Human Trafficking Present in ND - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Human Trafficking Present in ND

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Bismarck, ND -

The economic potential associated with North Dakota's oil activity has lured many businesses into the state.

There's a lot of positive buzz with companies about doing business here.

While most of the vendors and speakers at the Bakken Oil Expo are upbeat about their opportunities.

Director of Institute for Trafficked, Exploited and Missing Persons, Patrick Atkinson says there's a dark side of the boom. "There is a lot of denial, this is happening right now," says Atkinson.

Atkinson has worked to fight human trafficking across the world for the past 25 years but his mission is bringing him home more often... This North Dakotan and founder of the God's Child Project and ITEMP says human trafficking is going on here.

"Human trafficking is happening in ND. We have been involved personally with instances of women being brought forcibly into North Dakota and sold out of motels with violence for cash," says Atkinson.

Atkinson is working with oil executives to educate them on the problem so they can recognize it and help stop it.

And he says the oil industry is receptive.

"This is not something that is a result of the oil industry. It is an unintended consequence of what is happening."

Three men were recently charged in Burleigh County with attempted human trafficking.

Their arrests were the result of a sting operation by local police.

Atkinson says, "if police are catching those people, there are a lot more people who are doing it that are getting away with it. So far. The secret is you don't know if you are talking online with a 13,14, 15 year old girl or are you talking to a LT in Bismarck or Fargo. You will go to jail."

He says online web sites like backpage.com are used to advertise the sex services.

"The sting operations that have happened in ND are just the tip of the iceberg. We know it's going on because we are involved in cases," says Atkinson.

Atkinson's organization is currently active in the search and investigation of a 19 year old Minnesota girl who was taken and sold in western North Dakota.

"To our best knowledge the girl is now in Portland. Where she goes now? She could come back to ND and be sold out of hotels," he says.

It's one of the many examples of the problem.

Atkinson says there are 100,000 child prostitutes, 17 and under, in the U.S.

A woman sitting in on one of Atkinson's sessions this week shared her story that at age 13 year mother tried to sell her for sex... She says she instead, decided to leave her mom.

Atkinson recommends all parents to remove computers from kids' bedrooms.

He says the number four search word for seven year olds, according to Google is porn.

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