LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)- In 2007, when human trafficking became a crime, there was just one case prosecuted in Kentucky. So far this year, there have been twelve cases prosecuted.
"If your freedom is taken away, that is the essence of this crime," said Gretchen Hunt, staff attorney for the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. She's been working with victims of human trafficking for years--both sex trafficking and labor.
"They can be difficult cases to prosecute but they're cases that have to be investigated," Hunt said.
US Attorney Kerry Harvey says they prosecute a number of human trafficking cases in his eastern district. He says the cases are challenging because of cultural differences and because many times the victims have been conditioned to keep quiet.
"Hhe idea that that sort of thing would occur right here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2013 is just so outragious," Harvey said.
Hunt says labor trafficking, specifically, tends to be harder to identify. She says she's seeing cases of labor trafficking from Pikeville to Paducah.
"There's always been slavery unfortunately in the US, we just thought that it had ended," Hunt said.