Committee meets to discuss human trafficking in Missouri
By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Jefferson City, Mo. – A committee tasked with coming up with ways to combat human trafficking in Missouri met today in Jefferson City.
The purpose of the Children Affected by Human Trafficking Committee is to craft recommendations for Governor Jay Nixon and state lawmakers for next year's legislative session. State Representative Jeff Grisamore (R,Lee's Summit) sits on the committee.
"We've seen cases of child sexual exploitation, that's very clear, cases of illegal employment issues, forced employment, which overseas we would call that slavery," Grisamore said.
Recommendations may include tougher penalties for trafficking and increased cooperation among law enforcement agencies. The final list will be made public at a later date.
"(Human trafficking) may not be as widespread (in Missouri) as overseas, but we definitely want to put together some containment strategies to make sure it doesn't spread, and where there are gaps in the law, that we can give more prosecutorial authority to our officials to deal with it," Grisamore said.
A number of arrests in the Kansas City area have shined a spotlight on the problem, including a sting operation last year in which four men pleaded guilty to charges of seeking sex with underage girls.