On lookout for sex trafficking in Tucson

(Arizona's Family)
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It is that time of the year when major events take place in Tucson.

Folks from all over the world come to experience what Tucson has to offer, including the gem shows.

Major events like that, plus the Super Bowl in Phoenix, can attract sex traffickers.

“People think we are flooded with cases coming in here and we are not which can be good. Because obviously, we don’t want that {human trafficking}. But it is still happening, and it is either not getting reported or going undetected,” said Tucson Police Department Det. Jennifer Crawford.

Crawford said that is why reporting anything suspicious is key. But first, you need to know what to look for.

“You see them and the person just does not look like their parent. Maybe a juvenile with a lot of fancy clothing or name-brand items that they normally could not afford or with multiple electronics or phones,” Crawford said.

Crawford said adults being trafficked can be more difficult to spot.

“Lack of eye contact. Maybe looking at the other person to see if they are allowed to talk to that person. Looking down. Maybe they have injuries and bruises and look malnourished,” she said.

Some victims do not realize they are being trafficked while others do. Regardless, Katlyn Monje with Southern Arizona Against Sexual Assault said it is not easy for them to leave.

“That is an important decision, but it is not always safe for them to just leave,” she said. “It is very very common that they have been threatened. Their lives have been threatened, their family’s lives.”

Southern Arizona Against Sexual Assault provides services for men, women, and children who are victims.

“And to be able to say this is not your fault,” said Monje.

Victims are sometimes unable to call for help but they are able to walk into the clinic.

“We work really quickly to pull them out of the lobby so if anyone were to follow them, they cannot look through the lobby doors and walk into the lobby to see them sitting there. So we pull them into a safe space like the room we are in and allow them to decompress,” Monje said.

TPD said if you see something, say something. If something does not seem right, report it to the police.