While Virginia has made significant strides to confront human trafficking, it’s still a growing problem—so much so that Governor McDonnell hosted the first-ever state Human Trafficking Summit. What those in attendance learned is that while Virginia-especially Northern Virginia—is still one of the largest hubs for traffickers, law enforcement is quickly gaining ground.
The greatest problem is gangs—which have a larger following in Northern Virginia. While human trafficking takes various forms, sex trafficking is one of the WORLD's fastest-growing crimes. And it's quite lucrative for gangs. But the victims’ advocacy group, Polaris Project, says the good news is that because the region’s investigators have gained much more experience, Fairfax County has become the national model for fighting it. Detective Bill Woolf with the Fairfax County gang unit says in the past, police didn't know how to recognize trafficking or respond properly, but that's changed dramatically:
He says although law enforcement agencies are more informed about human trafficking, the challenge now is raising awareness among children, parents, school administrators, and social and clinical services.