RED OAK — The Red Oak Police Department’s community service unit recently sponsored training in domestic minor/sex trafficking. The training’s focus was “Look Beneath the Surface,” with officers instructed that the person he or she had encountered or taken into custody might be a victim of human trafficking.

Trainers Deena Graves with Traffick911 and Traffickstop Tomi Grover with Traffickstop presented the training, noting that human trafficking is now the second largest criminal industry in the world

“And it’s happening in the United States of America,” they said.

ROPD hosted the training at Red Oak City Hall. In attendance were officers from the Waxahachie, Cedar Hill, Midlothian, Grand Prairie and Ferris police departments, Navarro College, Southwestern Assemblies of God University and the Ellis County Sheriffs Office.

An estimated 100,000-300,000 U.S. children are forced into sexual slavery each year for the pleasure

and profit of their perpetrators, the training pointed out, noting that the average age is from 12-14, but even younger children are victims.

“Their average life expectancy is seven short years,” the trainers said, instructing the officers in the myths and misconceptions of human trafficking.

U.S. children are at risk for trafficking, which is ongoing, the trainers said, noting that one out of three homeless youth in the United States is sold into sexual slavery. Typically, the way those children are identified and gain access to services is when they are charged with delinquency and or prostitution.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state, the trainers said, noting that the breeding ground for predators includes the state’s numerous interstate highways, airports, malls, Internet, truck stop and modeling studios.

Demands spike when major sporting events and conventions come to town, they said.

Texas House Bill 4009 established a Statewide Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and mandated training for police, prosecutors and judges. The bill was passed during the 81st Legislature.

The trainers also noted there is liability for the trafficker regardless of whether he or she knew a victim was a minor.

For more information, visit online at www.traffickstop.org, www.traffick911.org or www.oag.state.tx.us.

Or contact Red Oak police officer Nathan Bickerstaff at 469-218-7710.