Sunday is “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons” and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is challenging Iowans to use the opportunity to learn something and do something about human trafficking.
From 2021 to 2022, there was a 61 percent increase in the number of tips called into the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s human trafficking tip line. Sergeant Elizabeth Quinn, a deputy sheriff in Story County, says she can’t share details, but her department is currently investigating tips about children and adults who may be forced into some type of labor or commercial sex.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, half of the tips about human trafficking from Iowa in 2021 were about minors. Quinn says children are very vulnerable to traffickers lurking on social media.
In 2016, Quinn spent six months in Washington, D.C., working in the Human Trafficking and Child Protection Division with the International Criminal Police Organization. In 2022, Pate created the Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking network. It now includes nearly 700 businesses that are training employees and posting tip line numbers in workplaces and restrooms. Pate cites a recent arrest in an Iowa convenience store.
A state law that went into effect this year has increased penalties for human trafficking and those convicted of trafficking children could be sentenced to life in prison.