Undercover officers in Indy working to find victims of human trafficking

Undercover officers working to find victims of human trafficking. (WISH Photo/Brittany Lewis)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)  – Across the city of Indianapolis, there are undercover officers working to find victims of human trafficking.

“I would put the current human trafficking VICE unit’s the best in the country,” said IMPD Detective Sergeant Jon Daggy, who supervised and investigated cases as part of the unit for ten years.

“We had one that forced a girl to diet and exercise so she would lose weight, and he didn’t like her hair being a certain color so he bleached it with actual bleach and burned her scalp,” he said.

He said the history of human trafficking here dates back more than 100 years.

“Probably since since 1865 and maybe before that. Slavery didn’t go away. It just changed its form so to speak,” Daggy said.

In the last year, 178 trafficked youth were identified and served by one Indiana service provider, according to a report from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

According to the report, victims were as young as 7 when first trafficked.

“We’ve had some that have been in it a couple of days and we’ve had some that have been half a year to a year,” Daggy said.

He said the sex trafficking situations he’s seen, usually start the same way.

“A young girl meets an older guy online and through a social app and develops a very quick relationship, then meets this person out and of course their parents report them as a runaway.”

Runaways are considered to be among the most vulnerable when it comes to human trafficking, according to the report from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

“Runaways are real quick to be involved in human trafficking. They develop a relationship with this trafficker, the love situation happens in a couple of days you know; I love you, I love you, and then well, if you love me then we gotta make some money you’ll do this for me right, it’s just sex and then he’s got this young girl,” Daggy said.

There are a number of red flags to look for with human trafficking victims.

And there are a number of laws that have been passed in Indiana in recent years to combat human trafficking.

This session, Representative Ron Bacon is pushing for a bill that he said would help reduce human trafficking. He wants to make it a requirement for massage therapists to be licensed.

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