A new report released Tuesday shows a significant increase in the number of human trafficking cases nationwide.
Overall, the hotline fielded 8,042 human trafficking cases in 2016, way up from the 5,961 cases reported in 2015.
It might not be something many of us think about every day, but human trafficking is impacting our communities right here in northeastern and central Pennsylvania. The national hotline has received 149 such reports since 2007.
Researchers said this increase is mostly due to a greater awareness of human trafficking which then results in more cases to be reported.
The study also showed more survivors are asking for help.
In 2016, 2,042 survivors in the US reached out to the hotlines for help, a 24% increase from 2015.
"Most people in the industry start as children between the ages of twelve and fourteen and its very hard to get them out of that life once they get in it." said Timmons.
With January recognized as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says its Homeland Security Investigations will be conducting anti-human trafficking training to countries, including the Caribbean, throughout 2017 and beyond.
"Our focus is on the pimps or the people who are profiting of this", he said.
She said in the Lubbock community and surrounding areas they have seen all kinds of circumstances of sex trafficking, and some of it has been gang related.