Record number of Northwest sex trafficking cases prosecuted in Oregon

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon prosecuted a record number of sex traffickers under charges of exploiting victims from Oregon and Washington, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In 2013, 14 defendants were charged with federal sex trafficking crimes in the District of Oregon and 13 were convicted.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, all of the victims were girls or young women living in Oregon or Washington when they were recruited. Three of the sex traffickers were women. For the first time in the district, a customer of a sex-trafficked child, often called a “john,” was charged by a federal grand jury.

The record number of prosecutions followed the inception of the U.S. Attorney Office’s Gang and Sex Trafficking Unit, created in 2012 to add more resources for prosecuting such crimes in Oregon. The FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force teamed up with local law enforcement agencies, including the Vancouver Police Department, to apprehend sex traffickers and rescue victims.

Under federal law, those convicted of sex trafficking a child serve at least 10 years in prison, or 15 years if the child is younger than 14. Sex traffickers can get life in prison.