Missing Children & Sex Trafficking
Children alone are children at risk,
and at Lauth, we take that risk very seriously.
Targeting & Grooming
When parents hear stories about young people who are swept up in the dangerous world of sex trafficking, their first reaction is often that such a thing could never happen to their child. Unfortunately, sex trafficking knows no bounds of gender, race, or socioeconomic background. Sex trafficking has been reported in every state in the United States. While every minor is at risk, there used to be factors that significantly mitigated that risk, but with the ubiquity of the internet and smart technology, predators have more access to vulnerable minors than ever. Sex trafficking can be difficult to investigate for police departments that are either underfunded or inexperienced with the nuance of these investigations.
NCMEC received 23,500 reports of endangered runaways in 2018. One in seven of those children were estimated to be victims of sex trafficking. The average age of those victims was 15 years old—children with just enough agency to disappear on their own, who immediately become vulnerable to the predation of the world outside their childhood home. The age group of children targeted by strangers in abductions are female children aged 12-17. This aligns with approximate age range of minor children targeted for sex trafficking. Parents do their best to protect their children from the dangers outside the home, but with the ubiquity of the internet and smart technology, that task has become insurmountable.
Some parents wring their hands over the notion their children will be harmed by an intruder in their home. They invest in fancy security systems and GPS location trackers for their children’s cell phones. Unfortunately, the only thing that predators need to locate and procure minors for sex trafficking is an internet connection. The internet is practically a necessity these days, even for minor children, who need internet access to conduct school work, and enjoy using it to stay in touch with their friends. Unfortunately, one of humankind’s greatest inventions is also one of a predator’s most valuable tools for exploitation of minors. This can happen in chatrooms, social gaming platforms, and social media platforms. They establish a rapport with the minor, offer means to lure them out of the safety of their home, and then exploit them for profit. Even more troubling, every time security measures on one of these platforms are increased to make it safer for children to use, predators always find a way to outsmart the mousetrap.
Searching for Sex-Trafficked Minors
The nature of our states’ legal systems can make the epidemic of sex trafficking difficult to combat. Because police departments in different states don’t regularly communicate and don’t share databases, Traffickers are able to move them from state to state, moving one step ahead of law enforcement. Victims of sex trafficking are often abducted in one location, then transported to another, eventually moving them to the next state. Traffickers know the system and do their best to operate outside of it. As traffickers move minors from state to state, the police lose jurisdiction, and cannot follow the lead. This means the trail goes cold and valuable evidence and intelligence can be lost.
Lauth Investigations International is independently licensed and free from the binds of jurisdictional red tape. We have previously collaborated with local law enforcement and other authorities in order to facilitate a safe recovery from dangerous situations. Lauth’s investigators have followed minor victims of sex trafficking across the country, state to state until they can be safely and successfully recovered. We have a similar tool chest to that of law enforcement, with similar education or background in the criminal justice system. We use verified databases and provide comprehensive reports to our clients.
Our missing person investigators are not officers of the law, but that does not mean we cannot handle the more dangerous aspects of investigating sex trafficking cases. We have experience in dealings with dangerous, violent traffickers and are not deterred by terroristic threats. Our team of qualified, thorough missing persons investigators are comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel, who approach every case as if it were their own missing child.
Case Studies | Missing Person | Kadijah
Sex traffickers who target young women are usually very adept at keeping them in their circle, and sometimes the lengths traffickers will go to is frightening.
Lauth missing person investigators were contacted by a family whose 15-year-old daughter, Kadijah, was missing. They contacted law enforcement and filed a missing person report, but also had the foresight to seek the expertise of the nation’s foremost expert in missing children and adults.
The intake call and additional interviews with the family generated a credible lead that pointed to Atlanta and the home of a known sex trafficker. Lauth utilized verified databases to locate the trafficker’s criminal record and his address history to identify possible locations to take Kadijah. Lauth identified a former residence of the trafficker and was able to see the inside of the home before it was sold. Not long after that, Lauth got a lead that the trafficker and Kadijah were headed to Chicago, one of the largest hubs for sex trafficking in the United States. Despite a direct threat from the trafficker, Lauth doggedly pursued the lead to Chicago. Lauth applied proven methodology in Chicago in an attempt to locate Kadijah, but the corner she allegedly frequented turned up no additional leads. After returning from Chicago, Lauth got a tip from one of the human sources identified in the case who said that Kadijah was in the hospital, following an attack from the trafficker that involved running her over with his vehicle and resulted in a broken clavicle.
After recovering from her injuries, Kadijah was returned to her mother, and received counseling to cope with the aftermath.