An undercover operation that led to the arrests of 15 people during Cheyenne Frontier Days has put a spotlight on human trafficking in the state. The sting was a joint effort by the Cheyenne Police Department, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, and the FBI, and several individuals involved in the operation were members of the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force.
Cara Chambers is the director of the Division of Victim’s Services and chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force. She said sporting events where lots of people come together like the Superbowl or Cheyenne Frontier Days can be hubs for human trafficking, but that the task force needs to be vigilant other times of year as well.
“We have two major interstates that, you know, are a huge corridor for trafficking. So it’s not only happening around these events, but these are a good opportunity for law enforcement to have this sort of big push at both awareness and interdicting these criminal activities,” she said.
Chambers said they are always on the lookout for victims, but that the women arrested in this case all identified as willing participants.
“But it is tricky. It takes understanding the dynamics of this particular crime to realize that you are dealing with actors who may be both participating in criminal activities yet still victims,” said Chambers.
This is the task force’s first year, but Chambers said she hopes it will continue to grow. The goal is to support law enforcement, and to eventually train local task forces in all of the state’s counties as well as on the Wind River Indian Reservation.