By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming saw zero new criminal human trafficking cases filed in federal courts last year, according to a recent report.
The Human Trafficking Institute released its latest state analyses this week, and Wyoming had almost nothing in its report.
Lori Hogan, spokeswoman with the Wyoming U.S. attorney’s office, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that part of the reason there were no cases filed last year was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The institute defines human trafficking as “the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to compel someone to work or engage in commercial sex.” Girls and women are the most likely to be victims of human trafficking.
Zero human trafficking defendants were convicted. There were also no active defendants, so 0% of active defendants were charged with sex trafficking or forced labor.
Since no defendants were convicted federally, none were ordered to pay restitution, and the institute noted that Wyoming’s federal courts have never ordered a convicted Wyoming human trafficking defendant to pay restitution.
2015 was the only year in which a Wyoming trafficking defendant was convicted, the report showed.
According to the institute, in 2020, federal courts in 52 states and U.S. territories handled 579 active human trafficking prosecutions, 94% of which were sex trafficking cases and 6% of which were forced labor cases.
More than 3,100 defendants across the country have been convicted in human trafficking cases since 2000.
Wyoming was the last state to make human trafficking a felony, which it did in 2013.
Earlier this year, a former Wyoming legislator was arrested in a human trafficking-focused operation. Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers also helped apprehend a man involved in trafficking in August last year.