Human trafficking

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Drug Crisis Fueling Human Trafficking On Long Island

June 10, 2019 - 7:44 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The opioid crisis has been raging on Long Island for years, but law enforcement agencies are finding that it’s helping to fuel another crisis: human trafficking.

Human trafficking was already a problem on Long Island.

“Long Island is one of the top 20 or 21 hot zones for human sex trafficking in the United States,’ said Anthony Zenkus, of VIBS Family Violence & Rape Crisis Center.

But the prevalence of opioid like fentanyl has only made the crisis worse, according to Zenkus.

“It’s not uncommon for traffickers, also known as pimps, to use opioid and other drugs to keep their victims dependent on them,” Zenkus said. “Opioids bind to the same receptors in our brain that get stimulated when we are held and loved as a child.”

The average age of victims brought into human trafficking is 12 to 14, Zenkus says, adding that they're all around us.

“More than 80 percent are people that were born right here,” Zenkus said.

He says law enforcement agencies have come around to view these woman as victims instead of prostitutes, but the only sure way to put an end to this crisis is to cut off the demand, Zenkus says.

“As long as the men, whose money fuels trafficking, are not prosecuted, this is going to continue,” he said.

“There's a lot of money out here, and the majority of the people who are procuring the services of trafficking victims are people that have disposable income.”