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Lawmakers fight human trafficking in Washington

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Grand Forks Police say human trafficking and prostitution are problems that have been increasing in our area. Last month, police arrested five men in a prostitution sting. Now some legislators are working on a series of laws to try to prevent human trafficking across the country.

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Police say the women that are being trafficked in Grand Forks vary in age from under 18 to women in their 40s and 50s. Lawmakers say human trafficking is not only an issue in the valley, but across the country, and new legislation could fight the crime. The House of Representatives passed five bills that address the issue. Representative Kevin Cramer has cosponsored the bills. Cramer says it's critical the criminal justice and victim support systems catch up with the rapidly evolving crime.

Police say with Grand Forks being close to the Canadian Border, in the middle of I29 and a gateway into the Bakken oil patch, human trafficking is a problem here. Grand Forks Police say they're doing their best to fight the crime- especially because websites like Backpage and Craigslist play such a huge role .Police say these websites aren't the only avenues that provide clues that human trafficking and prostitution are happening in Grand Forks.

Sgt. Bill Wyatt with the Grand Forks Police Department said, "Prostitution is becoming more prevalent in Grand Forks and the hotels acknowledge it and take steps to correct that action and we also get calls from locals also that had seen this type of activity and have stepped up and made the complaint."

Police say most of their investigations are based on the fact that human trafficking is a victim based crime. They say arrests aren't always the course of action they're looking for - but instead - more information on how human trafficking works so they can fight the crime.

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