Fresno, California - Our nation's lawmakers have passed a bill that is helping the fight to stop sex trafficking in the Valley. The "Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" is aimed at preventing human trafficking and specifically sex crimes from spreading online. The people on the front lines of the fight against sex trafficking in the Valley say this legislation could keep sex traffickers off of the web, a place where these crimes are rampant.
In Fresno the fight against sex trafficking starts on the streets as officers build relationships with victims to get them help while at the same time trying to take down traffickers. Prosecutors say the scope of the crime is massive.
"This is not something that is isolated to a specific demographic region this is something that's prevalent not just throughout Fresno County and throughout California and really nationwide," said Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Miiko Anderson.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says now just as many if not more of the illegal dates are being made from adds listed online.
"That is where some of these dates are arranged to meet at a certain location, generally a motel," said Dyer.
But Dyer says the "Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act" just passed by congress is a game changer because it will now hold websites legally responsible for any crimes connected to their platform. Craigslist has already made the decision to pull its "personals" page to protect itself from ties to any crimes by people posting.
"It is important that we take away that platform which takes away the opportunity for that date, or that sexual activity to occur in the first place," said Dyer.
Victims advocates say this legislation empowers Fresno County's investigators and federal prosecutors going forward.
"They can tack on other sentences and they can tack on other filings, but to also know they're going to be able to prosecute any of those cases as well," said Sarah Johnston with Central Valley Against Human Trafficking.
If anyone has information for investigators about a human trafficking case you can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.