The Stand Against Trafficking Coalition exists to educate and inform the community on human trafficking and how to prevent it.
You can follow along with the latest projects, news, and upcoming
events to stay involved with helping victims and survivors of
human trafficking in the Ozarks area.
Statement from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt
"As Missouri's Attorney General, the greatest responsibility I have is to protect Missourians and their families. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. We must demand an end to trafficking happening here in Missouri to children as well as adults. The Missouri Attorney General's Office is on the forefront of combating this exploitation. By working with law enforcement partners and advocates from across the state, we will end this practice and ensure no one's life is for sale."
Stand Against Trafficking on episode of
Sense of Community on Ozarks Public Television
September 21, 2023
"According to the U.S. State Department,
an estimated 27.6 million people are currently victims of trafficking worldwide, and many of them are often hidden right in front of us. A Springfield-based organization,
Stand Against Trafficking is working to combat human trafficking in the Ozarks. Today on Sense of Community, we are joined by licensed professional counselor Jenifer Sturdivan."
Wisconsin Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking a Child
June 27, 2023
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Milwaukee, Wisconsin man was sentenced in federal court today for the sex trafficking of a child.
Gerald H. Paul-Gibson, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Paul-Gibson to 10 years of supervised release following incarceration.
On March 9, 2022, Paul-Gibson pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of
a child. Paul-Gibson admitted that he recruited, transported, and advertised a 15-year-old victim for prostitution, and either knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that the child victim was under the
age of 18.
Homeland Security and federal partners issue national public safety alert on sextortion schemes
More than 3,000 minor victims targeted
last year across US
December 19, 2022
WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in partnership with the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), issued a national public safety alert today highlighting an incremental rise in incidents of children and teens being coerced into sending explicit images online and extorted for money – a crime known as financial sextortion.
Over the past year, law enforcement received more than 7,000 reports related to the online financial sextortion of minors, resulting in at least 3,000 victims, primarily boys, including more than a dozen suicides.
Financial sextortion schemes occur in online environments where young people feel most comfortable – using common social media sites, gaming sites, or video chat applications that feel familiar and safe. On these platforms, online predators often use fake female accounts and target minor males, between the ages of 14 and 17, but law enforcement has seen victims as young as 10.
Missouri Bill Discusses Human Trafficking Training
For Hospital Officials
December 12, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A bill that will go to lawmakers in January will discuss training to detect human trafficking for hospital staff.
”We have an opportunity as healthcare providers to identify those victims, and help them get the resources that they need, and also begin that healing process, if that’s where they’re at in that journey. So I think it’s really important that we get that information out there. I’m definitely an advocate for that,” said Elyse Nimmo with Mercy Hospital.
KC Man Sentenced to 18 Years for
Sex Trafficking Four Victims
November 1, 2022
A Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a
sex trafficking conspiracy that involved four victims, including two teenagers.
Cory Lavell Smith, also known as “Fatz,” 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to 18 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Smith to 20 years of supervised release following incarceration.
On March 15, 2022, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage
in sex trafficking and one count of sex trafficking.
Smith admitted that he participated in a sex-trafficking conspiracy from Aug. 1, 2018, to Jan. 9, 2019, that caused four victims to engage in prostitution. One of the victims was 14 years old, and another victim was 16 years old.
Springfield Organizations Warn Students Human Trafficking Can Start Online in Their Own Homes
September 22, 2022
Russ Tuttle, founder and president of The Stop Trafficking Project, partnered with the Stand Against Trafficking Coalition to visit all of Springfield’s Catholic schools this week to educate students and their parents about the dangers of what can happen to youngsters online. The presentations have already been made to many other schools around the state and are different and age-appropriate for the various grades (K-12).
“Out of the 70,000 students we have made presentations to, about one-third of the students told us in a survey that they have met in-person a stranger that they first met online or are actively sharing nudes of themselves through social media,” Tuttle said. “Those are two of the common denominators that we want to end before they start. And what’s amazing is when we do these school assemblies, kids say, ‘Thank you for coming today and telling us the truth.’”
Springfield Man and Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking a Child
September 7, 2022
Joseph W. Gibson, 43, and Danna Marie Rodriguez, 37, were sentenced in separate appearances in U.S. District Court, in Springfield, Missouri. Both had previously pleaded guilty to one count of the sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of the sex trafficking of a minor. Gibson and Rodriguez admitted they sex trafficked a 15-year-old female, identified in court documents as “Jane Doe 1.” They also asked the child victim to recruit some of her friends to participate, but her friends refused to be involved.
Gibson was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without parole, followed by 25 years of supervised release. Rodriguez was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison without parole, followed by 25 years of supervised release.
FBI Announces Results of Nationwide
Sex Trafficking Operation
August 15, 2022
Operation Cross Country XII Leads to Identification/Location of Adolescent Victims
>> 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses
>> 37 missing children
>> 141 adult victims of human trafficking
>> Identification or arrest of 85 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses
“The success of Operation Cross County reinforces what NCMEC sees every day. Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs and even family members. “We’re proud to support the FBI’s efforts to prioritize the safety of children. This national operation highlights the need for all child serving professionals to continue to focus on the wellbeing of children and youth to prevent them being targeted in the first place.”
--- Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Cassville High School Teacher Sentenced to
30 Years for Sextortion Scheme
August 2, 2022
A southern Missouri high school teacher was sentenced in federal court today for a sextortion scheme in which 11 identified child victims, and dozens more child victims who have not been identified, were coerced to send him pornographic images and videos.
“This defendant, a high school teacher, pretended to be a teenager online in order to prey upon young victims across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore. “He victimized 11 children who have been identified, and many more who have not yet been identified, in a horrific sexploitation scheme. He enticed countless child victims to send him explicit images of themselves, then threatened to share those images with their families and friends over social media unless they continued to send him even more explicit images and videos. Such appalling criminal behavior warrants the severe penalty he received today.”
US Marshals Service Fall Operation Boo Dat 2021 Recovers Five Missing/Endangered Teens and
Makes Thirty Arrests
December 24, 2021
From mid-October to December 24, 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service New Orleans Task Force and their local, state, and federal law enforcement partners recovered five missing/endangered teens in New Orleans, Louisiana. Among those teens recovered was a 14-year-old female with possible sex trafficking ties who was recovered at a motel and a 15-year-old female runaway with prior human trafficking issues whose pimp had recently been murdered. A 17-year-old female was arrested on a felony warrant for human trafficking. She is known to have prior ties to several runaways
from New Orleans as well as ties to organized gang activities. Law enforcement
also arrested 30 individuals with 17 of those arrests being for felony sexual offender registration violations.
Fayetteville Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking Teens Online
December 23, 2021
A Fayetteville man received a 40-year prison sentence for the sex trafficking of minors in both Washington County, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri. Lexus DeShawn Hobbs, 23, was convicted on three counts where he "did knowingly recruit, entice, solicit, isolate, harbor, transport, provide, maintain, or obtain a minor for commercial sexual activity" for money. Hobbs trafficked a 16-year-old and two 17-year-old girls.
"What does human trafficking look like in rural Missouri?"
on Fox 2 Now
October 20, 2021
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – An undercover human trafficking operation has led to two victims being rescued and a Missouri man being arrested. The Platte County prosecutor reports 29-year-old Sean D. Green faces up to
20 years in prison if convicted. Investigators say the break-in this case happened during an undercover operation at the Argosy Casino on
Aug. 26 in the Kansas City area.
The sting operation was part of “Operation United Front,” which was organized by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Highway Patrol. Operation United Front was conducted in late August. On August 27th, Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced over 100 arrests and 47 victims had been rescued across 12 states.
In Springfield, a local human trafficking advocate says the details of those cases are similar to stories she hears from victims every day in the Ozarks.
“Anything that a person is vulnerable for and they need can be exchanged for some kind of sexual exploitation,” says Jenifer Sturdivan with STAND Against Trafficking.
Walk For Freedom
October 17, 2020
Dawn Day with Stand Against Trafficking was one of the organizers of Saturday’s event, which passed out free masks with red X’s on them.
“Their voices are taken away,” Dawn says. “Their freedoms are taken away and they’re silenced. The mask, the X’s on our face, is reminding us that these victims are silent. We take a moment of silence for them and it’s here to remember that we want to make it where they’re unsilenced and we want to make it where they are free.”
Joplin Man Sentenced to Life in Prison
August 24, 2020
A Joplin, Missouri, man has been sentenced in federal court for the sexual exploitation of a 4-year-old child victim. Anthony Leon Helsel, 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Tuesday, Aug. 25, to life in federal prison without parole. On Sept. 24, 2019, Helsel pleaded guilty to one count of the sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of the sex trafficking of a minor.
The investigation began in September 2018 when law enforcement received two CyberTips that Helsel was offering a 4-year-old child for sex through the KIK application, and that Helsel had uploaded suspected child pornography to his Facebook account. In October 2018, Kentucky law enforcement provided information that Helsel also offered images of child pornography to an undercover law enforcement officer in Kentucky, as well as to other members of a KIK group.
Experts Explain How To Report Suspected Trafficking In Missouri
August 24, 2020
Alison Phillips is the Director of the Human Trafficking Task Force through the Missouri Attorney General’s office. “Of course every trafficking story is complex,
it’s as complex as you can get,” Phillips said.
Phillips said what should not be complex, is how to report suspected human trafficking. Before now, someone who thought they might be witnessing someone held against their will could either call a Missouri-specific tip line or the national hotline. “Using the same philosophy as 9-1-1, if there’s an emergency, we don’t want there to be any confusion as to what number to call,” Phillips said. Now all calls will be transferred to the National Human Trafficking Hotline based in Washington D.C. That number is 1 (888) 373-7888.