Summer events draw sex traffickers to Reno
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Summer events like Hot August Nights, which comes to Reno on Sunday, bring plenty of tourists and their pocketbooks to the city.
Police officials caution that behind-the-scenes, sex trafficking perpetrators take advantage of these crowds to sell underage prostitutes.
Sergeant Ron Chalmers with Reno Police says that the city's tourism is inviting for traffickers in nearby regions like northern California to bring their victims across state lines.
During investigations, officers routinely come across online advertisements linked to these large events.
"What we frequently see going in to the special events season, during Hot August Nights, Street Vibrations, you can name any one of the special events, we will see where those people are advertising specials. Hot August Nights specials, Reno Air Race specials, Reno Rodeo event specials--whatever the special event is."
Along with tourism, John McKendricks says that Nevada's history of light sentencing for trafficking encourages these criminals to conduct their business in Reno.
McKendricks is with Awaken, Inc., a Reno organization providing aid to victims rescued from the sex industry.
In the last legislative session, state lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 67, which established sex trafficking as an offense for the very first time.
"Up until Assembly Bill 67, which was a law which was just passed for the protection of minors in sex trafficking, it wasn't on a state-level illegal to traffic. So, a person who was caught with child pornography on a computer would have received a more severe sentence than someone who had trafficked a human being."
During a national FBI operation last weekend, law enforcement rescued a 14-year-old sex trafficking victim while monitoring activity on the 4th Street corridor downtown.
The two adults arrested for trafficking that child are from Carmichael, California, a suburb of Sacramento.
Listen to an extended Beyond the Headlines interview with John McKendricks.