Wyoming Solar Eclipse a Hotbed for Sex Trafficking
Cheyenne police say the solar eclipse passing over Wyoming on August 21 could be a hotbed for sex trafficking.
State tourism officials estimate about 350,000 people could visit Wyoming to watch the eclipse, but Wyoming's economy may not be the only thing getting a financial boost.
"Sex trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry," said Sgt. Tim Meyrick. "In this region, a pimp will make approximately $1,000/day per girl."
"The folks who are responsible for the human trafficking are wanting to make money," said Officer Kevin Malatesta. "They're going to do it by going where there's a lot of people."
"If anybody's thinking of taking part in those services during the eclipse, obviously be aware that we do undercover stings throughout the year and it could be happening at that time just as it could be happening at any other time," Malatesta added.
While many believe prostitution, which is a misdemeanor in Wyoming, should be legalized, Malatesta says, "It has a much darker side to it."
"Human trafficking is not prostitution, however it's often disguised as prostitution," said Meyrick.
Meyrick says 80 percent of all human trafficking involves sex trafficking and 80-90 percent of all prostitution is pimp controlled.
"Eighty percent of victims are women," said Meyrick. "There's victims of all walks of life."
Police urge everyone, "If you see something, say something."
"If somebody's aware of that kind of activity they can certainly report it to our dispatch center at (307) 637-6525 and we will follow up on it and make sure it gets to the appropriate folks to investigate it," said Malatesta.