Human trafficking – sex trafficking – is happening in Wyoming, and it’s very unidentified here.
That’s according to Terri Markham, co-founder and executive director of Uprising, a non-profit organization based in Sheridan County that’s committed to raising awareness about sex trafficking in the state.
Speaking at this week’s meeting of the Sheridan Rotary Club, Markham said there’s a real need for education and awareness.
Markham said she started working in Wyoming two years ago, and what she’s seen in that time is that a lot of sex trafficking here not only has been very unidentified but a lot of that comes from the victims themselves.
In addition, Markham said, the crime of sex trafficking is often misidentified as sexual abuse, domestic violence or some other crime instead.
She said familial trafficking is actually the most common form of sex trafficking she’s seen in Wyoming. She said the youngest child she’s aware of currently is a 10-year-old boy in one of the Wyoming counties whose family was trafficking him to get money.
In another case, she said, a Wyoming newspaper reported a case where a mother was trafficking her daughter in exchange for drugs.
She said pimp-controlled trafficking is probably closer to the mental image people have of trafficking, and that does occur a lot in Wyoming.
Still another form of trafficking, she said, is online exploitation. She said she an FBI agent at a training she attended said if your child has any kind of online presence, there is a 100 percent chance the child has been seen by a predator.
Markham talked about what Uprising is trying to do to take action against six trafficking. Sheridan Media will have stories on that in the future.