ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s considered one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises and one of the hardest to take down.
“She might be being manipulated by him, even in the judicial process,” Jane Wells, Producer and Co-Director of the documentary Tricked tells KMOX about the victims of sex traffickers. “She’s very afraid of him and the repercussions.”
Wells and her crew spent nearly two years with the Denver Vice Squad and other agencies. They had hoped to follow a victim from her rescue, to the arrest and prosecution of the pimp.
“There never was a single case that we were able to follow entirely through that process,” explains Wells. “It’s hard for people…to truly understand how much fear there is and how much coercion there is and how brainwashed some of these young people can be. There can be physical threats, there can be threats against family or some victims believe they are in love with their boyfriends and are somehow serving the relationship and that’s heartbreaking to see but very common.”
Special Report: Children For Sale
This is what one survivor told Wells: ‘My pimp took my virginity and I fell in love with him. He was my first love, he was my first everything.”
Wells tells KMOX she was surprised by many of the pimps’ charisma. “The pimps are quite charming. And because we have an idea in our heads that these are bad people the idea that one can go in as a journalist and be charmed by them is very disarming. Of course in order to be effective a pimp has to be charming.”
Wells says even decades later women rescued from the sex trades suffer emotional and physical effects. Federal officials say St. Louis is one of the top markets for sex trafficking in the country.
The Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis is bringing Tricked to the Tivoli on March 20th. Click here for more on tickets to the screening.