Federal human trafficking cases declining; Ohio survivor says more work needs to be done

Ohio
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio is one of the top states in the country for human trafficking. 

However, a recent report reveals there are significantly less federal human trafficking cases in our area.

Across the country, the number of federal cases dropped by nearly a third last year.

“I don’t know if there will ever be an end to this, but at least we are making a dent in it,” said Hollie Daniels, who is a human trafficking survivor.

For 17 years, Daniels said she was trafficked and it started at age 15 when her own mother got her into it.

“Many times, I tried to get out, but I felt like I didn’t have a support system. My whole family was dysfunctional and toxic,” Daniels said.

She now considers herself a survivor.

“I’ve been raped, beat and held hostage. I can’t count how many times those things have happened to me,” Daniels said.

The newly released 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report states there have been nearly 40 percent fewer criminal human trafficking cases in Ohio’s Southern District than last year. 

Franklin County is part of that district.

“It was surprising to see their numbers are down given the focus nationally and here in Ohio,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

While district numbers may be down, O’Brien said locally, it’s still a problem.

“The only explanation I can think of is that our case numbers are up,” O’Brien said.

Just last week prosecutors convicted two human trafficking ringleaders.

“Depending on where the available penalties are the strongest, the task force will bring the case to the federal authorities or to us,” O’Brien said.

As for Daniels, she is using her past to help others with an organization called Reaching for the Shining Starz, which is a street outreach program.

“I didn’t go through everything I went through not to be able to help someone else,” Daniels said.

NBC4 reached out to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District to see if they could explain the drop in cases, but never got a statement.

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