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Investigator: Kenosha is prime area for sex trafficking

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Kenosha’s proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee is often considered a major convenience for local residents.

It’s also prime real estate for pimping.

Chicago frequently ranks as one of the top five cities in the nation for sex trafficking, while Milwaukee has been referred to as the “Harvard of pimp schools” for those interested in learning the trade of the estimated $150 billion industry.

Kenosha is positioned right in the middle of the I-94 pipeline.

“It’s a densely populated area with a high number of males looking to purchase sex,” said Neal Lofy, a nationally recognized investigator with the Racine Police Department. “You can order a girl to your doorstep as easy as you can get Uber Eats or Domino’s delivered.”

Sex trafficking is the second-largest organized crime behind drug trafficking.

While buying and selling drugs involves a consumable product, humans can be continually exploited, with victims forced to have sex 15 to 40 times a day.

Every year, more than 300,000 American children are trafficked.

“It’s everywhere,” Lofy said. “These are people that live in our community that were either thrown away by their families or stuck in a lifestyle that they’ve been groomed by a trafficker.

“There’s not a shiny sign on them that says, ‘I’m a human trafficking victim.’ What you see is not a victim. What you see is our child’s friend or a neighbor or our waiter or waitress. There are victims that have walked the halls in our local schools.”

Lofy works closely with local 24-hour crisis center Women and Children’s Horizons Inc., the oldest incorporated shelter in Wisconsin.

Selah Freedom, a Florida-based charity organization with a mission to end sex trafficking, is set to open its newest, and largest, safe house in Kenosha County.

The residential program includes an educational plan, job placement, trauma therapy, life skills and medical assistance for sex trafficking victims.

It’s a facility that can’t arrive soon enough, according to Lofy.

“Every shelter that currently exists is overpopulated,” Lofy said. “You could open a shelter and within a week it will be full.

“Law enforcement can recover victims. The problem is there isn’t a place for them to safely go. These girls don’t just need a home; they need a place where people are there to empower them and lift them up and get them back on their feet again.

“These girls need trauma and sexual assault counseling. Our victims have been raped multiple times. There’s a need for substance abuse programming. A lot of times to cope with what they’re going through, they’ll be dependent on a chemical to get them through it.”

Lofy is president and co-founder of Fight to End Exploitation, a non-profit organization designed to help prevent conditions that foster human trafficking in southeastern Wisconsin through education, specialized training and outreach efforts.

A member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lofy was one of 40 law enforcement officers honored in 2018 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for his dedication to the Greater Racine Human Trafficking Task Force.

Fight to End Exploitation launched a major I-94 billboard campaign in 2017.

“Education is the No. 1 way to fight trafficking,” Lofy said. “That’s what we push as a non-profit and what I push as a law enforcement officer.

“To stop or slow down trafficking, we need to have the community on our side, and they need to be aware of what they’re seeing.”

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