Experts say human traffickers look at runaway children as potential targets

Data pix.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indianapolis man has been arrested for the alleged human trafficking of a 16-year-old runaway girl.

The suspect, 19-year-old Ledarreus Dean, was taken into custody as a result of an undercover prostitution investigation conducted by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday.

Over the course of the investigation, IMPD officers say they observed Dean driving the teen to a meeting location in the 2900 block of N. Shadeland Ave. on the city’s northeast side.

Former FBI Agent Kathy Guider said it’s hard to get through to a young girl that she’s being manipulated.

"They fall in love and they think they found true love. What they found was somebody who was using them because of their vulnerabilities and using them in the sex trafficking style of life," VP of Veracity Kathy Guider said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that one in seven runaways are likely victims of human trafficking.

Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program Director Kenneth Allen said education is key to preventing human trafficking.

"Once you recognize the signs and you get rid of the stereotypes and it’s really not like the movie ‘Taken.’ Although that is a small percentage of how it happens, but the overwhelming percentage is a lot of times it’s folks that have a relationship with young people," Allen said.

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