BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Advocates for the victims of human trafficking are stepping up their game.
Last year, Maryland ranked fourth in the number of sex trafficking cases per capita, according to the National Trafficking Hotline.READ MORE: With Cases And Hospitalizations Declining, Pittman Defends Anne Arundel County Mask Mandate In Face Of Lawsuit
19 counts of human trafficking and prostitution involving adult women and underage girls were lodged against a Baltimore man in June.
Maryland’s location in the I-95 corridor makes it a prime spot for human trafficking and a focal point for raising up shelter programs for the victims of human trafficking.
The Samaritan Women is at the forefront of victim services.
“Maryland has a way to go. Our victims services landscape is very, very sparse,” said founder Jeanne Allert.
Melissa Yao is the director of the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance, dedicated to better collaboration between agencies.READ MORE: Maryland Senate Committee To Hear Testimony On Expanded 'Slow Down, Move Over' Law
“The Department of Justice says there’s between 100 and 300,000 potential victims here in the U.S. alone,” Yao said. “It’s a huge industry and we have only been able to identify less than 500 programs in the country serving these victims. We’ve got to do the best we can by connecting and doing it together,”
Gov. Hogan recently announced Maryland’s first anti-human trafficking director.
“As a father, I’m heartbroken for these daughters and sons who are being victimized and brutalized,” Hogan said in a recent news conference.
As of now, Maryland has only two formal shelters for human trafficking victims.
There were 115 cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Maryland: 3,200+ New Cases As Hospitalizations & Positivity Rate Dip