Human trafficking reports up in Massachusetts, nationwide

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New data shows an increase in the number of reported human trafficking cases in the United States, and the numbers went up this past year in Massachusetts as well.

For Massachusetts, 88 cases of human trafficking were reported to the national hotline in 2016; that included 67 cases of sex trafficking and 15 cases of labor trafficking. In 2015, there had been 61 cases of human trafficking reported in the state.

The company that collected the data through the hotline, Polaris, said that they handled more than 8,000 cases across the country last year.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has run multiple operations in the western part of the state, which have resulted in arrests at some local massage parlors. The federal Department of Homeland Security was involved in some of those cases. A human trafficking task force was formed here in western Massachusetts last year.

Continuing Coverage: Human trafficking in western Massachusetts

Prosecutors say it can be difficult to build a human trafficking case, because victims are oftentimes scared to testify, in fear of their own lives.

If you know about a human trafficking situation, you are urged to contact your local police department.