Community forum on human trafficking raises awareness

, Written by Roma Villavicencio, Posted: Wed, January 22 2014 at 11:02 PM, Updated: Wed, January 22 2014 at 11:31 PM

Jackson County, Ore.-- Medford Police say Interstate 5 is a corridor for an unimaginable crime, human trafficking.

"Everyday in the Southern Oregon region in Medford, seven days a week, 24 hours a day there is sex for sale," said Detective Jim Williams.

Williams said he's getting more reports of human trafficking in and out of the rogue valley. Some cases involving kids.

"Currently I am investigating a case or cases that are involving underage high school students contacted for the purpose of sexual exploitation," said Williams.

Ashland resident Amy Patton said she read about the problem in a book club and decided to do something about it. Wednesday night she put together a forum at the First Presbyterian church to educate others about the issue.

"We were thinking "wow," we didn't know anything about this we ought to bring this to peoples attention," said Patton.

About fifty people went to the event Wednesday. They watched a video that showed one victim's story and heard Detective Williams speak about the problem.

One resident couldn't believe what she heard.

"I feel glad that I don't have any daughters for one thing, personally I don't think that I feel any less safe but I think I would if I had daughters," said Joanne Costantino.

Police said it's not just female victims. Men are being targeted too and social media is making it easier for predators who are getting harder to track. Especially when children are involved.

"It's hard for us to look at the under 18 age group because that's more of a harder world that isn't exposed," continued Williams.

 Patton hopes education might be the first step in stopping this trend.

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About the Author

Roma Villavicencio

NBC5 News reporter Roma Villavicencio comes from Southern California where she reported for Garden Grove TV Channel 3.

She is a graduate of the journalism/communications program at Cal State Fullerton.

Roma is very proud of her Mexican heritage. She is bi-lingual and looks forward to serving our Hispanic community.

She loves food, music and the San Francisco Giants. She lives by the slogan “viva la vida!”

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