I’ve spoke time and time again about the shady things that go in in Sunny Florida, but recently some other parts of the USA are showing up in the local reports. According to a report posted on the Sheboygan Press, Wisconsin has a major issue with human trafficking, but it’s very underground. The report was so disturbing I wanted to make light of it during my quest to create awareness for human trafficking, something I’m growing more passionate about with each bust I read.
Wisconsin’s Human Trafficking Issues are Very Bad
The story talks about how a woman named Colleen Stratton met her trafficker when she was just shy of age 25. Raised in an affluent city called Kohler, she was a victim of abuse, addiction, and self-harm, she was thin on options when she met the man in you guessed it, Florida. Her parents had shipped her there to deal with her addiction, and if you didn’t know already, Florida has many (some legit and some highly questionable) addiction treatment centers that will gladly take your money and promise to clean you up. However, in most cases, these places are places where even more connections to the dark side are made, but that’s an entirely different article for another day. When Stratton decided to ditch the treatment and stay in a hotel, the trouble started.
She met this man when she was detoxing from drugs and alcohol and pretty much homeless. He had promised her that he was going to help her get back on her feet, only to start raping her a week later along with other people. He had a stable of four other women, this was far from his first rodeo. He’d bring her around to truck stops, motels, and down the streets. In her mind, Stratton was simply being a prostitute in exchange for a place to stay and to avoid getting beaten.
Sadly, she’d entered a very dark world. It’s called Human Trafficking. There were an estimated 40.3 million victims of this crime in 2016, and according to the story, it’s happening in places like Wisconsin, which shows how widespread this really is.
Sometimes women are even tied up by ropes, chains, or other items. They are often kept in basements or stamped like cattle with a bar code. You’ll see images in Google if you search for “human trafficking.” Women are being sold, owned, and trapped, and they live in constant fear, almost like a horror film.
Women are bound, hands tied with chains or ropes. They look dirty, as if they’ve been kept in a basement. Some are wide-eyed with fear. Others are stamped with a bar code.
If you type “human trafficking” into an image search on your computer, these are the pictures you will see. The message is clear: Women and children are being sold. They’re trapped. These are the makings of a horror film.
The craziest part of this horrific act is that not all of this is for the sex trade. While I do focus on that (and have it in mind when I report on busts like this one), some of these instances actually have people doing other things like work on farms in Wisconsin. Recently five people were charged in Milwaukee for doing just that to some Mexican nationals.
In Wisconsin alone, human trafficking has been documented in all 72 counties. It’s widespread and rampant. The National Human Trafficking Hotline (contact info on that link) was contacted 122 times involving more or less 64 cases just in the first two quarters of 2018 alone in Wisconsin. There have been over 1,500 calls since 2007.
Sadly, some people don’t even realize they are being trafficked and many of these crimes go unreported.
Average Age of People Being Trafficked is Very Low
For boys, it’s about 11 or 12, and for girls, it’s 12 or 13.
People can help by trying to identify people who may be human trafficked. For example, if a person who works in a hospital knows what to look for, they could stop this crime. Usually a branding of some sort is an obvious tell. Also, when a victim starts calling someone other than their biological father “daddy” it’s a major issue. Lastly, when they don’t properly identify themselves out of fear, that can raise a red flag. With many of the victims having run away from their own home and perhaps being in fear of being discovered, they don’t use their real names frequently.
Training officers weighed in and also said that spotting a high number of females in one car, with drugs, is a tell tale sign as well. These are things that raise eyebrows during traffic stops. The crime moves around a lot, since the pimps and traffickers are often shuffling the women around to John’s who pay for sex.
Another story told in the article talks about an abuse victim named Lacey Meyers who was befriended by a female who advised her to live with a new man who would take care of her. As you can assume, a while later he had a gun in her mouth, said “you will do what I say” and even went as far as calling her mother and told her she’d never see him again.
She was a heroin user and the trafficker took advantage of this, using it as leverage. He drove her around the State of Wisconsin for sex. All over. She was lost at times. They even crossed State lines. Luckily for her, she got caught stealing (intentionally) and ended up sharing info with the FBI, who already had this man on their radar.
The best part of the story is that it has a happy ending.
Meyers runs a nonprofit called Lacey’s Hope Project, and she’s doing big things by bringing awareness to sex trafficking. She routinely speaks at schools, churches, and police groups on what to look for when it comes to this ugly trade. Great work, Lacey!
I may be a wild and crazy guy, and love talking about bachelor parties, strip clubs, and the such, but not when it has it’s downside and when people are forced into that risky business. I don’t mean to be the grim reaper today but I just see so many stories about this and I want to create awareness. Some day, I’ll get back to seeing good stories about people hooking up for easy sex on websites and just roll with it. But for now, the news is just littered with trash like this.