Minnesota has launched a research study into sex trafficking trends that focus on sex trafficking buyers. Uncovering important information on sex buyers will help to reduce sex trafficking within the state.
Minnesota Sex Trafficking Trends
The Urban Research Outreach Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota recently released a report that addresses sex buyers, an often overlooked aspect of sex trafficking. Research into Minnesota sex trafficking trends focuses on the people who buy sex to find out who the buyers are, what areas they live in, where they purchase sex in Minnesota, how they enter the marketplace, and what type of sexual services they are seeking. During research, data was gathered from 157 experts who work to combat Minnesota sex trafficking including law enforcement officials, attorneys, and advocacy agencies. Research data was also taken from Minnesota Court cases involving all sex trafficking cases between 2010 and 2015, as well as media coverage and online advertisements.
According to research, more than 375,000 people have purchased sex at least once in their lifetime, and over 25,000 people have purchased sex within the past year. The study reveals that the majority of sex buyers are married white males between the ages of 35 and 45, with a high percentage who are employed within well-paying professional fields. Research into sex trafficking trends shows that victims are often sold through online advertisements and word of mouth through criminal networks. A Minnesota sex crime attorney often handles cases that involve gang affiliation as well.
According to Minnesota sex trafficking statistics reported by law enforcement agencies:
- The average age of sex trafficking victims is between 13 and 18 years of age. Although boys and girls are victims of sex trafficking, the majority of victims are young girls who are 13 to 15 years of age.
- In 2013, more than 200 young girls were sold for sex every month in Minnesota. Most buyers found the victims through internet advertising and local escort services. This figure does not include prostitution activity seen by a sex crime attorney that occurs through gang affiliations and street solicitation.
- In 2014, investigations across three states revealed that Minneapolis and St. Paul, the twin cities, account for one of the country’s largest domestic prostitution areas that’s responsible for trafficking thousands of young victims throughout the United States.
Sex Trafficking in the Twin Cities
The Twin Cities account for the second-largest economic center in the Midwest, next to Chicago. It’s no surprise to federal investigators that Minneapolis and St. Paul rank among the top 13 U.S. areas for sex trafficking and child pornography crimes. Within a three-month FBI investigation in 2016, a federal task force uncovered over 15,000 online solicitations in Washington County alone. According to investigators, online solicitations often spiked during warmer spring and summer months, on weekends, and during holidays.
Investigations into sex trafficking in the Twin Cities revealed that many victims of sex trafficking are vulnerable teenagers who are solicited by gangs and individual perpetrators. Many victims become easy targets due to their young age and lack of family or financial support. Many vulnerable teens are runaways who are living on the streets, so they don’t have the financial means or emotional support to escape sex trafficking rings once they’re lured in. Investigations show that some victims, mostly girls, are as young as 12 years of age and have no help to escape the cycle of physical and sexual abuse that’s associated with sex trafficking crimes.
Sex Trafficking Prevention
As a major economic force within the U.S., the Twin Cities are working hard to reduce the problems with sex trafficking in their communities. Recently, Minneapolis announced plans for an anti-trafficking project. Community leaders proposed a $1 million plan to prevent sex trafficking crimes within the city. With the upcoming Super Bowl planned in Minneapolis, city officials and law enforcement agencies are concerned about a rise in sex trafficking crimes, as well as other crimes, that occur with large city events that draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area.
Minneapolis plans to use the $1 million to combat sex trafficking in the following ways:
- Creating educational billboards
- Purchasing more beds for emergency shelters
- Installing a local hotline for the public
- Increasing street outreach to potential sex trafficking victims
- Increasing sex trafficking awareness training for law enforcement
- Enhancing statewide law enforcement stings to catch perpetrators and buyers
Experts at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center state that online advertisements promoting all types of sex crimes always increase during major events in U.S. cities. City leaders hope to reduce the number of advertisements and sex trafficking crimes with their anti-trafficking project. Although anti-trafficking efforts have been in place for years in the Twin Cities, officials hope that the current project will reduce the number of victims.