Iowa Gov. Reynolds signs bill increasing penalties for human traffickers into law

(ABC 6 News) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds this week signed into law a bill that increases penalties for people found guilty of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a vile form of modern-day slavery and in Iowa, we won’t tolerate it,” said Gov. Reynolds. “The bill signed today increases penalties for both labor and sex trafficking, and criminals found guilty of trafficking children under 18 will serve up to life in prison.”

According to recent data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2021, approximately 22% of Iowa’s human trafficking victims were minors. The Hotline said it received 299 signals — phone calls, text messages, webchats, emails, or online tip reports — in 2021, making Iowa the 32nd highest signal volume of all 50 states and Washington D.C.

Traffickers come in all forms, but often rely on existing relationships with victims, according the Iowa Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, a division of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. In addition to abusing family relationships, traffickers use social media to lure in young people. 

Catching these criminals in the act isn’t always easy, especially with a busy summer approaching. In the last two years, the Iowa Office to Combat Human Trafficking has trained and certified nearly 600 lodging properties and more than 17,500 staff to identify and report human trafficking. In it’s 2022 report, from January through October 2022, the Office said it documented 50 human trafficking tips and leads and processed 435 requests for information regarding human trafficking investigative leads.

To report any signs of human trafficking, call the national hotline at 888-373-7888, or by texting HELP to 233733