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Targeting Human Trafficking in Iowa

LINN COUNTY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- A Milwaukee man will spend the rest of his life in prison - after he pleaded guilty to transporting two minors to Iowa for sex

34-year-old Robert Jackson was arrested in Hills last July after a prostitution sting. A federal judge handed down the sentence Wednesday.

Police say the case is just another example of the growing concern over human trafficking.

Law enforcement has really had its eyes open in the last 5 to 7 years concerning human trafficking, says Sgt. Lance Miller with the Marion Police Department.

Miller says those eye opening experiences reveal a scary truth.

It happens right in front of you, and you don't necessarily see it unless you know what to look for, he says.

Miller says it often starts with the internet. Nowadays, with a couple of clicks of the mouse, anyone can look for love online. They can also look for sex - or something illegal.

There are indicators when they post their ads that tell us this is somebody being trafficked, Miller says. Miller says he couldnt go too much into what some of those indicators are.

He says police and area agencies are constantly joining forces to fight back.

Everybody in the corridor has taken a pretty proactive approach, Miller says.

The St. Lukes Child Protection Center in Hiawatha helps a lot of the children caught up in Human Trafficking rings. They say what you're seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg.

People don't realize it's going on right here, says Rosanne VanCura, who is a forensic interviewer at the center.

VanCura says it's gone from seeing one or two cases every couple of years at their center, to one or two every couple of months. Many of them are runaways, who are promised the world by someone with bad intentions. She says many of them are lured with promises like Come to the city, you'll be taken care of, you'll have lots of money.

VanCura says by the time they rescue the victim, they can be in such bad shape, it begs an important question.

What is going on in their home life that causes them to want to leave and go into a situation that's probably worse than where they came from?

The local organization Cedar Rapids Gives says when it comes to crime, human trafficking is now the second largest money maker in the world - after illegal drugs.
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