Earlier this year, two Lawrence County men were charged with domestic human trafficking – an issue that Barb Bohizic, activist against human trafficking and co-founder of Stop Taking Advantage of the Needy, Disabled and Disadvantaged (STANDD), says happens a lot more in the community than people realize.
Several years ago, after personally meeting an underage boy in Wayne Township who had admitted that his father would offer him to friends in exchange for drugs, Bohizic knew she had to do something to raise awareness in the community.
“The boy admitted to me what was happening and after an investigation they found him and his brother living in deplorable conditions that no one should endure,” she said. “People think it only happens in other communities but it happens everywhere, including Lawrence County.”
The Lawrence County FBI has been alerted to the issue and have been offering domestic human trafficking educational training seminars at the local churches.
A specialist from the FBI teaches the attendees how to recognize the signs of domestic human trafficking and how to address the situation.
The Beaver County DA has been attending the meetings and getting involved, however the Lawrence County DA has not responded to the requests. Bohizic has also been inviting the local police authorities to the meetings with little luck.
“I’m not criticizing them for not coming, but I would like to see them attend because we could use their help,” she stated.
There will be a seminar today at 1p.m. at the First Baptist Church at 220 Fountain Ave., in Ellwood City. The event is free to attend and open to the public.
The local churches have been very supportive of the seminars and allowing the meetings to be held at their locations; now Bohizic just hopes to see more people attend. “This is modern day slavery, we need to save those who are being held captive in human trafficking.”
UPDATE: Posted yesterday by an Ohio news source, 9 men were arrested, one of which was a New Castle resident and another of Perry Township, in a human trafficking sting. More information here.