The 13th amendment effectively ended slavery 150 years ago. But, a federal task force says slavery still exists in the United States today. Teenagers, and even young children, are being forced into a life of "sex slavery'' by human trafficking rings.
Human trafficking generates a lot of money. It's a $150 billion dollar industry. Nearly $100 billion is made from someone selling a young woman's body for sex. There is help for people tied up in the crime. A Birmingham organization rescued a 19-year-old woman Thursday.
Carolyn Potter runs WellHouse. The organization works to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking.
"We literally rescue them. We get calls on our crisis line. We go and get them. We bring them into our shelter and do an evaluation for several weeks," said Potter.
Potter knows human trafficking is the second-largest industry anywhere.
"It is probably one of the biggest evils in our world right now," added Potter.
Birmingham's youngest people are at risk. Potential human traffickers travel Interstates 20 and 65 to move their victims.
"It's the human trafficking highway of the southeast. So, it's about bad as it gets," added Potter.
Charles Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, is President of Birmingham Southern College. He also works with the Human Rights First.
"We've got a massive problem we are not getting a hold of and it is frightening," said Krulak.
The organization is pushing for tougher laws and stricter policies to fight the crime. Krulak believes the way to help stop the crime is disrupt the money and lock-up the money-makers.
"We do it by going after what we call the big fish. Going after people who are absolutely making remarkable profits from the slave trade," added Krulak.
Alabama has its own human trafficking task force. The task force observed today as Alabama Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Members of the task force asked mayors statewide to sign a proclamation supporting National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.