Just How Far Does Human Sex Trafficking Reach?


 

When you hear the words “human Trafficking” what comes to mind? Do you understand how terrible it is yet think “that’s not really impacting me personally”?

Maybe it is and you don’t know it, because we are not talking about it enough.

What I am about to tell you is very personal and dear to my heart, many tears have been shed and countless months of detective work to come to the story I am about to tell you.

A year ago Michigan was #2 in the nation for human trafficking based on phone calls received by the human trafficking hotline. Today it’s still in the top 10 however falling lower to states like California and Nevada due to the volume of vacationers that visit those states.

It all started about 5 years ago with a 15 year old boy named Bruce on Instagram. Bruce was a young attractive Hispanic boy, seemingly normal in every way. Little did he know he was the 1st step in an elaborate human trafficking ring. Like many of our children today they really do not understand how the social media outlets spread the entire world and with that come serious threats if not monitored.

Bruce was a “friend” to quite a few of the girls in my daughter’s circle of friends and they would chat daily. Bruce also had many friends that were being introduced to the circle and they all began to chat through Instagram and Kik. Shortly after their introduction I began to see a change in my daughter, she was becoming secretive and sneaky and being that I fully understand how far the internet reaches and quickly things can get out of control on the internet I checked up on my daughter on a regular basis. I would say bi-weekly I would grab her tablet after she went to sleep and begin to dig into her messages, her pictures and to see if things looked appropriate.

I noticed an unusual time gap in some messages and images, and truly didn’t think anything of it until about 2 weeks later. I had a funny feeling one night and grabbed her tablet to do what I thought would be just another normal check… What I found to this day haunts my mind and makes my heart sink.

It began with a picture, a questionably inappropriate for a girl her age and the sexy pose set my red flag on fire. So my digging turned into a manhunt checking EVERYTHING in all her accounts.

You see Bruce was a real boy, totally naïve to the “friends” he had in his circle. As I finished my digging into her accounts all I was left with were tears in my eyes and a burning fire in my heart to destroy every boy on her Instagram account and it was just the beginning.

I began to use the power of Google to do some searching and looking up secondary accounts of some of the friends in this circle (not something children are willing to do) once I saw that 4 of the “friends” in the circle were clearly adult men, my heartbreak turned to anger and rage. After about 2 days of almost endless scouring the internet for info on these MEN I came to the conclusion that I needed to take action with the Police. We were quickly met by the detective of the Cyber Task Force of Portage Police department and all our technology was requested.  After 7 months they called us in to report the most terrifying words I have ever heard, “Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, can you and your family please come to the Police station as soon as possible” NOT something you ever want to hear.

After we arrived we entered into a small conference room in the back of the Portage Police station and began to listen as he explained how my digging may have saved my daughter from abduction.

Bruce was like I said a normal 15 year old boy, what I didn’t know was the friends that were men acting as “friends” have set Bruce out as a scout… He was the first safe face that our children see; he unknowingly was luring young girls into his circle as prey for the men to pick and choose from. The circle of Bruce’s friend list reached the globe and his over 2k followers were nothing more than a smorgasbord of young unaware children these men were chatting with. OUR CHILDREN..

This is not someone else’s problem, this is right here, right now and real as the tears I shed for the innocence that was stolen from my daughter. My beautiful girl was prey for these monsters, she was quickly approaching a meetup (in her words) and I fear that I may have never seen my daughter again.

I hope this triggers fear in the hearts of every one of you. Dig in your children’s accounts, ask them question, and tell them not to have “friends” that they don’t actually know. I had no idea just how close it came to never seeing my daughter again, it’s worth the little upset hurt feelings of your child to keep them safe. If you do not know or understand what to look for or how ASK someone that does that you trust with the life of your child.

This picture of my daughters may have been the last picture I had with both of them together. This was taken around the time Haylee met Bruce..girls wallet

1 (888) 373-7888

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

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247 thoughts on “Just How Far Does Human Sex Trafficking Reach?

  1. Scott – thank you for sharing this! I was aware and had great interest in this issue before (I can thank some movies/shows for that – ie. Taken, etc.), but now having a very young daughter (1 year), this makes me think (& worry) more of her future & the dangers that exist in it. I don’t think it’s overstepping any parent/child bond/relationship to insist on knowing all their friends – physical and in cyberspace!
    I am extremely glad you pursued your instincts & researched those contacts. I think the shaken trust your daughter may have/had with your ‘snooping’ is insignificant to the danger you protected her from! I know we can’t always protect them from everything, but I only hope we can be there in time for things like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome! I too have an interest all things Tech and i’m very social. I believe that the help we can give through the internet has the capability to change the world. The issue is the balance or good and evil is heavily out of wack.

      I am not sure the best way to begin to tell you how to proactively look at this time with a child that is 1. the internet will be totally different by the time shes 3. it moves too fast and changes faster and faster.

      best things to do is to limit access all together and when you introduce it openly discuss whats acceptable and not acceptable.
      also if I could go back I would have waited to let them have things like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Scott. Very informative article. My children are adults now but when my youngest was a teen, I decided to put a sort of spyware on my computer so I could see all that she was innocently typing. It was my way of seeing what teens I didn’t want her hanging out with and other things. I was always a few steps ahead of her…. We were lucky. She wasn’t being lured into anything but one never knows.

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  2. Frightening story!

    Could you elaborate on how you ‘looked up secondary accounts’ on these ‘suspected people’. Were these people ‘fake children’ with fake kid profiles? How did you make that connection via Google to grown men’s accounts?

    That info may help others in distinguishing what steps are best to follow to accomplish this vetting.

    Like

    • What I did was looked into the profiles of the Instagram accounts that were chatting with my daughter. The images that they had on their Instagram accounts were clearly fake pictures and posted to look like a normal account. I looked the names that they used up in the other social media and began to connect the dots. I found two on Google + and an email that was also fake and that is when I asked the Cyber Task force to help me.

      once you get in and begin seeing things that are not normal or that make sense, follow your gut.
      I do not have the capability to track down an IP address (its like your computers name) and there are 100’s of ways around that as well.

      That is why this is so dangerous, all they have to do is find an open WiFi (McDonald, library’s, a neighbor etc.) and they are only traceable to that location not to their information.
      This is scary stuff honestly.. So much we cannot control, the best thing to do is prepare and protect our children. Be honest about the nasty things that happen (age appropriateness) and dig in your child’s things.

      Like

    • I would also like to know. One grandchild is 7, or will be soon, and she knows good and evil, but doubt she’d comprehend it on the internet. She doesn’t live with us and believe she’s home, either alone, or, with an older sister and 2 more siblings. Haven’t told her about internet evil and don’t know if anyone else has either. I will find out though, but I never refuse good sense advice. It’s SO scary. I can’t imagine what happens to children who are alone cause the parent has to work and they have nobody to watch them. I had to do it years ago but they had rules and I had help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s so true.
        That was what I wanted to express to parents. The dangers that children can see while we are with them let alone when they are alone. I thought I was “keeping tabs” on her and had the illusion I had everything under control.
        It still crept into our home, and into my daughter’s life. It’s not only something “others children” face daily. It’s our children..

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  3. I have 2 girls and my oldest has an instagram. It had been linked to my phone . Till recently she opened a separate account. I looked at her account and started looking at a friend of hers. She has her account set as open I noticed. I found a couple men with names that looked to be middle eastern . Clicked on name and so on. Came to a group of all aged men that are following her. They are all middle eastern men from what I can tell.
    But am I looking g at the right thing? I will be talking to her parents .
    Thanks to this article.

    Like

    • That is not cool..
      Children will naturally try to do things we do not know about, its natural. We need to be understanding of that yet fight that head on. That is the perfect opportunity for a predator to take advantage.

      I would sit her down and calmly talk with her, if you can’t that is one of the first issues. You need to have open communication about everything.
      I’m proud that my daughter can and does come to me with almost everything.

      also ask her why she has her account open. She will probably say “I don’t know” but the truth is to get as many followers and likes as possible.. that is what matters to kids today.

      I would ask her to set it to private, ask her to please remove people that she doesn’t know. This will not be fun.. She will get upset… and that is ok!

      I’m no scientist but I have researched a lot. the “likes” that kids get release Dopamine (the feel good chemical) so in turn you are fighting a battle against her feeling good.

      It best to be honest and open with her. Try not to turn it into a battle, turn it into a I will miss you if anything were to happen to you and share this if you have to…
      I wold also check messages and anything else that seems “off” follow your gut! I did and it was what saved my girls.

      Like

  4. Thank you, Scott, for telling your story and challenging parents and (in my case) grandparents to be aware that our children (even our mid-to-late-teens) are vulnerable to predators and need practical accountability and oversight. To be naive about evil is a costly mistake when it comes to loving our kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This kid may have also not been completely unwitting. Unfortunately, he too may have been coerced by these cowardly men. I’m hoping the police’s digging was able to bring up whether or not this boy is safe, too? 😦 I am SO glad you caught this when you did! Way to be vigilant.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing what happened with the world so we can be better informed. I am glad that you have a happy ending and your beautiful girls are safe. Meanwhile there are so many others out there… including the “Bruce’s” who are caught up in this…

    Thank you again for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I appreciate this article, but I am not sure if why this boy’s ethnicity had anything to do with the article. If he were Hispanic, Irish, Western European or from South African descent, it really had nothin to do with it. As you write in your article, he was a Young teenage boy who was also lured in. This could happen to anyone’s son or daughter. They are kidnapping both sexes and even adult women and all ethnicities. Let’s let’s focus on the human race please, this is a worldwide problem.
    – a concerned mother

    Like

    • Thank you for liking the article, I was only sing it to describe the boy so that the readers could “imagine” and connect more to the story. Race has nothing to do with this, once again. I just wanted the readers “see” what I was describing, nothing more, nothing less.

      Like

  9. I am not a parent, but an aunt – concerned because kids “go missing” constantly in this geographical area. Mostly I see they are “found” a few days later. So – I’m thinking: is this also sometimes a game they play for attn.? It freaks out the families; the kid gets extra attn.; they come home; never hear of it again. Very often, the girls have on quite seductive clothing, in extremely seductive poses. I realize what is allowed by parental authority figures is far out of context compared to “back in the day”. So – are there not classes for drawing boundaries with their dress & seductive poses, since we are no longer “back in the day”, and trafficking is for real – and the Internet has become a venue, literally, of life and death.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this. I felt so much guilt when I found out my brother had sexually assaulted a child he had groomed for years. I live in a different state and didn’t know it was going on. When I found out he was grooming another child on Facebook, I took action. He had me blocked, but I had an account I use for training business owners how to use Facebook. That’s where I found him

    I took over 300 screen shots of his activity. One thing led to another and I got a hold of the police department in the city he lived in and found out that he was a registered sex offender. I started a conversation with the detectives. It took a year, but they got him. He had made arrangements to meet the young boy he was grooming at the airport in the men’s room. You can guess what his intent was. Instead of the boy, he found my detectives. In April he was sentenced to a mandatory 17 years.

    You MUST be vigilant. Your child has no right of privacy on social media. Get over that and protect your children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That made my heart sink..
      I’m glad you were able to stand up against family. I have known family that has turned a blind eye to situations that were exactly like yours.
      Yes we must be aggressive and vigilant when it comes to our children and their safety. Predators do not follow the same rules we do. Sometimes we have to be willing to step out of our Comfort zones and make it a little more of an equal fight

      Like

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  12. There’s been a lot of news recently on how global law enforcement (FBI, InterPol, Aussi Feds, ect) have infiltrated and busted up trafficking and pedo rings within the darkweb. Hopefully, this trend continues.

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      • I can see why someone would make it shorter to read to maybe get the story out to more people that might not rad a long story, but hope different versions don’t change too much, I didn’t analyze hers too much.
        thank you for your reply, praying for you, do you know of any task forces or places hiring to help stop these people?

        Like

        • You are welcome, yes I see too why they would want to shorten the story, as long as the content doesn’t change. So far all the “others” that I have read are accurate as far as the details and important parts. All I really care about is that the story is hitting homes and bringing awareness to parents that this is a REAL problem, not just something we hear about.
          thank you for reading

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  16. Thank you for this brutal honesty. I shared with my Facebook friends, hopefully this reaches people. My 14 year old is not yet allowed social media and I will keep it that way. I made her read this. I told her to share it with her friends (whom all have social media). It’s a scary world. We have to protect our children with everything we have. God Bless.

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