FARGO — The head of a Fargo-based anti-human trafficking nonprofit is traveling to Washington, D.C., this week as a guest of the U.S. State Department for the unveiling of new global human trafficking numbers, Thursday, June 20.
Unseen co-founder Than Baardson, whose organization helps and equips anti-trafficking groups in 35 countries, will be present as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ivanka Trump present the findings of the 2019 Trafficking In Persons Report.
The release of the new international report comes as a national report sheds light on the federal system's work to address the issue of trafficking in the United States.
There were seven criminal convictions for human trafficking in North Dakota in 2018, ranking the state 14th in the U.S., according to a June report from the Human Trafficking Institute, a Fairfax, Va.-based advocacy group. The state ranks 34th in the country for the number of active criminal trafficking cases making their way through federal courts.
The numbers do not capture state cases or unreported cases but offer a look into federal efforts to target human trafficking in North Dakota. On the state level, the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force reports the state helped more than 322 victims of human trafficking between 2016 and 2018.
In that same period, 36 people were criminally charged for human trafficking-related incidents, and 18 were found guilty, pleaded guilty, or accepted a plea agreement, according to the task force.
The Bakken oil boom in western North Dakota brought attention to the problem of sex trafficking.
"It hasn't gone away, and numbers have not decreased either," said human trafficking specialist Melissa Williams with Youthworks, a Fargo-based service provider for homeless and runaway youth. "We are seeing numbers as high in the east as we do in the west."