OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - More than 300,000 people a year are forced into the underworld of sex trafficking. The Creighton Human Trafficking Institute says in Omaha alone, at least 675 individuals are sold monthly, often multiple times.
Criminals typically target girls between the ages of 12 and 14, but metro organizations are working together to stop the cycle. The Coalition on Human Trafficking and Mayor Jean Stothert announced 1,200 employees at more than 100 Omaha hotels have been trained to spot human trafficking. They teach workers to look for signs, including people who don't carry their own identification, can't go anywhere by themselves or have few personal possesions.
"If a gentleman comes in with more than young woman, do their girls have their own phone? Do they look at the ground the whole time, if they do, they're probably under his power," Coalition on Human Trafficking trainer Janet Caughlin said.
At the age of 19, Kim Case was abducted in her driveway at a home outside of Kansas City.
She said she was followed home and kidnapped by four men. For the next 16 hours, she was sexually assaulted and beaten. Case was going to be sold into sex trafficking but was able to escape.
Now, she's an advocate for victims and spoke to others at the Disrupting Trafficking Liberation Summit.
"It changes the way you look at the world, we want to believe that we have a right to live freely and move place to place and trust people, but for me that changed it took years and years of counseling and my faith work to understand that while I was still on this Earth, I had to find a way to restore that," Case said.
It's not just hotels, officials are with people in schools, with victims and lawmakers to raise awareness and put an end to the world's second-largest criminal industry.
"If we don't talk about it and if we don't build awareness, then it's going to be some that stays hidden,