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2006 (Narrative date)

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.

19-year-old Miya was working at a mall in Phoenix, Arizona selling sunglasses. One day when she was working, she was approached by a young woman and a well-dressed man who said they were looking for new models in the area. The next morning Miya was thrilled when the couple took her to have her hair, makeup and nails done. At that point, she said she had no idea she was not being made over for a photo shoot but for a much more insidious reason. Later, when the couple began taking pictures, Miya said she became alarmed. Rather than becoming a model, Miya was forced into prostitution.

He asked if it would be out of place if he said I was pretty. I was like, 'No.' I mean, it was a compliment.

He said that he was a model agent, [that] he was looking for new models in the area, it’s not like something I've been wanting to do or anything, but, I mean, it was ... it seemed interesting.

They said they were on their way to California to go back to their office and they were going to do some more photo shoots, and they wanted me to go along with them. He said that I could probably make about a thousand or more. ... He said I could try it for three days. ... And so, I went with them.

They used just a cheap camera you can buy, the throwaway, and they said once we get to California that we would be at a photo shoot, and that they'd be using, uh, some really good equipment, they'd have makeup artists and stuff like that.

He showed me a website that he put them up on, and it was an escort service site.

I mean, I was really far away from my house, and I didn't know where to go.

I waited till they were completely asleep. And I put my suitcase by the door. And I was about to leave and ...sure enough, the phone rings.

[Miya handed her captor his phone and told him she was going downstairs for a cigarette]

And that was the last time I talked to him. I grabbed my suitcase, and I ran to the elevator and I got outside and I started running until I got as far away as I possibly could.

I was just so glad I was out of their reach.

[The police asked Miya to help catch the man who had lured her away from the mall]

They found out what room he was in. He tried jumping out the window. And they caught him.


Courtesy of ABC News