COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A Task Force with the mission of helping Human Trafficking victims is taking action after our hidden camera investigation into prostitution at some local businesses.
The Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado told us we've uncovered a much deeper problem than most of the community realizes - there are human trafficking victims in our region being forced to have sex for money.
Task Force Chairwoman Betty Edwards told us they want to raise awareness and money for law enforcement to crackdown. She said the group will look into grants for local law enforcement.
Metro VNI told Target 13 Investigates they don't have the money anymore to run stings like we did.
Edwards said one officer told the Task Force there are sex trafficking victims in the Colorado Springs area, but law enforcement's hands are tied.
"He says, 'I'm sure that they (prostitutes) were trafficked,' but he said the way the laws are written and the way things are now, 'there was nothing I could do about it,' Edwards told us.
During a Tuesday night Task Force meeting they were raising awareness about the the Colorado Springs non-profit Restore Innocence. The founders, Michelle and Jason Korth, are trying to build a home for the children who are the victims of human trafficking in Colorado.
"Most people think, 'Oh it's over in Cambodia or some other foreign country,' but it's right here, it's right next door, it's in Colorado Springs," said Michelle Korth.
Like the Task Force, the Korths have met victims and work with law enforcement. They told us most people don't realize the victims are being manipulated to keep them from getting help.
"They (pimps) instill in them (victims) fear of law enforcement," said Jason Korth, describing why the victims don't just contact police. The federal government's 2010 human trafficking report confirms most victims are manipulated to keep them from seeking help. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/142746.htm
Target 13 Investigates has not been able to independently verify any of the prostitutes who offered our employee sex are human trafficking victims. Some officers tell us they wouldn't doubt it.
Colorado lawmakers are now trying to attack the prostitution problem by beefing up penalties against "Johns" - raising the fine to $5,000.
Target 13 Investigates is talking to a couple of high ranking lawmakers from our region, and we'll get you more information in a few a days.