The Clay County Sheriff’s Office has launched a task force to investigate child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Operation Blue Ghost in early June was the kick-off for the new task force, which will work in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kansas City. During that operation from May 31 to June 2, the Sheriff’s Office’s Investigations Division arrested six men who believed they were meeting a 14-year-old girl for sex in Clay County.
The task force will include three detectives whose primary focus is to address the sexual exploitation of both children and adults in Clay County.
From its inception, this task force has worked closely with HSI and non-profit organizations like Relentless Pursuit. Relentless Pursuit, led by Director Lee Gibson, is a community-centered, faith-based organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. They strive to heal and restore survivors, bring justice to offenders, educate others on prevention and awareness, and are leaders in the community to end the exploitation of human beings.
“The goal is to make Clay County the place pedophiles don’t want to come,” Gibson said.
The task force will investigate predators seeking children for sex online, focus on adult victims of human sex trafficking, aid in prosecution, and continue to work with our partners that offer services to victims of human trafficking. Balancing enforcement with social services is the best way to make an impact.
While not openly visible, sex trafficking occurs in Clay County. Mr. Gibson cautioned against online rumors stating children or adults are being targeted for kidnapping and sex trafficking. Victims typically get involved as vulnerable youths after having run away, getting addicted to drugs or other unfortunate circumstances. The new Sheriff’s Office task force seeks to help these victims become sober and self-sufficient while holding traffickers accountable.