It was the focus of a meeting designed to better educate the public Monday night.
Six men believed to all be undocumented immigrants from Guatamala are in the Green Lake County jail on suspicion of second-degree sexual assault.
The sheriff’s department says late in the night on Thanksgiving a girl who was a runaway called 911 saying she was the victim of sex trafficking and just escaped from a home where she was being held.
That led to the arrest of these men in Manchester Township.
The incident was a big part of the conversation among those who showed up for a meeting of the county’s task force specifically addressing the issue.
“People do think this only happens in the larger cities like Milwaukee and Madison. Unfortunately it is happening in rural areas such as Green Lake, or Waushara, or Fond du Lac County. It’s just behind the scenes,” said Jessica Bielmeier, who is the co-chair of the Green Lake County Human Trafficking Task Force.
While the case has brought the issue close to home for many in the county, specific details have yet to be released, such as where the victim came from or how she was able to escape.
Green Lake County Chief Deputy Matt Vande Kolk said, “We’ve been able to release some information on that, but is an on-going investigation and we’re working hard to make sure that we cover all the leads in that investigation so at this time I’m not able to release any further information. Hopefully in the weeks and months to come we will be able to tell you a lot more.”
Just in the past couple of months we’re told three victims of human trafficking have come forward seeking help just in Green Lake County.
Overall, statewide numbers for 2019 are due out soon
January is also human trafficking awareness month, so during the meeting much of the focus was on education and awareness.
“Parents need to be involved, they need to be aware of what their children are doing on social media, who they are accepting friend requests from and be involved and talk about it because it’s the only way we are going to be able to make a change in our communities,” said Jordyn Zabel, a Green Lake County social worker.