A St. Louis Congressman says Missouri ranks 17th in the nation in reported human trafficking cases.

Congressman Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis)

U.S. Rep. William “Lacy” Clay (D-St. Louis) is a co-sponsor of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-Harrisonville) bipartisan bill aimed at fighting sex trafficking.

Clay spoke about Hartzler’s bill on the House floor this month.

“This bipartisan act aims to provide local law enforcement with additional tools to fight the heinous epidemic of sex trafficking by expanding the authority of the vital Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Act,” Clay says.

The House approved Hartzler’s bill on voice vote. Clay urged his colleagues to vote for it.

“And sadly, because of my district’s central location and easy access to cross-country interstates and modes of transportation, the St. Louis area is one of the top 20 markets for this horrific and inhuman crime,” says Clay.

Clay represents St. Louis City and a large portion of St. Louis County in Congress.

Clay says most of the victims are minor children, and that some of them have been kidnapped and beaten by organized criminal enterprises.

Hartzler’s bill addresses what she calls “the epidemic of sex trafficking” by giving law enforcement funding resources to arrest those who purchase sexual acts from abused women and children.

Just last week, Missouri state troopers and Springfield Police raided several Springfield massage parlors allegedly connected to human trafficking.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R)

The raids were announced by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R).

 “To businesses anywhere that engage in trafficking, let the events today serve as a warning for what’s to come,” Hawley says.

In April, Hawley announced the creation of an Anti-Trafficking Unit in the Attorney General’s office.

Hawley notes Missouri is the first state in the nation to use consumer protection laws to combat human trafficking.