BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Sex trafficking is a growing problem in Baltimore, according to a new report by the Abell Foundation.
Monique Griego has more on what needs to change.
Last year inside a Silver Spring hotel room, a 15-year-old girl was forced to have sex with numerous men after she was lured from New York to Montgomery County for a fake modeling job. She ended up a victim of human sex trafficking, a crime that’s growing in Baltimore and throughout the state.
“Everywhere we’re looking, we’re finding it,” said Melissa Snow. “We are finding cases in Montgomery County, AA County, Prince George’s County, on the Eastern Shore.”
Melissa Snow is the director of the anti-trafficking program at Turnaround. The nonprofit recently partnered with the Abell Foundation to investigate human trafficking in Maryland.
Snow says within just a year and a half, Turnaround has helped more than 120 women.
“We know that for every young girl we find, for every young boy, there are potentially another hundred,” said Snow.
Based solely on this study, Turnaround says in Maryland, 95 percent of the victims they’ve helped were U.S. citizens, women and children.
“They are being targeted by traffickers at malls, at bus stops, online at Facebook,” said Snow.
One of the most recent human trafficking cases in Baltimore City was linked to the Block in downtown Baltimore. The girls were allegedly lured from the mall, then forced to strip and have sex with men.
“They took their IDs, their birth certificates, they didn’t have any money and confiscated their phones,” said Snow. “Then all of a sudden, it was, `If you ever want to see your family again or get back home, this is what you have to do.'”
She hopes getting the word out about these crimes will encourage people to report suspicious activity.
Turnaround is currently working on legislation that would allow them to take money from convicted traffickers and give it back to their victims.
On Jan. 30, Turnaround is having a lobbying rally for that new legislation.