"A lot of people don't realize how much human trafficking goes on here locally."
LANE COUNTY, Ore. - Three sex traffickers were sentenced for promoting prostitution in Lane County, and police say that this issue is growing big in the surrounding area.
Sgt. Scott Vinje, with the Eugene Police Department says that his area of work is hidden in plain sight; sex trafficking in Lane County.
"A lot of people don't realize how much human trafficking goes on here locally," said Vinje.
He says that at any given time, anywhere from 20-80 victims are being trafficked in Lane County. Most recently, Sgt. Vinje helped put three trafficking offenders behind bars, all of whom have been sentenced for promoting prostitution in Lane County, involving several female victims.
Katherine Green prosecuted two of those cases, which she says are on the rise.
"There's also an increase in enforcement," said Green, who is a Prosecutor for Lane County. "So the cases are being more frequently investigated and charged, which is a good thing."
There's also been an increased awareness through groups like Lane County Against Trafficking.
"Eugene is not immune," said Green. "Being on the I-5 corridor really does have an impact in our violent crime, and this is certainly here, and we're seeing more of it."
Sgt. Vinje says that one of the biggest misconceptions about sex trafficking is that women want to be with their pimps, but that's not often the case.
"They feel trapped there," said Vinje. "They don't have anywhere to go, and the people that are preying on them keep them feeling like that."
Sgt. Vinje advises for victims to come talk to them, and that they will be treated like victims, not criminals, if they do.