LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Las Vegas non-profit is raising money to combat a growing problem in the valley, not often talked about: human trafficking.
According to the state Attorney General’s office, last year Metro police found 107 children victimized by human traffickers.
The non-profit Awareness is Prevention (AIP) held a fundraiser Sunday night. The money will fund its new program, "Awareness through the Arts," which starts in CCSD and other local schools this year. It’s a way to teach children about human trafficking so that they don’t become victims.
They say money can buy you anything. In the human trafficking industry, that applies to people, too.
“There is so much money in trafficking,” AIP founder Lena Walther said. “The traffickers aren't going to stop. They're getting more and more aggressive.”
It’s a billion dollar industry and Vegas is a hub.
“The trafficking is becoming so brutal,” Walther said. “You have the gangs. Gangs coming in from California.”
It happens on the Strip, in neighborhoods, malls and parks.
“It’s frightening what's going on,” Walther said. “You cannot let your child walk alone, even go to the mall by themselves.”
More often than not, you don’t realize what’s going on and victims won’t speak up.
“You’re never going to see them,” Walther said. “The girls are scared to death.”
At a fundraiser on Sunday, survivor Timea Nagy shared her experience. She came to Canada from Hungary, thinking she was getting a good job.
“The only people who spoke my language were my traffickers,” she said.
Her traffickers locked her in a motel and forced her to work 20 hours a day.
“The chain that we have is not on our hands, it's in our brain,” Nagy said. “Because they told us over and over again what happens if we leave the room.”
Until she escaped, Nagy sang songs and used music as an outlet and a way to heal.
That’s why she is supporting the Awareness through the Arts program and helping in fundraising efforts.
“What if we go one step ahead and make sure girls and boys don't become a victim,” she said. “I came to Vegas to tell my story, sing my song and help people to feel and understand what happens once it’s too late.”
Along with AIP’s Awareness through the Arts program in schools, the non-profit also works with other advocacy groups in helping victims. It also trains Metro police officers to spot possible victims.