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November 21, 2014

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Documentary sheds light on sex trafficking crisis in Nevada

At 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 every major local TV network will switch from their regular programming to air a locally produced documentary on sex trafficking.

The 30-minute movie opens with a viewer discretion advisory and follows it up with victim accounts and eye-opening details about sex trafficking in Nevada. It’s not meant to be easy viewing but to instead raise awareness about a serious issue in Nevada and the nation.

Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the U.S., and researchers consider Nevada a mecca for sex trafficking. State prosecutors and law enforcement have made the issue to a top priority in recent years with hopes to crack down on pimps and traffickers.

Still, it’s a problem that requires the whole community to solve, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said during a press conference Thursday unveiling the documentary. That’s where “Trafficked No More” comes in.

“There is a community that does not want parents or high school students or young people to see this documentary because it will shed light on a very dark topic, it will reveal their tactics ... and will rescue young people from harm,” said Troy Martinez, documentary director. “If you are a young person and you are a victim of sex trafficking you can look to this effort as part of your exit strategy.”

Martinez, director of the National Sex Trafficking Awareness Campaign, began filming the documentary two years ago to raise awareness about the issue. The movie is a compilation of true events, sex trafficking cases and its impact on the underground sex industry in Nevada.

“It’s an eye-opening production, it is emotional and gets the message across about what Nevada and the country is faced with,” said Daniel Bogden, U.S. attorney for the District of Nevada.

In Nevada, the number of child sex trafficking victims that has been reported has increased from 107 in 2012 to 148 in 2013, Metro Police Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

The victims are as young as 13 years old, many of them forced to have sex up to 48 times a day, according to the Polaris Project, an organization that combats human trafficking.

More resources have been dedicated to the problem in Nevada, and a new law was passed during the 2013 state legislature that increases the punishment for those convicted.

Still, it will require help from schools, businesses, nonprofit groups and residents to help prevent children from becoming victims of the trafficking industry. Masto believes that this documentary will help advance those collaborative efforts.

“I think we’re seeing more victims (come forward) because of the campaign and awareness that we have in the community about what’s happening,” Masto said. “I anticipate with the hotline Polaris has staffed 24/7 that we’ll see more calls to the national hotline from Nevada because of this campaign.”

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