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First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir has announced the creation of a specialized Human Trafficking unit in his office. “Sex trafficking of children is taking place throughout our community. It is time for us to take a tougher stance on offenders and protect the children who get caught up in their traps,” said Weir, “Sex trafficking is a form of slavery and it must be stopped.”
The DA’s Human Trafficking unit is using a new, proactive approach which focuses on protection and prevention in addition to aggressively prosecuting those who are sexually exploiting children. A risk assessment helps identify high risk youth who are most vulnerable to being exploited. The unit uses a team approach to each case, trying to protect those who are already being exploited, by helping them find a way of out the life, and helping prevent other vulnerable youth from being drawn into the web of prostitution.
There have been 53 high-risk juveniles identified in Jefferson County.
“This is the first Human Trafficking Unit in a District Attorney’s Office in Colorado,” said Weir, “We are fortunate to have the full support of our Board of County Commissioners, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Human Services. We are united in delivering the message that child sex trafficking will not be tolerated in Jefferson County.”
The unit is comprised of a full-time deputy district attorney, a full-time investigator and support staff. Their goal is to prevent and protect high risk juveniles, expand investigations, and aggressively prosecute those who prey on vulnerable children.
In December, 2013, a Jefferson County a multi-disciplinary subcommittee began to meet monthly to look closely at suspected trafficking in the community. The subcommittee, called the Colorado Youth Leadership Council on Human Trafficking (CYLC -HT), is comprised of representatives from the DA’s Office, law enforcement, the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, the Department of Human Services, R1 School District, the Juvenile Assessment Center and the courts.
“This practical, pro-active approach to child sex trafficking in our community is much more effective than traditional prostitution stings which often resulted in these kids being taken to detention centers. Often they are runaways, truant from school, and are having trouble securing their basic needs like food and shelter. They are vulnerable to predators.” said Deputy District Attorney Katie Kurtz who is assigned to the unit, “We want to stop sex trafficking of children, even if we do it one child at a time. There are no throwaway kids in Jefferson County.”
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