WKYT Investigates: AG warns sex trafficking will increase during solar eclipse

Published: Aug. 7, 2017 at 4:52 PM EDT
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The Kentucky Attorney General's office has concern that sex trafficking will increase with the amount of people that will be in Hopkinsville for the solar eclipse. "Through no fault of their own, we see increased trafficking, we see increased regional trafficking, and we see people being brought in from the outside," explained Attorney General Andy Beshear.

The attorney general's office has been conducting trainings across the state on how to spot human trafficking--which is someone using force, fraud or coercion to cause a sex act. The A-G's office have put a special focus on Western Kentucky recently, since the world's attention will be on Hopkinsville on August 21st for the solar eclipse.

"What I would imagine is that law enforcement would be looking at things like backpage.com and any other websites that we see being used. The majority of this activity happens online," Allyson Cox Taylor with the office of child abuse and human trafficking prevention and prosecution explained. "So people who weren't trafficking before may decide, there's people in town that are anonymous. People we don't know from another place and this is an opportunity to make money," she said.

Taylor said not only will locals take advantage of new faces in town, but people from out of town will migrate to the spotlight. "There are groups of traffickers who move a circuit, who follow different events, so they might go to the Indy 500, the Super Bowl, The Derby, all these things where they know there will be more people in town with money."

She said victims of sex trafficking usually don't know their home address and may not know their current location. They also may have more than one cell phone, and more than one key for hotel room. They also may have prepaid credit cards used for backpage.com. "The folks who monitor that locally, and the cyber crimes detectives from our office will be able to use the technology that they have to identify who's new, who not been posting for a while, and look at those pictures and see who looks young," explained Taylor.

"This can also be an opportunity to rescue a number of children that are out there being trafficked," Beshear said.

Taylor agreed, "It's a good opportunity to bring awareness to something that happens every day."