Sex Industry’s Shift Online Poses Challenges for Investigators


The sex industry is moving from the streets to computer screens, and Texas authorities say their efforts to enforce the law and find and protect victims are hampered by the shift, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Detectives have made strides to fight what they describe as a modern-day form of slavery by enhancing their collaboration across jurisdictions and their use of tools on the Web, where victims are easier to hide, predators harder to catch, and evidence tougher and more time-consuming to gather.

Authorities said offline efforts are just as important, such as training officers, emergency responders and residents on how to detect potential sex trafficking circles in their own communities. At its core, social workers and detectives say that the universal model for one of the world’s oldest professions remains much the same: men capitalizing on young women. The sex trade no longer is mostly girls hanging around dark city corners looking for business. It is a multibillion-dollar enterprise that has expanded to hundreds of thousands of women advertising — or being forced to advertise — their services on countless online classified ads, teen dating and social networking sites.

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