PHOENIX - A study conducted by ASU's School of Social Work and the Phoenix Police Department exposes shocking new statistics in the number of people forced into the sex business online.
The study looked at the site Backpage.com for a 12-hour period in five different cities: Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Philadelphia. It found about 20 percent of the sex ads on the site showed signs that they were linked to human trafficking. Ten percent of those ads showed signs that minors were involved.
"You can tell because you'd see a switch in the pronouns used. That would tell you that someone else was involved in the ad," said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz with ASU.
Roe-Sepowitz worked with Phoenix police to study the ads so they would know which ads were likely linked to trafficking.
Phoenix police say Phoenix is an ideal area for the sex trafficking business to take place.
"We have wonderful weather, people love coming to Arizona. We have a lot of entertainment and sports events that bring people to the Valley. We also have major interstates going through town, so this is an ideal place for this to happen," said Lt. Jim Gallagher.
Experts say Facebook is a key place traffickers go to find their next target. They send friend requests to minors and target them.