KY AG: A spike in sex trafficking surrounding Kentucky Derby weekend

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(Ky.) -- Derby weekend is here, and with the large crowds traveling to the bluegrass, specifically Louisville, sex trafficking is expected to be highly prevalent. 13 News reporter, Kelly Dean spoke with a state official who explained how they plan to combat this crime during the busy weekend.

A report report released by the Kentucky Attorney Generals Office says more than 100 potential victims of trafficking were reported in the state last year.

"We see a spike in sex trafficking during Derby every year," said Kentucky Attorney General, Andy Beshear.

There's usually a pattern of traffickers from outside the state, bringing their victims there to the crowds to put their victims to 'work.'

"If you look at Angela Renfro, who is one of the lead advocates out there providing services, she first came to Louisville when a trafficker brought her," explained Beshear.

Beshear has established the Office of the Attorney General as the leading state agency fighting human trafficking.

"We started on Monday, pushing our awareness, along with partners LMPD, with the sheriff's office, with our prosecutors and with a lot of advocates, survivors, and heroes," explained Beshear.

They combat human trafficking during Derby by setting up stings, finding victims and even providing services to those victims when rescued.

"We will be out looking for trafficking every single day at the derby and we've been successful in the past," said Beshear.

While there's no one single indicator of human trafficking, the Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution says the following signs are common in victims:

-Travel together and have identical tattoos, branding.

-Unable to identify what town or state they are in or where they are staying.

-Lack official identification documents and personal possessions.

-Appears malnourished and has physical injuries.

-Avoids eye contact and seems to adhere to limited, scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction.

-Loss of sense of time.

-Has possession of multiple pre-paid credit cards.​

"While most people are enjoying Derby, we need to remember there are those that aren't here willingly, that trauma's being inflicted on them and we have a duty to help," said Beshear.

Derby will come to a close after this weekend, but the heinous crime of sex trafficking will continue.

"Call anyone. Just make sure you pick up the phone because it may be the difference in saving that child's life or that child continuously being abused day in and day out," said Beshear.

The Kentucky Attorney General says the Commonwealth is doing more right now to stop sex trafficking than ever before.

A local nonprofit dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking released the following statement regarding this weekend:

"Anytime there is a large gathering of people, with lots of money, there is the opportunity for trafficking and the Kentucky Derby is one such event. Phoenix Rising suggests that you be mindful of your surroundings. One sign to watch for is a group of well behaved teenagers with one adult. If you get in a situation or see a situation you think is trafficking call the hotline 1-888-373-7888. If you sense immediate danger call 911. "

Again, to report trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

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