Cynthia Cordes, a federal prosecutor in Kansas City, has become a leading advocate for addressing the growing problem of sex trafficking by targeting the men who seek to have sex with teenage girls. She spoke this week at the eighth annual “Protect Our Children Conference” in Wichita, reports the city’s Eagle. In 2009, Cordes worked with police in Independence, Mo., to set up a sting that began when they placed online classified ads for “young fun” and “little girls.” “Within the first 24 hours, we got 500 responses,” Cordes said.
Last month, the Department of Justice approved a pilot program for enhanced enforcement task forces to combat sex trafficking from St. Louis to western Kansas. It will be headquartered in Kansas City, where Cordes works as an assistant U.S. Attorney. She is among a growing number of law enforcers who have started viewing the females involved in commercial sex as victims, rather than prostitutes. “It’s so hidden, people say it doesn’t happen here, but all you have to do is look, and it’s there,” said Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for Kansas.