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‘Red Sand Project’ at Utah State Capitol brings awareness to sex trafficking

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Human trafficking is happening everywhere, not just on the other side of the world, according to victim advocates.  They say there are many people here in Utah falling through the cracks.

Rep. Angela Romero organized Sunday’s “Red Sand Project” at the Utah State Capitol.  About two dozen people participated by pouring packets of red sand into the cracks of the Capitol steps.

“The red sand represents all the individuals who have been impacted or affected by human trafficking that fall through the cracks,” said Rep. Romero. “We want people to remember that there are people out there because of force, fraud and coercion participating in commercial sex.”

Kevin Claush participated in today’s event.  He served in the Army for 12 years and currently works with the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“People are living in bondage right now across the country, across the world and even in our own city, in our backyard,” said Claush. “We don’t notice it necessarily but it’s occurring.”

Rep. Romero says women legislators nationwide did similar projects Sunday in their own communities to bring awareness to human trafficking.  She says in the next legislative session, she plans to run a bill asking for funding for a new facility, specifically designed to help people who have been trafficked.

Claush says outside of drugs, human trafficking is the largest illegal industry in the world.

“It is rapidly competing with drugs, because you can sell cocaine once and then it’s gone and you’ve got to get the consumer to come back again,” said Claush. “But you can sell a person over and over and over and over again in the same day.  So people are just much more profitable.”

Countless grains of sand representing countless victims of human trafficking. A global and local problem, but one that can hopefully be stopped.

“For me it’s about letting people who are victims of this type of crime know that there’s resources out there for them and we’re here willing to help,” said Rep. Romero.

“I’ve been around the world and I’ve seen it firsthand.  It makes me retch every time,” said Claush. “It’s time that it ends.”

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