of days.

During investigations, the task force works to educate the victims to help them get out of the trafficking scene.

“We try to have a conversation with them and tell when what resources are available so they can get the proper help they need,” said Stacy Schaffer, task force member and 31:8 Project founder.

However, some resources in North Dakota are hard to find.

“It’s challenging to sometimes find that shelter, as that is one area that we lack in the state,” said Schaffer.

Other members of the task force and school resource officers are educating students about the warning signs of human trafficking.

The task force urges anyone who may know about a human trafficking incident or is involved themselves should call local law enforcement or report it to the national human trafficking hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.

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