Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sex Trafficking May (or May Not) Be 'Happening at Every Hotel in Boise'

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 2:52 PM

  • Adam Rosenlund

In the April 2 edition of Boise Weekly, readers learned about Boise's place in a region-wide prostitution and sex trafficking circuit.

In a story released April 30, KTVB News released the story of an Oregon woman who had been conscripted into sex trafficking—a phenomenon that is increasingly pervasive in Southwestern Idaho. In one statement, attributed to the Boise Police Department, "this is happening at every hotel in Boise."

But that's not true. According to BPD Communications Director Lynn Hightower, "A Boise Police Gang Detective says sex trafficking may be happening in every hotel" (emphasis added).

The notion that sex trafficking and/or prostitution is taking place in every hotel in the City of Trees took Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director John Cohen off guard.

"I would find that hard to believe. ...That surprises me that it's happening in every single hotel in Boise. You'd think it'd be focused on more of the budget properties," he said. "It's not associated with our brand in any way. People don't think, 'Boise: prostitution.' It's not on our radar because we're not perceived as a destination for prostitution." 

But according to Hightower, these kinds of crimes are "very widespread," and law enforcement is "increasingly understanding that prostitutes are often the victims of force and coercion pushing or trapping them in that lifestyle," she wrote in an email.

The Boise Police Department is holding an awareness training session about slavery and human trafficking at St. Mary's Catholic Church Thursday, May 7, at 6 p.m. titled How Gangs Are Involved in Commercial Sex Trafficking. It will be overseen by Det. Mike Miraglia of the BPD Gangs Unit. For more info, call Merikay Jost  of Idaho Against Human Trafficking at 208-384-5106.

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