The Garden City Telegram
12/1/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Human pain

Heinous crime should draw more attention from state.

A local criminal investigation brought attention to a tragic trend in Kansas and beyond.

Two men and a woman from Garden City recently were arrested on allegations of human trafficking, accused of involvement in a case involving a 13-year-old girl.

Police said the girl was ordered by a man and woman allegedly involved to pay back the cost to bring her from Guatemala to the United States, which led to the girl's sexual relationship with a man who paid the couple. The girl became pregnant, and the case led to numerous charges related to human trafficking and rape.

While this particular case still has to be resolved in the legal system, we do know human trafficking has become more common, with the crime now considered the second leading criminal enterprise in the world, only behind illegal drug sales.

Victims of human trafficking include men, women and children. They may be forced into various horrific scenarios, from working long hours under deplorable conditions for little or no pay without the freedom to leave, to being held as sex slaves.

Law enforcement officials understandably view pursuit of such crimes as a priority. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt helped push for recent legislation that would establish a fund for victims who need protection and counseling, and toughen fines and penalties for sexual exploitation of children and other human trafficking activity.

Anyone who would exploit another human being in such a way should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. State officials also know it's necessary to attack the problem with as many resources as possible.

The Kansas Human Trafficking Advisory Board operates through the state AG's office with a team of law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, court personnel, advocates, victims of human trafficking and others with knowledge of the issue.

Regardless of how a human trafficking case unfolds, every one is a tragedy. By allocating ample resources toward fighting the crime, more victims may find the help they desperately need.

Making the crime a high priority in this state and beyond is one important step in that direction.