Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Less than a week after State Police dismantled a sex trafficking ring operating primarily in Oneida County, a newly formed task force is meeting in Syracuse to find ways to fight the crime.
Though it's difficult to track, analysts estimate that upwards of 800,000 people fall victim to sex trafficking, many of them are children.
According to those working on the task force – which consists of law enforcement officers, child advocates, and state officials – raising awareness may be one of the most useful tools for fighting sex trafficking.
“It's a crime that's not very well understood, it's a problem that's not understood, take months if not years to accurately identify,” said Stephen Maher, with the NYS Attorney General's Office. “It’s not just a city problem, it’s not just rural problem, it's a problem throughout the state.”
Human and sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the US. Part of the goal of the task force, is to figure out how big of a problem it is in Central New York.
"It’s in all upstate cities, it's here...the labor trafficking, the sex trafficking, it's going on everywhere and the victims are a tough bunch to break in - so we need to focus all our efforts on letting them know there is help out there,” said Capt. Mark Lincoln.
"We are definitely seeing progress, probably you're going to see more cases - there are cases out there, we know that, we just need to be able to identify them,” said Julie Cecile.
And as more cases of abuse emerge, the group wants to find a consistent way to deal with the crime.