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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 11, 2014, 07:46 PM

Sex Trafficking of children is gaining momentum in North Dakota

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Prostitution and sex trafficking are booming along with the oil industry in North Dakota.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Prostitution and sex trafficking are booming along with the oil industry in North Dakota.

And those behind the crimes are recruiting local children.

It's not a pretty subject and it's starting to hit closer to home.

Sex trafficking of children is gaining momentum in North Dakota.

Particularly in Indian country and the Bakken oil patch.

Heidi Heitkamp/Senator of North Dakota: "That kind of cash economy, that kind of booming economy, also encourages an under element. And that under element has come to our state."

In November, 11 people were arrested in an online child sex trafficking sting in Dickinson - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Nationally, the average age a child enters prostitution is 13.

In the past, it was common for children being trafficked to be brought in from other countries. But local police say that's no longer the case.

Deputy Chief Pat Claus/Fargo Police Department: "These aren't the stereotypical Hollywood, these are literally young women, predominantly from our area that get groomed and brought in not by the truckload, but by ones and twos."

With the Internet, it's now easier for pimps to meet children and sell them on websites like backpage.com.

And though most of the activity is in the western part of the state, that doesn't mean it's not happening in the Valley.

Heitkamp: "We have to keep our eyes wide open. Don't buy the line it will never happen here."

100,000 minors are forced into sex trafficking each year in the U.S.

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