A pastor at one Greenwood church warned parishioners on Sunday about the dangers of human trafficking during the upcoming Super Bowl after three prostitution arrests
were made at two Johnson County hotels last week.
When the Rev. Wayne Murray at Grace Assembly of God Church learned that police planned to target prostitution in Greenwood during the Super Bowl, he decided to take action.
"I didn't realize that the Super Bowl is one of the largest gateways for people to be trafficked into the United States, he said.
Murray said his primary goal is to raise awareness and he plans to hold seminars to focus on the problem, RTV6's Myrt Price
"Were (looking) for ways we can help, he said. Most people don't realize that (trafficking) does exist and that it is so close."
Murray said his church has also gotten involved with a campaign thats offering an unconventional way to help victims.
Michael Bartel with Free International, a victims advocate group, is working with Murray and the attorney generals office to make sure hotel workers are aware of human trafficking.
"We want to put soaps in motels and give them a hot line number for where they can find help and how to get rescued. We're going to help provide the manpower and the money to make that happen, Bartel said. "We're going to paint a brief understanding of what trafficking is and its connection to missing children. Were going to raise red flags on what to follow up with and who to funnel that information to if there really is a need for help."
Bartel said teen runaways are often the population thats targeted to become sex slaves.
"Mostly they're kept in bondage with fear, he said. They will be beaten and taken advantage of."
Jerry Foster with Breaking Chains Network said during the Super Bowl, human traffickers are expected to bring in underage girls from across the globe.
"(Traffickers) bring in girls from all over the world, from Asia, Europe and western Europe. The girls will be brought in and forced to work out of motel rooms and forced to work out of the backs of vans, Foster said.
Experts said along with hotel staff, theyre also training taxi drivers on how to spot sex slaves, and lawmakers said they hope to pass a bill to make stiffer penalties for trafficking.
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