We just continue to hear about these amazing victories from law enforcement agencies; and now the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department says that they've brought down 86 criminals in sweeping sex trafficking bust that should leave an impression into the minds of those who still remain in the lucrative criminal syndicate.
Over a period of ten days, undercover Phoenix Police Detectives operated all across the city spreading the word of a new “massage parlor” that was opened attracting both clientele interested in purchasing sex slaves; and seeking human-traffickers who have an army of children and women already available as prostitutes to be hired into their operation.
The operation began when authorities busted an illegal massage parlor along the 2600 block of Greenway Road in north Phoenix. A couple of weeks later, Detectives went into the massage business using undercover officers.
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"We reopened one, a fake one A fake one that was run by police detectives," Vice Commander Lt. Brian Freudenthal said.
The sting was theorized to attract those human-traffickers, to make a deal for some of the individuals they've forced into sexual slavery in the region, where it's considered a hotbed of human trafficking activity.
For years law enforcement agencies in Arizona have conducted similar sting operations, using online escort ads on websites such as Craigslist and Backpage.
Officials said that the operation in Phoenix was mirrored on efforts in other cities and counties; in which they believe the individuals arrested in the operation will give them the information to lead them further into the criminal underworld in their efforts bring down more sex and human trafficking leadership in the weeks and months ahead.
"We had over 1,000 hits on the advertisement alone," Freudenthal said. "And we had a lot of phone calls, individuals trying to make appointments."
Several federal agencies have assisted in training the Phoenix Police Department to recognize prostitutes and escorts who are forced into the trade by the traffickers, either by threat, holding another family member hostage, through forced drug addiction that essentially creates a zombie-like atmosphere of command; or even through kidnapping the women or children at a young age.
The ages of the 86 criminals arrested range from 22-years-old to 76-years-old; according to police.
From customers wanting to purchase females and children, to street level drug dealers that had connections to higher-ranking members of organized crime, to pimps, to prostitutes, to escorts, to sex and human traffickers themselves; were all rounded up during the operation that the Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton calls an “outstanding success”.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">There’s more: Just today, I joined the <a href="https://twitter.com/phoenixpolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@phoenixpolice</a> to announce the arrest of more than 80 people in a vice operation that perpetuated trafficking. <a href="https://t.co/WLImmbyjxi">pic.twitter.com/WLImmbyjxi</a></p>— Greg Stanton (@MayorStanton) <a href="https://twitter.com/MayorStanton/status/951547366720483328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 11, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring and Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams joined Mayor Stanton for a press conference, where the Mayor gave a major thank you to 5br Phoenix Police Department, saying, "We're here to talk about the successful police work done," Stanton said.
Councilman Waring is the head of the Human Trafficking Task Force in Phoenix, which was created four years ago in advance of the Super Bowl appearing in Glendale, as a means of curbing the increase of sex trafficking in the area as a result of the increased tourism.
"Sex trafficking is a disgusting, abhorrent practice," Waring said. "The stories we hear are appalling."
Arizona suffers from what's called an <i>epidemic of sex trafficking</i>, where both women and children are forced into the trade.
Police Chief Williams believes that several high-ranking sex traffickers were taken into custody in this operation, as well as multiple women and children being able to gain freedom as a result; saying that, “Every arrest counts. Every victim we free from coercion counts.”
Phoenix Police Lt. Brian Freudenthal said these types of criminal organizations not only inflict damage on women and children but also the small businesses who are attempting to operate without sex trades in their midst; by causing a level of distrust amongst the public harming their sales.
"Until we actually impact the demand, it's never going to stop," said the Phoenix Police Department Vice Division Commander.
"This is not a victimless crime," he said. "It affects everyone from the victims to legitimate massage parlors."
As National Human Trafficking Awareness Month launches is January, Phoenix Police Vice Officers are on full alert.
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If you see someone who you may be a victim of Human Trafficking or potentially forced into prostitution, or have any additional information you can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
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