Former FBI Special Agent Anna Brewer visited First United Methodist Church in Springfield Jan. 29 to educate the community about human trafficking.
Brewer, a training consultant for the Women’s Fund of Omaha, said traffickers can be any gender.
According to the Women’s Fund of Omaha’s website, an estimated 900 individuals are sold each month for sex in Nebraska, with 70 to 75% showing signs of being trafficked.
“Take a look at me, look at my height, my weight, eye color, my skin color and please believe me when I tell you I am the face of a trafficker,” Brewer said.
“People that look like me sell their children, people that look like me are sold for sex, so take that stereotypical Hollywood image of what you think a pimp looks like and throw that out the window.”
Brewer said human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise behind drug trafficking and is growing.
“Drug traffickers are realizing that there is less risk and greater reward in selling a person than there is in selling narcotics,” Brewer said.
Brewer said if she was caught speeding on the way to Springfield with a bag of cocaine on her front seat she would have been arrested.
But if Brewer were a human trafficker and she had her daughter with her to be sold for trafficking purposes and she was caught speeding, the officer might give her a ticket but would not arrest her on the spot like he would a drug trafficker.
“The police officer doesn’t have any reasonable suspicion without probable cause to believe I am committing a crime,” Brewer said.
She said the average lifespan of a trafficked human is around seven years from his or her first commercial sex act. Causes of death vary from suicide to untreated illnesses.
Throughout the interviews of survivors Brewer has conducted, fear was the common element among people being sold into commercial sex.
Whether that fear was the trafficker would release photos, beat or threaten the individual, all of the individuals were afraid to escape from their captors.
Human traffickers, she said, will say things like, “In the end it will just be you and me, you’re better off with me and I will make you rich,” to lure victims in to a false sense of security.
Brewer said there is a solution to end human trafficking.
“If we have no buyers then we have no trafficking,” Brewer said.
From her experience investigating sex crimes, she said the average sex buyer is a white male, between 24 and 60 years old, educated and from a higher socioeconomic background.
“Yes, I have arrested African-American, Native American, Hispanic and Asian men, but majority of the time, 80 to 85% of men that pay for sex that I have experienced are white males,” Brewer said.
The new approach being taken by law enforcement to combat human trafficking is that sex workers will not be arrested.
Brewer said she would rather let 100 prostitutes free if it means she can help one person who didn’t choose that lifestyle.
“We are trying to end the demand by going after the sex buyers but we are demanding as a state, as a community as a church, as a village, as a town of Springfield we are demanding an end to human trafficking,” she said.