Sex trafficking is a growing problem across the Silver State, but one non-profit group here in our area wants to put a stop to it.
Awaken INC held a discussion in front of a large crowd at the University of Nevada. They want more people to realize what's really going on in our community.
"You're going to find, like, 200 ads a day locally of girls selling their bodies for sex illegally in Reno," says Melissa Holland.
Holland created Awaken INC a year and a half ago. The group fights against sexual trafficking and exploitation across Nevada.
She says the reason it's such a problem is because prostitution is legal in most parts of the state.
"When you legalize prostitution, you increase the demand to prostitute girls," says Holland. "When you increase the demand, you have to increase the supply. And, that's sex trafficking."
You ask the Reno Police Department, and officers will tell you the same thing. Girls as young as 12-years old, walking the streets.
"We do have statistics that do point out that there is a problem here," says Sgt. Ron Chalmers. "This summer, we recovered 12 and 14 year old juveniles that were walking on our streets in the city of Reno."
Holland pointed out that if the Nevada Legislature passes Assembly Bill 67 though, pimps will face harsher penalties for sex trafficking.
"Right now, to pimp a girl out is called pandering, and you get like a year for it, and that's it," says Holland.
Reno Police are using a lot of its resources to combat the problem. The hope is, by getting the community involved and aware, we can keep it from expanding.
"Will it absolutely go away? I don't know how realistic that is," says Sgt. Chalmers. "But hopefully, we can make it at least in our community extremely minimal."