SEX TRAFFICKED TEENS

December 28, 2018 at 5:00 am

PBS’ Public Eye tackles a terrifying trend- opioid fueled sex-trafficking in upstate New York.

For more information on substance abuse resources, click here. 

Aired on October 17 & December 27, 2018.

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>>> UP NORTH IN JEFFERSON
COUNTY, TEENS ARE SUFFERING THE
CONSEQUENCES OF AN OPIOID
INVASION AS SEX TRAFFICKERS HAVE
BEGUN USING ADDICTIVE HEROIN TO
COERCE AND CONTROL CHILDREN NO
OLDER THAN YOUR AVERAGE HIGH
SCHOOLER.
LIKE SO MANY OTHER AREAS OF
NEW YORK, THE COUNTY IS BATTLING
INCREASED DEATHS DUE TO
UNINTENTIONAL OVERDOSES.
IN THE PAST DECADE ALONG "THE
WATER TOWN DAILY TIMES" REPORTS
THAT THE NUMBER OF
OPIOID-RELATED DEATHS HAS GROWN
ALMOST EIGHT FOLD.
WE JOIN PUBLIC EYES JEFF COLE
AND CHIEF DISTRICT ATTORNEY
CHRISTINA MILLS TO TALK ABOUT
THE TRAFFICKING AND ADDICTION
ROBBING CHILDREN OF THEIR
FUTURES.
>> SO THE GOVERNOR HAS CALLED
THE HEROIN PROBLEM AN EPIDEMIC
IN NEW YORK STATE.
DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?
IS IT AN EPIDEMIC IN JEFFERSON
COUNTY?
>> IT IS ABSOLUTELY AN EPIDEMIC.
I HAVE BEEN PROSECUTING THESE
CASES FOR 19 YEARS NOW AND WE
HAVE SEEN A HUGIN CREASE IN
HEROIN, PROBABLY OVER THE LAST
FIVE YEARS, PARTICULARLY IN THE
LAST YEAR OR TWO.
WE HAVE SEEN AN INCREASE IN
HEROIN OVERDOSES, INCREASE IN
DEATHS RELATED TO HEROIN.
PROBABLY NINE OUT OF THE TEN
DRUG CASES THAT WE PROSECUTE NOW
ARE HEROIN CASES.
>> GIVE ME A COMPARISON.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN -- MAYBE
FIVE YEARS AGO AND WHAT IS IT
LIKE NOW?
FIVE YEARS AGO WHAT DID YOU SEE?
>> FIVE YEARS AGO WE WERE
PROSECUTING MOSTLY COCAINE
CASES, MOSTLY CRACK COCAINE
CASES.
YOU KNOW, WE WOULD HAVE A
SMATTERING OF HEROIN CASES, IT
WASN'T UNHEARD OF.
TEN YEARS AGO IT WAS EVEN MORE
RARE.
NOW, AS I SAID, IT IS NINE OUT
OF TEN CASES, AND THE PRICES OF
HEROIN HAVE GONE DOWN
DRAMATICALLY BECAUSE OF THAT.
I BELIEVE IT IS ALSO DRUG OF
CHOICE BECAUSE IT IS HIGHLY
ADDICTIVE.
ONCE YOU GET ADDICTED TO HEROIN,
IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET OFF.
SO A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT USE
HEROIN END UP USING IT FOR LONG
PERIODS OF TIME.
>> HOW BIG OF A PROBLEM DO YOU
THINK IT IS IN OUR HIGH SCHOOLS?
>> I HAVEN'T SEEN A LOT OF THAT
COMING OUT OF THE HIGH SCHOOLS
YET.
I ANTICIPATE THAT IT IS GOING TO
BE A BIG PROBLEM.
I HAVE -- WE HAVE RECEIVED
INTELLIGENCE THAT IT IS SHOWING
UP AT HIGH SCHOOL PARTIES, THAT
HIGH SCHOOL KIDS ARE USING, BUT
WE HAVEN'T DEVELOPED A LOT OF
STATISTICS ON THAT YET.
>> THAT'S SCARY.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> WHY?
>> I HAVE A HIGH SCHOOL-AGE
DAUGHTER.
IT JUST AFFECTS EVERYBODY, AND
IT REALLY RUINS PEOPLE'S LIVES
AND IT RUINS FAMILIES.
I HAVE SEEN, YOU KNOW, PERFECTLY
GOOD, HEALTHY FAMILIES WITH A
CHILD THAT GETS ADDICTED, AND
THE WHOLE FAMILY GOES DOWN THE
TUBES TRYING TO SAVE THE CHILD.
>> SO WHAT IN YOUR OPINION IS
THE LONG-TERM FOCUS ON THE
SCHOOLS, WHAT MASS TO HAPPEN
WITHIN THE SCHOOLS TO COMBAT
THIS?
>> I THINK THERE HAS TO BE SOME
VERY, VERY SERIOUS EDUCATION FOR
THE CHILDREN.
EDUCATING THEM HOW ADDICTIVE
HEROIN IS AND HOW EASILY THEY
CAN OVERDOSE ON HEROIN.
I THINK YOU NEED TO PUT FEAR
INTO THEM BECAUSE THIS IS A VERY
FEARFUL DRUG.
IT IS A DRUG THAT SHOULD BE
FEARED.
IN FACT, IT IS ONE OF THE WORST
DRUGS I CAN THINK OF OUT THERE.
>> YOU SEE A CORRELATION OR A
CONNECTION BETWEEN DIFFERENT
CRIMES AND HEROIN, AND ONE OF
THOSE CRIMES IS PROSTITUTION.
THAT RAISES EYEBROWS WHEN YOU
TALK ABOUT A PROSTITUTION
PROBLEM IN WATERTOWN.
IS THERE ONE BECAUSE OF HEROIN?
>> THERE IS AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS
PROSTITUTION PROBLEM RIGHT NOW
IN WATERTOWN.
WE ARE SEEING IT THROUGHOUT ALL
OF THE HOTELS.
THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT
INCREASE IN PROSTITUTION
ACTIVITY HERE, AND IT IS NOT THE
TYPICAL PROSTITUTION ACTIVITY
THAT YOU WOULD EXPECT.
YOU KNOW, GIRLS GETTING OUTSIDE
OF STREET CORNERS.
IT IS ALL INTERNET-DRIVEN, AND
IT IS A VERY, VERY SIGNIFICANT
PROBLEM, AND I WOULD SAY
THREE-QUARTERS OF THE
PROSTITUTES WE HAVE DEALT WITH
HAVE ALL BEEN HEROIN ADDICTS.
KIDS THAT ARE FROM GOOD
FAMILIES, THEY'RE GOING TO HIGH
SCHOOL PARTIES AND THEY'RE
TRYING IT AND GETTING HOOKED,
AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW
THEY'RE DOWN IN ANOTHER CITY
PROSTITUTING THEMSELVES, TRYING
TO GET MORE HEROIN.
WE HAVE SEEN THAT.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IS THE PEOPLE
ARE GETTING THESE GIRLS HOOKED
ON HEROIN OR EXPLOITING A HEROIN
ADDICTION, GETTING THE GIRLS TO
GO OUT AND PROSTITUTE
THEMSELVES, AND THEY'RE TAKING
ALL OF THEIR MONEY AND JUST
PAYING THEM IN A FEW BAG GOES OF
HEROIN HERE AND THERE TO KEEP
THEM HIGH.
SO THEY'RE BASICALLY MAKING TONS
OF MONEY.
>> THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL OF
THIS.
I MEAN IF YOU HAVE HEROIN AND
THAT'S A PROBLEM AND THAT WILL
SHOCK PEOPLE, BUT THEN WHEN YOU
TALK ABOUT PROSTITUTION, THAT
WILL SHOCK PEOPLE.
THESE ARE BIG-CITY PROBLEMS.
WHAT IS THIS DOING IN WATERTOWN?
>> THEY ARE BIG CITY PROBLEMS,
BUT WE ARE REALLY DEVELOPING A
LOT OF BIG-CITY PROBLEMS, AND
THE HEROIN EPIDEMIC IS JUST
FUELLING THE FIRE.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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