Human trafficking explored in the state of Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Human trafficking explored in the state of Mississippi

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Nearly 100 Jackson residents received a lesson in human trafficking Saturday morning at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Advocates for Freedom, or AFF, says it has helped 92 victims in Mississippi, in just two years.

"A human being can be sold 30 to 40 times a day, drugs only once," explained AFF Executive Director and Founder Susie Harvill.

Most victims are children and teens. Advocates say it's critical police find them within 72 hours.

AFF say human traffickers can be any age or ethnic groups. Harvill says there are even grandmother pimps.

She says Mississippi is a prime location for traffickers to pick up and drop off victims. The transportation system, including airports, that bring them in according to Harvill.

"Jackson is the only really big city, that's their major hub, and then on the coast we have I-10 which is known as the major corridor for moving trafficked victims across I-10. We have ports that they can sneak people in through that way and waterways."

Sex and labor human trafficking occurs in Mississippi, according to Harvill. Recently a Jackson mother told WLBT her daughter was taken to Florida in a human trafficking ring.

Harvill says some abductors place prices for people on the Internet and use tattoos to mark the victims as property.

The illegal trade happens in every state.

"The only quota that I have seen in the state of Mississippi is $1,000 a day. Once they go out in the morning, they must earn $1,000 before they can return," explained Harvill when asked how much cash victims can bring in for abductors.

Harvill says human trafficking is nearly a $35 billion business in the U.S., where the crime is growing.

She says victims can remain in the U.S. or be taken to a foreign country.

Many of those abducted are tortured and drugged. They also lose trust in everyone around them and aren't usually willing to talk to police. 

The group at Saturday's hopes awareness in the state will go beyond shock and confusion. They believe action needs to be taken in order to help human trafficking victims.

"One of the things we're praying and dreaming for is the establishment of a hope house, a place for people to go for restoration," said Covenant Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Steve Burton.

Harvill says there are currently bills in the Mississippi legislature to strengthen the state's human trafficking laws. 

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