The FBI child exploitation and human trafficking task force in New York is currently working on a number of cases in which victims trafficked for sex were advertised as being virus-free or willing to wear a mask and gloves.
"They’re trying to work in safety measures to ensure that customers would feel at ease to meet up with people in the ads," FBI special agent Brian Gander told ABC News.
“If you put yourself in the minds of people advertising people for sex, it’s more about making money than ethics. They do whatever it will take to make that money," he continued.
Gander declined to specify how many human trafficking cases referenced COVID-19 but he said it’s "a lot.”
“We have some cases where it’s referenced in ads, that extra layer of safety, supposedly, that the people might be wearing masks or gloves to put customers at ease," he said.
This is Crime Victims' Rights Week and the FBI is putting special focus on victims of human trafficking. Many are children who are forced into the sex trade by criminals who coerce, drug, assault and mentally abuse them.
Enforcement continues during the outbreak, meaning agents and the NYPD officers working with them take extra precautions.
“There’s just another layer that’s involved that we have to be aware of,” said Gander. “Now we have to take into consideration the safety of the detectives, the agents and everyone going out on recovery operations.”
The FBI New York field office works with dozens of community and faith-based organizations to link human trafficking with agencies that offer services: https://nycsurvivorresources.org