During a talk on child exploitation and human trafficking Monday, Oct. 16, at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, Kenosha, Elizabeth Yore made a statement that may be difficult to believe.

“There are more slaves today than at any point in human history,” said Yore, a globally recognized expert in human trafficking.

She’s worked as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate for Harpo Inc., and is an attorney who served as General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She currently consults with various schools, institutions and corporations on child exploitation issues and founded “Yore Children” to assist youth. Additionally, she has met with Pope Francis in her role as an international child-protection advocate.

“Our greatest fears are realized with human trafficking exploding in the United States,” she said. “We need to look at this crisis with our eyes wide open. Human trafficking is a complex web of cells. It is evil and destroys innocence. It is diabolical and affects the vulnerable. It is maddeningly elusive, lucrative, dangerous, demonic, covert and hidden in plain sight. It is a clandestine cabal.”

According to the National Trafficking Hotline, 56 percent of prostituted women were initially runaway youth. Yore added that runaway and homeless youth often lack a strong support system, which makes them vulnerable to trafficking.

Yore chronicled several cases of children and young women around the globe who were trafficked, with many of them murdered. She explained that it is a $150 billion-a-year industry in the United States.

“It could be more; we really don’t know for sure,” she said. “The victims are 75 percent women and girls, and the demand is the greatest right here in the USA.”

Yore listed numerous famous Americans as well as two large banking institutions as purveyors of human trafficking. Two lawsuits were recently filed against the two financial institutions that allegedly ignored and concealed the Jeffrey Epstein trafficking enterprise.

“There are around 100,000 missing children from 150 countries, according to a report from the Office of Inspector General,” she said. “Most are floating around in the U.S., and we don’t know where they are, but the traffickers know where to find them. The Mexican cartels move a lot of them into our country, and traffickers have media hotlines to contract illegal business deals with the 5.3 billion people connected to the internet. Criminals can instantaneously connect to trafficking victims, and these organizations operate with impunity.”

The greatest explosion of child sex trafficking has happened in the past couple of years with so many children passing through the United States-Mexico border, said Yore.

“This is one of the consequences of modern-day paganism,” Yore said. “There is some positive news, though. Recently, the FBI raided a home that contained many women and children who were smuggled over the border through El Paso in an 18-wheeler. They were packed in tightly and very uncomfortable. When the FBI raided the home, the women and children didn’t know what was happening — they thought they were going to be killed, but they were rescued and are now safe.”

Another case in Florida resulted in the rescue of 200 victims, and many traffickers were arrested, including a teacher, illegal immigrants and three Disney employees. Yore explained that because of the cartels on the border, it is necessary for Americans to keep their eyes and ears open and to frequently check the missing and exploited children’s photos.

“It is also important to help these teens who have been on the street, by coming up with transitional housing so they have the support not to go back in the streets,” said Yore. “There is very little help for teens who want help.”

While trafficking all over the world is high, the trafficking in Wisconsin along the I-94 corridor is booming, she noted.

“The area between Chicago and Milwaukee is a trafficking route and Milwaukee is a trafficking training location with a high unemployment rate, gang and drug activity,” said Yore. “Wisconsin scores an F in criminal provision identifications and response.”

According to the FBI, a child goes missing every 40 seconds and in the United States, totaling 2,100 children per day, with about 97 percent eventually recovered. There is not enough law enforcement available to look for all of these children, so they need the public’s eyes and ears for help, Yore said.

“Walmart puts up pictures of missing children, and to date, there have been 14,798 children recovered because of their posters,” she said. “However, there are far more missing kids than listed.

There is a 24-hour hotline (1-800-THE-LOST) to call if you suspect a child is being trafficked or exploited.

For more information on Elizabeth Yore, visit www.yorechildren.com.

Elizabeth Yore