Human trafficking sting nets 16 arrests in Brown County

Published: Oct. 19, 2017 at 2:13 PM CDT
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More than 80 people have been arrested in Wisconsin as part of a nationwide human trafficking operation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children worked with local and state agencies for Operation Cross Country XI.

In total, 84 minors were rescued from a life of being bought and sold. In Colorado, a 3-month-old girl and her five-year-old sister were recovered after a family friend made a deal with an undercover officer to sell them for sex for $600.

The Brown County Sheriff's Office, Green Bay Police Department, De Pere Police Department, and Ashwaubenon Public Safety were among the agencies that took part in Operation Cross Country XI.

Sixteen arrests happened in Brown County. These arrests include charges of Human Trafficking, Prostitution and drug offenses.

Target 2 Investigates was there as the arrests happened. We went along for a rare look inside the underground world of human trafficking.

Officers posted online to target "johns", the term used for men who respond to ads for sex.

We watched as dozens of people messaged undercover officers, all within a matter of hours.

"Easily, to post an ad online, and to get over 100 hits is not something unusual for us in one day. That just tells you the volume that's still out here," says Sgt. Matt Wilson, Brown County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators also focused on the supply-side of trafficking, responding to ads from women advertising sex.

The officers find the women and offer them help.

"Whether they're independent or someone's controlling them, they're scared," says Detective John Peters, Green Bay Police Department. "At least you put that on the plate for them and they may come and reach out at you later, whether it's another arrest or you may just get a phone call."

Sarah Thomsen's sweeping Target 2 Investigates report also shows us how advocates work hand-in-hand with investigators during these trafficking operations.

The full report the underground world of human trafficking airs Thursday on Action 2 News at 10.