Eugene (KMTR) – The issue of human trafficking has been in the news in the past few days.
A women’s advocacy club says it is not a problem far from where you live. In fact, the Lane County District Attorney's Office and Oregon State Police say the problem is rampant and growing in cities along the Interstate 5 corridor.
Just days ago, police arrested David Zimmer of Eugene in a sting operation. They say he tried to sell a 15-year-old local girl to an undercover officer. He is alleged to have offered her up for money and drugs.
The local chapter of the Zonta Club, an international women's advocacy group, is trying to get people to realize this is a local problem. It does not necessarily mean girls are being kidnapped and moved to other cities, it means pimps are targeting minors, forcing or manipulating them to do things against their will, and making money from the crime.
“They understand exactly how to get to these girls and manipulate them into situations where they can control them. Even while living in the home of their parents, they can get them to do whatever they want them to do,” said Eugene Zonta president Liz Ness.
The Zonta club says it is trying to fight back through education and changes in the law.
The group says one of the keys is to get kids to understand the dangers of trafficking and for parents to watch for the warning signs.Zonta is also pushing for a local law that would hold pimps financially accountable for the therapy trafficking victims may need. And the group wants the suspects to face stiff fines and property seizures to pay for the programs.