Trafficking in the State of North Dakota
What’s happening here?
In 2016, the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force directly served 79 clients who experienced commercial sexual exploitation or human trafficking. 75 were U.S. Citizens or legal permanent residents, and 4 were foreign national victims. 66 of the clients experienced sex trafficking, 3 experienced labor trafficking, and 9 were victims of both. 26 of these victims were minors. Clients were trafficked in all corners of the state. They experienced trafficking primarily in hotel and private residences, but also in the street, parking lots, construction sites, bars, and bus stations. Learn more here
At Youthworks, Survivor Leadership and Mentorship is provided to clients and direct service organizations working with survivors of human trafficking. The Survivor Leader and Educator also assists with training professionals all over the state, helping to raise awareness about the importance of partnership with survivors when developing response protocols and best practices. Learn more here:
Trafficked Video Article 1 Article 2
Law Enforcement and service providers have worked cooperatively with Canadian provinces to examine best practices and evaluate the risk of international trafficking over the international border. Collaborations continue with this regional group, and are a good example of the creative ways that North Dakota collaborates across borders and agencies.
FUSE, the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force and dozens of direct service providers ensure that survivors of trafficking in North Dakota are provided with housing, personal items, financial assistance, medical services, mental health services, advocacy and case managements, emotional and moral support, legal services, protection, and safety planning and other services. Multidisciplinary teams, led by Regional Navigator, meet in ten communities across North Dakota to coordinate these services.
Between 2015 and 2016, a resident of Tuttle, ND, induced and enticed a 14-year-old minor from the Philippines to engage in and produce images of sexually explicit conduct via the internet. Communications between the perpetrator and the victim revealed that he was attempting to arrange a meeting with the minor, in a Philippines hotel, with the intent of engaging in sexual acts with her. The case was prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office of North Dakota. The perpetrator was convicted of multiple counts and was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison.
The Bakken Oil Boom had positive and negative effects on North Dakota. Many national and international news outlets explored the impact of the explosive growth of oil drilling in western North Dakota, highlighting the increase in commercial sex that accompanied the growth. Marie Claire’s two-part series featured FUSE’s work in North Dakota, and explored the impact of trafficking on the MHA Nation. Learn more here: Part 1 Part 2
The prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking in North Dakota became front page news in 2012. The increase in sex trafficking has often been attributed to the influx of workers that came in to the state due to the Bakken Oil boom, which created a heavily male workforce in the very rural Western part of the state. FUSE and the NDHTTF have learned, through proactive work and outreach, that human trafficking is a problem that effects all corners of North Dakota.
In recent years, law enforcement in North Dakota have conducted proactive operations aimed at catching purchasers of commercial sex in what are sometimes referred to as “John’s Stings.” In 2015, Minot police took part in a national effort promoted by the Cook County Sherriff’s Office in Illinois. The national day of stings netted 570 arrests of would-be purchasers of sex nationwide. Similar operations in North Dakota have taken place in Williston, Dickinson, Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks.
Devils Lake and Spirit Lake Nation operate a joint multi-disciplinary team (MDT) composed of local law enforcement, domestic violence/sexual assault advocates, mental health providers, Juvenile Court Officers, Child Protective Services and Foster care staff and other members of the communities. The team has created a local protocol for a coordinated response to suspected human trafficking, and will continue to work on proactively addressing human trafficking in their communities. MDTs are also meeting in the following communities: Williston, Watford City, Stanley, Dickinson, Minot, Hazen/Beulah, Bismarck, Jamestown, Fargo/Moorhead and Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.
FUSE is the statewide anti-trafficking coalition in North Dakota. FUSE is a space for advocates, direct service providers, law enforcement, and allied partners who are seeking to develop and implement a coordinated, comprehensive response to the sex trafficking crisis in North Dakota.
Exploiting various vulnerabilities, human trafficking hides itself in plain sight. In North Dakota, demand is flourishing.Learn More
Whether you are seeking help, or unsure how to provide help, don’t hesitate to reach out. FUSE partners with the NDHTTF to continually create, and support, local response networks.Learn More
Putting an end to human trafficking won’t be easy. Fortunately, you aren’t alone. Resources are available to educate you on how you can help.Learn More
To support FUSE and its partners, click here.Learn More
Recognize the Signs
All of these factors can indicate human trafficking. Suspect trafficking? Click the link below to contact our regional for next steps.
- Is not free to come and go as he/she wishes
- Is paid very little or through tips
- Works excessively long or unusual hours
- Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
- Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, or paranoid
- Unusual behavior when law enforcement shows up
- Avoids eye contact
- Appears malnourished
- Shows signs of abuse, confinement, or torture
- Has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money/ID
- Has ownership tattoos – eg: “Nick’s Girl”
- Is not allowed to be able to speak for themselves
- Lack of knowledge or whereabouts
- Loss of sense of time
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
Who is buying sex? Your average “John“
had children who are girls
had some college or completed college
No previous criminal history
*Statistics courtesy of breakingfree.net, a non-profit organization serving women involved in systems of abuse, exploitation, and prostitution/sex trafficking