A teenage mother forced into the sex trade. She and the FBI say a small group of criminals ran a sex trafficking ring until it was busted in an undercover sting. The victim shares her story exclusively with Channel 6 News.
A bed and a crib, about all the furniture there was in a metro apartment where sex trafficking criminals kept an 18-year-old mother living in fear. “They just forced me into things and said if you didn't do this I would never see my daughter again.”
Using the Internet to entice “johns,” the group forced the young woman into sex for money and if she objected, there would be beatings. “They would punch you in the stomach because they didn't want bruises on your face or arms because those are visible.”
Her apartment became a jail cell. “I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself and if I was talking to somebody on the phone they had it on speaker phone.”
This victim of sex trafficking says the apartment where she was coerced into staying resembled little of a home. The cupboards were bare. She says there was little food in the refrigerator because the people forcing her into the sex trade wanted to make sure she depended on them.
When the criminals took her to a Council Bluffs apartment to meet a client, the FBI and police swarmed in for a sting. “I was really scared and when I got caught I was so happy that there was a way out.”
The sex trafficking criminals were arrested with the teenager's baby in a car seat. “It’s really tragic when there's a 9-week-old baby out in the car,” said the FBI agent on the case, who can’t be identified. “Absolutely, they were holding that baby as leverage over her.”
The agent held the victim's hand, not to handcuff, but as support for the teen rescued from an abusive life in sex trafficking. “Be strong, you can do it.”
“I'm sorry,” says the victim.
The four people involved in the sex trafficking case all received prison sentences, three getting from 11 to 20 years behind bars. One is doing a three-year stretch in a federal prison. The Innocence Lost Task Force rescued two other girls, ages 15 and 17, also involved in this case.
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