LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – On what many spent as a carefree afternoon, a group walked downtown Louisville to draw attention to an issue weighing heavily on their hearts.
Human trafficking commonly referred to as modern day slavery which often manifests as forced labor or sex with victims ranging from young children to seniors.
"We are centrally located between larger cities and out interstate system make it easy for these traffickers to bring girls to stop in Louisville. Set up shop for a few weeks, a few days whatever they want to do. Make their money and when it slows down they pack up and head to the next city,” Sgt. Andre Bottoms said.
Saturday’s walk was organized by students from Jefferson Community Technical College who brought together other organizations whose goal is to eliminate human trafficking.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to help people know what it looks like, because they're many different faces,” a student said.
As hundreds of thousands prepare to descend on the region for Kentucky Derby events, volunteers want the community to be vigilant because not everyone will be looking to put their money on the races.
Sites like CraigsList and Backpage regularly advertise sex services.
“They know where to go to find it,” Laura Swane with Just One Ministries said.
Some of those services for sale aren’t freely given.
The most recent numbers provided by the FBI show 2,515 sex and labor trafficking cases investigated by federal task forces from 2008 to 2010. The actual cases of human trafficking are likely higher. Many state and local law enforcement agencies don’t record human trafficking specifically instead recording the incidents of crime often go along with them like prostitution, child porn and kidnapping.
“It’s getting worse and it keeps happening more and it’s not getting better and until the general public gets it, and understands what’s happening and decides they won’t take it anymore we’re not going to have change,” Amy Leenerts of Free to Hope said.