TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Investigators say human trafficking cases in northwest Ohio have picked up in the last year and a half.
A federal task force was formed seven years ago, and has since rescued 90 northwest Ohio juveniles from sex trafficking. Officials with the task force say pimps go after young girls, sometimes as young as ten years old.
"They'll come up to you at the mall. There was a point when there was a group handing out business cards," said Special Agent David Dustin with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Rachel Lloyd turned into an advocate for victims when she escaped the sex trade in Germany at 19.
"For me, I nearly died. I was nearly killed by my pimp," said Lloyd.
State Representative Teresa Fedor scheduled Lloyd to testify before the Ohio Senate during a hearing on safe harbor legislation this week. Ohio would be the 11th state in the nation to pass such legislation.
The law would make human trafficking punishable to up to 15 years in prison and not charge juvenile victims if they complete court ordered diversion programs. Pimps would have to register as sex offenders and johns would face felony charges, even if they did not know the age of the victim.
Governor John Kasich has put an emergency clause into the safe harbor law, meaning it will take effect as soon as it is signed into law.