Phoenix, Arizona – January is National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month. County Attorney Allister Adel will host a special event Friday, Jan. 24 at 10:30 am in front of county offices, located at 225 W. Madison.
The event is being hosted to bring awareness to the vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation. Attendees will use red sand to create a visual memorial that will raise awareness about human trafficking in our community.
MCAO is working to keep families safe by holding offenders accountable, but just as importantly, our expert prosecutors are out in the community providing education and training on the warning signs of sex trafficking and how we as parents, and as a community, can protect children from falling victim to predators.
Prosecutors in MCAO’s Sex Crimes Bureau, who specialize in child trafficking cases, provide presentations to law enforcement and other first responders, teachers, nurses, advocates and government agencies on what they need to know to spot the signs and how to handle the situation if they suspect someone is being trafficked.
While many victims of trafficking come from unstable or group homes, the office has seen an increased use of social media as a conduit for predators to find their victims. Signs that a young person is being trafficked could include finding extra money or new items like purses and clothes, hotel keys or multiple phones in their possession. They may also start hanging around with someone they introduce as a new “friend” or “boyfriend” who may be older and seem controlling. It is important to know who kids spend their time with and where they are going.
According to sentencing guidelines passed by the Arizona Legislature, defendants can potentially be charged with multiple counts, including child prostitution, for acts such as receiving the earnings from a minor engaged in prostitution, or transporting a minor with the intent that they engage in prostitution, as well as charges of sexual conduct with a minor. They can also be charged with transporting adult females or males for prostitution, compelling, inducing or encouraging them to engage in acts of prostitution, and receiving the earnings from their acts of prostitution.
Arizona’s guidelines have a separate and higher sentencing structure for traffickers:
- From 10 to 24 years for a first offense
- From 17 to 24 years for a trafficker with a prior felony conviction
- From 24 years to 38 years for a trafficker with two or more prior felonies
- Also, if a victim is under 14: the range is 13 to 27 years
MCAO is also an active member of the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force seeks to find incidents of human trafficking, identify ways to end these crimes and help victims of the sex trade and forced labor, promoting greater collaboration with law enforcement, state agencies and the community-at-large; and raising public awareness about victims’ services and prevention and well as promoting legislation to address related issues.
If you suspect someone is being trafficked, call your local law enforcement or the Department of Child Safety at 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445).
If you would like to schedule a training, you can call (602) 506-3411, or place a request for our Community Education team at this link: MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/CommunityEducation