Human trafficking in Chandler: Police weigh in on social media posts

Posted at 3:51 PM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-18 23:37:09-04

Despite a spreading concern online that human traffickers are targeting women at a shopping complex, Chandler police say they have no evidence that is the case. 

Two separate posts online are spreading throughout community pages on social media. Women, concerned they were trafficking targets, have posted bizarre encounters with people while out shopping.

While Chandler police say they don't have evidence traffickers are involved, as always, they encourage anyone who sees suspicious behavior to call the police. 

Last week, Arizona State University issued a warning that sex traffickers may attend college parties. 

ABC15 talked with a member of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council to see how often this actually happens. The council is a part of the Governor's Office of Youth, Faith and Family. 

"Arizona has a problem," said Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, the Director of ASU's Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research. "Is it worse than other places? I'm not sure, but we have to pay attention to this."

According to the 2017 Arizona Human Trafficking Council Report, sex trafficking in Arizona happens more often than you might think.

According to the report, a study focusing on 2015-2016 identified more than 2,000 sex trafficking victims in Arizona alone. Of those, more than 500 were minors, and more than 1,700 were adults. 

"It can happen anywhere," Dr. Roe-Sepowitz said. "There are some things you should be on the lookout for. First of all, if your gut instinct tells you this is not a good person, listen to your body, listen to yourself."

According to the report, the average age of a trafficked minor was 16-years-old. The average age of a trafficked adult was roughly 24. 

"The goal of a trafficker is to get you engaged, get you to owe them something so that you have to sell sex or be part of prostitution to pay them back," Dr. Roe-Sepowitz said. 

You can find resources on what to look out for, and how to talk with your children here.