All this week NY1 has been looking at the issue of sex trafficking. Officers are hitting the streets, easily finding many young women wrapped up in prostitution. In part three of his series, NY1's Dean Meminger explains brutality is often used against the youngest of victims.
Awareness and concern is growing over the alarming number of teens and young women being lured into prostitution on various websites and through social media.
As we found out, however, many are still being forced to walk the streets.
"If the phone isn't ringing, nobody answering their ads, they will put the girls on the street," said Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale, who works on the NYPD's Vice Squad.
It's happening across the city, in the wee hours of the morning. Lingerie is no longer the norm, many times replaced by jeans and T-shirts.
The victims of sex trafficking blend in, which makes the prostitution harder to notice, especially if you're not looking for it.
"So this isn't like this idea that I think people have that it's only happening in other countries or only happening to women who are being brought in. These are girls that are New York City girls. They were born and raised in the city," says Rachel Lloyd, founder of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services.
They are often brutalized by pimps, traffickers and johns.
Police made a major bust after a long investigation in Hunts Point.
Several people were arrested—accused of trafficking, prostitution, rape and kidnapping.
One of the pimps pleaded guilty a few months ago.
The criminal complaint says quote, "Defendant struck said underage female on at least one occasion with a stick, causing said underage female to suffer substantial pain and soreness as well as bleeding. That defendant made said underage female sleep inside of a dog cage."
The NYPD has rescued girls as young as 12 years old, forced to sell their bodies, sometimes brought in from other states.
"We had a case of a 14-year-old girl that was lured from Delaware to Atlantic City off of a Craig’s List ad. Once the girl showed up in Atlantic City he paid for her bus fare. Met her there, brought her to the Bronx. And the next thing you know she is standing in Hunts Point," said Favale.
After spending lots of time in Hunts Point, the NYPD and its Vice Squad now have their sights set on other parts of the city.
Officers say they have plenty of pimps and traffickers on their radar.
FOR HELP AND INFORMATION ON SEX TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION
Sanctuary for Families: 212-349-6009
Safe Horizon 24-hour Hotline: 800-621-4673