Experts warn predators use online ads to lure youth into human trafficking

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local advocacy group said human trafficking is up around the country. The director of the group told KRQE News 13 all of the cases she has seen started the same way — online. Experts said predators know teens are easily accessible online, so they lure them in with ads promising quick cash.

The Attorney General’s Office said it has prosecuted similar cases that involved ads targeting teens.

Lynn Sanchez, Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative, warns if an online ad sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“The last case I know of in New Mexico, this young woman ended up in Arizona and was held against her will because she had responded to one of those ads,” said Sanchez.

So what are some signs of a suspicious ad? She said predators target youth, but do not have an affiliation, and encourage teens to bring a friend.

“Asking for youth to respond who are 14 to 18 or 18 to 23,” said Sanchez. “That don’t have some sort of legitimate backing, like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or it’s not part of a youth organization.”

Sanchez calls human trafficking an “obscure” crime that is difficult for law enforcement to tackle, and said awareness is the best place to start.

“Every single community to be on the lookout for it, then I think then we can start effectively combating trafficking in our state,” said Sanchez.

The advocacy group said its safe house in Santa Fe currently has two 16-year-old’s and two 17-year-old’s who were rescued from Albuquerque.

They urge anyone who needs help or information to call or text the state hotline at (505) GET-FREE.

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