Recently, a private event was held in Billings with leaders from the local FBI, and officials flown into Billings from Salt Lake City, to present the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force with a Director's Community Leadership Award on behalf of FBI Director Christopher Wray.

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What is the award for?

The Director's Community Leadership Award (DCLA) is presented yearly to 50 individuals or organizations from around the United States, who their local FBI region has nominated, for recognition of their "outstanding contributions to their communities through service" in fighting crime, terrorism, drug, and violence in America.

The task force was nominated in 2021 by the Salt Lake City division, which covers Utah, Idaho, and Montana.

Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery.

... said Special Agent in Charge Rice.

The FBI takes a victim-centered approach, ensuring victims have access to resources while also building a case against traffickers. The FBI can’t do our job combating this issue without partners like this Task Force.

About Human Trafficking

From the official release:

Globally, human trafficking is equal to arms trafficking as the second-largest international criminal industry – behind only drug trafficking. It is estimated to be a 150 billion dollar a year industry with as many as 40 million people around the world living in slavery. In Montana, sex trafficking is more prevalent than labor trafficking, and it comes in various forms: escort services (primarily arranged online, as either in-call or out-call dates), illicit massage businesses (“IMBs”), missing and murdered indigenous persons (“MMIP”), outdoor solicitation, personal sexual servitude, services performed in strip clubs or other night clubs, and survival sex, among other forms.  Some recent reports have ranked Montana fourth per capita in terms of the size of its human trafficking problem. On any given night in Billings, law enforcement officials have reported that there are anywhere between 5 and 10 women who are being actively advertised for commercial sex by their pimps.

Why was the task force created?

Penny Ronning and Stephanie Baucus, co-founders and co-chairs of the task force, created it in 2016 to improve coordination between law enforcement and members of the public, and to close gaps in services for victims and survivors. The task force also aims to increase collaboration and resource sharing, raise awareness of sex trafficking and forced labor in our area, and prevent human trafficking.

Where can I read more?

Click the button below for the complete press release from the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force.

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