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Advocates For the Sexually Exploited Warn of Human Trafficking Ahead of Kentucky Derby

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Saturday’s Kentucky Derby will pump millions of dollars into the Louisville-area economy.

But it will also bring an increase in the number of sexually exploited women and children.

That’s the warning from Amy Leenarts, the director of the Louisville-based anti-trafficking group Free2Hope.

She says people who make money through human trafficking are drawn to high-profile events like the Derby.

“There is a syndicate that runs across the country, and they just simply go to all these big events all over the country, and they bring people with them—girls who are enslaved.”

Leenarts is asking the public to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.

“It can be a child at a hotel where they shouldn’t be, when they’re obviously not with parents. It can be a young adult who has several different phones, or key cards from multiple hotels.”

Leenarts says traffickers use coercion and force to lure victims into sex work.

Suspected cases of human trafficking can be reported by calling 877-KYSAFE1, or 911 if someone is in immediate danger.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.