Human trafficking suspect caught, experts say trend is only getting worse

Howard County - A Howard County man is in jail for human trafficking charges. Arthur Coleman was caught with two teenaged girls in Columbia by an undercover Howard County police officer.

It's another reminder that human trafficking continues to be a large problem throughout the country and here in Maryland.

Coleman was caught and the two girls were saved and are getting the proper services. But, so many stories of trafficking don't end like that and those who've seen it first hand say the only way out is to speak up.

"I wanted to grow up and be successful in life.  to actually do something for myself.  Knowing that I can do it," said a human trafficking survivor.

We cannot identify in order to keep her safe.

"It was very terrifying, there was times where I didn't know who to go see or be with I got to the point where I really couldn't take it anymore," she said.

She fell into the wrong situation and found herself in danger.

"I was in a way deeper hole than I thought I could take myself out of. But I couldn't."

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Jeanne Allert, the executive director of Samaritan Women, said the story is all too common.

"There are particular networks across the United States that are particular areas where networks are operated but those patterns change very quickly because this is a trade that follows the money," Allert said.

Young girls are searching for one thing and finding their worst nightmare.

"A teenaged girl that's looking for excitement or maybe she's looking for a bad boy kind of relationship or maybe she's looking to be defiant she can find it because technology has opened her up to a universe of possibilities," Allert said.

That's what happened to two teens in Howard County. Police found the teens on Backpage, a website notorious for having prostitution ads.

"One of the tragic trends is that the recruitment is not that hard as it's been in the past, meaning there isn't as much work to create an illusion and a lie," Allert said.

Experts are noticing trends in human trafficking. More minors are being targeted, especially in the Baltimore area.

"We have to look at this as a global problem, as a national problem, but we also have to take it locally because that's where our laws are most in effect," Allert said.

Allert said the main goal is prevention and recognizing the signs of possible trafficking. She said to focus on fearful, anxious or nervous behaviors.

"It's the type of girl that is changing her Facebook profile picture, they're more provocative, promiscuous looking or they're affording gifts and having money," she said.

Howard County police recently placed its own ad on Backpage, warning men not to engage in prostitution or human trafficking.

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