Phoenix leads a major decline in human sex trafficking

People who want to pay for sex will find themselves the target of a program that is aimed at reducing prostitution in the Valley.

Arizona State University researchers estimate that one in every 20 adult men will pay for sex throughout the city.

“If you are going to be a buyer of sex, you’re going to get caught and you’re going to lose everything, so that’s the basic bottom line message of all this,” said Cindy McCain, Co-Chair of Arizona Human Trafficking Council.

The ‘Not Worth It’ campaign alongside the CEASE initiative (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation) is actively working toward catching the buyer of sex, more so than the pimps.

“This campaign is literally a lit-up beacon of hope to people in our city who are trapped by prostitution,” said Angelyn Bayless, CEASE Network City Manager.

The CEASE initiative is a program involving 11 cities nationwide, including Seattle, Portland, Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston and Chicago.

The goal is to reduce demand by 20 percent in two years.

“Demand is sort of the new frontier in the fight against sex trafficking,” Bayless said. “If there were no buyers, there would be no business.”

Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Scottsdale and Glendale Police are all arresting people who buy sex.

So far the campaign has helped the Phoenix police and FBI recover three juvenile victims, according to Lt. Robert Conrad.

“We arrested nine pimps, but on the other side we contacted and arrested 92 customers of prostitution,” Conrad said.

Phoenix is being recognized nationally as a leader on this issue, Bayless said.

“We actually just won an award from the CEASE initiative of the 11 cities,” Bayless said. “We won the top tactics testing and the law enforcement leader award, so we are first and we’re out there in front of it.”

To report a tip or if you suspect human trafficking, call the hotline at (602) 426-1231

For more information on the ‘Not Worth It’ campaign or the CEASE Network, visit Notworthit.org or Ceasenetwork.org