BREAKING NEWS

AG Hawley takes emergency action to shut down Missouri businesses connected to human trafficking


Legal action follows major raid across Springfield region

Jul 20, 2017, 13:14 PM
DateTime:
Jul 20, 2017, 13:13 PM

Springfield, Mo. – Attorney General Josh Hawley today took emergency legal action to shut down a series of Southwest Missouri businesses connected to human trafficking. This action follows raids Thursday across the Springfield region by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Attorney General’s Office and other agencies targeting businesses believed to be involved in illegal trafficking.

“Today’s raids make good on my promise: if you come to Missouri to conduct human trafficking, we will find you out and we will shut you down,” Hawley said. “We are going to court right now to put a stop to these terrible crimes.”

The lawsuit was filed in Greene County Circuit Court and names 16 defendants. The Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office also assisted with the suit.

In April, Attorney General Hawley announced a crackdown on human trafficking in Missouri, including new regulations under Missouri’s consumer protection laws and the creation of an Anti-Trafficking Unit in the Attorney General’s Office. Missouri is the first state in the nation to use consumer protection laws to combat human trafficking. Hawley’s Anti-Trafficking Unit participated in Thursday’s raids and is currently investigating other businesses with alleged involvement in human trafficking, including Backpage.com.

“To businesses anywhere that engage in trafficking, let the events today serve as a warning for what’s to come,” Hawley said.

"We cannot allow human traffickers to pose as legitimate businesses in our community. Today, with the help of Attorney General Hawley, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Springfield Police Department, these businesses will be exposed for what they truly are. Greene County will not tolerate human trafficking activity," Dan Patterson, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney, said.

Thursday’s raids were a coordinated effort between the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Springfield police and various other agencies. The Attorney General praised the work of all law enforcement involved, including the extraordinary efforts of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

“The Missouri Highway Patrol has carried out hundreds of hours of surveillance and devoted thousands of hours more to investigating these crimes,” Hawley said. “Their tenacity, perseverance, and skilled investigative work has saved lives today.”