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NEW REPORT: El Paso County ranks third in human trafficking charges


(EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.) —The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) recently published their 2023 The Colorado Project Report on human trafficking throughout the state of Colorado. In their report findings, El Paso County ranked third in human trafficking case charges in the state, falling behind Adams County and Arapahoe County.

“We conduct this every five years to get a pulse on the progress of efforts to end human trafficking across the state of Colorado,” said A.J. Alejano-Steele, LCHT Co-Founder. “So, it's a point in time assessment and in 2023, we're really honing in on how you need, what are called multisector partnership. What that means is you've got , you've got service providers, you've got social workers, child advocates… so our goal of this research is to support sustainable progress, to end human trafficking statewide.”

Alejano-Steele provided insights from the research, sharing crucial findings in housing instability, homelessness, and the heightened vulnerability of marginalized communities within our state.

“Some of those examples might be some of the rural areas that have agriculture and sheep herding and ranching, thinking about ways that people are drawn to Colorado Springs, Pueblo, the Air Force Academy people come because they want to visit this beautiful part of the state,” Alejano-Steele said. “But what about the people behind the scenes? Who are the people who are doing the landscaping? Who are the ones who are making coffee?”

Kara Napolitano, the Research and Training Manager at LCHT, advocated to reshape public perceptions about human trafficking and the misconceptions created by Hollywood myths.

“I think that most people really don't understand the complexities and the nuances of human trafficking and how it shows up in Colorado,” Napolitano said. “I think a lot of folks are sort of depending on , regular media, and Hollywood.”

Having an open conversation about human trafficking and its impact throughout Southern Colorado, was a key point made by Napolitano.

“I think being aware, being aware of the issue and all its complexities that that that is more prevalent in sex trafficking,” Napolitano said. “But that everyone, all identities and ethnicities are affected by this crime I think is a really good start normalizing those conversations so that it's not something that people are afraid of, so that you can kind of talk about it as a local issue without sort of shutting down.”

The recent findings place homelessness and housing instability as a primary concern for human trafficking survivors, while also bringing to the direct impact it has on marginalized groups.

“In Colorado Springs, you have a high Native American population, you've got a high rate of homelessness as well,” Napolitano said. “Individuals who are marginalized are more likely to be experiencing homelessness, so we see individuals that identify as LGBTQ, that are also experiencing homelessness, that can be targeted.”

In El Paso County, the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado is one group working to bring awareness on human trafficking and the available to help survivors.

Jo-Ann O'Neil, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado, shared the moment she realized a need to advocate for this issue.

“I was a clinical director at a treatment center for youth, and we had a child that came to us from Nevada, and she had been trafficked out of Los Angeles,” O'Neil said “It was really a heartbreaking story and we brought her in, and we did treatment for her. My team of therapists did an awesome job, so much so that the judge back in Las Vegas asked us to create a program to work with youth.”

O'Neil too emphasized the importance of making people aware of human trafficking and its prevalence in Southern Colorado.

“Our main mission is to bring awareness, to do symposiums, to have presentations out there, to get other organizations to network with each other, because it takes a team and… there's no room for people to be competitive between organizations,” said O'Neil.

Regarding the discoveries in the recent report, O'Neil expressed her hope for increased funding to support law enforcement working in human trafficking.

“I'm hoping that we can find a way to fund the police department and to get more resources available so we can make sure that we're not the third,” O'Neil said. “To be ahead of Denver is just shocking to me for the… amount of people that live in Denver compared to Colorado Springs.”

When it comes to how others can , O'Neil shared the Task Force meets once a month, with their next meeting on Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at 615 Wooten Road.

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original location.

Fair Use Notice: The Knowledge Vault is dedicated to advancing understanding of various social justice issues, including human trafficking and related topics. Some of the material presented on this website may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to promote education and awareness of these important issues. There is no other central database we are aware of, so we put this together for both historical and research purposes. Articles are categorized and tagged for ease of use. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information on fair use, please visit: “17 U.S. Code § 107 – Limitations on exclusive rights” on Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute.

Human Trafficking Essentials Online Certificate Course
Human Trafficking Essentials Online Certificate Course

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.

 

EYES ON TRAFFICKING

This “Eyes on Trafficking” story is reprinted from its original online location.

Fair Use Notice: The PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault is dedicated to advancing understanding of various social justice issues, including human trafficking and related topics. Some of the material presented on this website may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to promote education and awareness of these important issues. There is no other central database we are aware of, so we put this together for both historical and research purposes. Articles are categorized and tagged for ease of use. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information on fair use, please visit: “17 U.S. Code § 107 – Limitations on exclusive rights” on Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute.

ABOUT PBJ LEARNING

PBJ Learning is a leading provider of online human trafficking training, focusing on awareness and prevention education. Their interactive Human Trafficking Essentials online course is used worldwide to educate professionals and individuals how to recognize human trafficking and how to respond to potential victims. Learn on any web browser (even your mobile phone) at any time.

More stories like this can be found in your PBJ Learning Knowledge Vault.