Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval teamed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to mark National Human Trafficking Awareness Day by wearing blue. The announcement was made at two o’clock on January 12 outside the DMV’s Sahara branch office.
“Las Vegas is a welcoming gateway for human trafficking due to tourism,” DMV spokesperson Alexandra Smith told reporters. “The good aspect about the Department of Motor Vehicles is we have interactions with 100% of the populous. This gives us an unprecedented occasion to touch a broad range of persons.”
Since summer 2017, the DMV distributed “Truckers Against Trafficking” postcards to industrial drivers outline how they may report conduct seen on the roads, filling stations and other areas in Nevada.
Takes More Than Just Blue
A twelve-month long study of Las Vegas sex trafficking shows it will take more than wearing blue to end the problem.
Of 190 sex-trafficking victims in Las Vegas, Arizona State University found over two-thirds were under 18 and one in five was brought to Nevada from somewhere else.
“These are kids nobody cares enough about to report missing,” Laura Meltzer, a Las Vegas police officer told CBS News. “As a mother, that tears at my heart.”
Elynne Greene, a victim advocate with LVMPD, calls them ‘throwaway kids.’ Greene says many of the underage victims or the result of a failed foster care system.
In Nevada, the average victim’s age was 16. The youngest, 12.
One in three victims was recruited by a boyfriend-turned-abusers and over half of the victims report being forced into sex trafficking. The average trafficker is 29, and 80% had a criminal record. Most of the traffickers, like their victims, come to Las Vegas from outside Nevada.
The study also alluded to difficulties law enforcement has in prosecuting accused sex traffickers. Just 34 of the 160 cases studied resulted in convictions. “It’s a fight that is never easy,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the CBS reporter.
“We have to find new tools to get traffickers off the streets,” Roe Sepowitz said. “Else he’ll find someone else to traffic in five minutes.”