WTRF.com SPECIAL REPORT: Human Trafficking and the Ohio Valley - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WTRF.com SPECIAL REPORT: Human Trafficking and the Ohio Valley

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When you hear the term "human trafficking" most of us would think of a foreign country or at most a big city, but like many crimes, its on the rise and showing up in the least likely of areas and the Ohio Valley could be next.

"Human trafficking" in short, is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery.

In cities across the country, law enforcement are beginning to see a boom in this once obsolete world. 

What was once looked at as simple prostitution now involves girls as young as 12 years old.

"It targets those individuals that have been abused or neglected. A lot of the time that just so happens to be a young girl, " said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Attorney General Dewine is one of the leading men across the country in the fight against human trafficking.

Just recently Ohio and Pennsylvania adopted stricter laws and punishments and just this week West Virginia got on board and passed new legislation  as well.

Attorney General DeWine told WTRF.com, "it's something every state should be looking into if they're not already. We're not just seeing this type of thing in the larger cities, but also as far reaching as the suburbs."

When asked if the Ohio Valley may be a target area for future human trafficking, Dewine said, "it's tough to say exactly where it will be seen, especially because this is still something new for law enforcement. What you have to understand is the recipe of what causes it. If you have a certain economy that is beginning to grow, an influx of out of town workers, and people willing to break the law, then of course."

Attorney General DeWine said he hopes to continue strengthening Ohio's laws against human trafficking and working with other state lawmakers to do the same.