The scourge of human trafficking is no stranger to Sin City. Now, Las Vegas is trying to bring awareness to stem the tide of such cases through a new billboard campaign.
The city’s FBI Division is partnering with Clear Channel Outdoor, a company that specializes in large-scale advertising, to place ten billboards through the Las Vegas Metropolitan area, where they will remain for a year.
An image of a child’s face with a hand over her mouth appears on the billboard with the inscription: “Human Trafficking: We’ll Listen. We’ll Help.” It includes a 24-hour phone number operated by the National Human Trafficking Hotline for victims and witnesses to call for help or to submit a tip. The signs can be read in English, Spanish and Chinese.
“We want to highlight it here, because we don’t want the human traffickers to feel like this is a safe haven, and we want to rescue as many people as we possibly can to make Las Vegas a place to recreate, not to be enslaved,” Special Agent in charge of the Vegas FBI Division Aaron Rouse said.
Rouse added the majority of victims are trafficked for prostitution, while about 30 percent of cases involved some kind of trafficked labor.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, they recovered 107 children last year alone as victims of trafficking. The Polaris Project, which is a national non-profit that tries to combat human trafficking reports the hotel industry and escort services have the highest incidents of human trafficking for labor and sex, making Vegas a prime location for it. Documented cases in Nevada have gone up, according to Polaris, with 116 in 2014, 138 in 2015, and 167 in 2016.
“This is a nationwide issue, human trafficking is not relegated to any one area, this is to build our efforts to try and combat it here in Las Vegas…we hope it’ll be something our 56 field offices will be able to parrot”, said Rouse in an interview with Fox News.