Authorities have broken up what's described as a major human trafficking sex-slave ring in Lakewood, but they say other types of similar rings could be operating all over the Garden State.

Flickr User Thomaswanhoff
Flickr User Thomaswanhoff

"Human trafficking takes place in the dark shadows of our society, and, unfortunately, in the dark shadows of New Jersey. We are determined to do all we can to bring this crime to light and the criminals to justice," says Acting State Attorney General John Hoffman.

He says many prostitute victims, who are coerced into coming to this country from Latin America, are promised jobs as baby sitters and house cleaners, but are then forced to work as sex slaves, and they remain silent.

"Frequently they're afraid to seek help," he says, "because of their immigration status or because of threats of violence or retaliation."

Hoffman adds this kind of crime is more prevalent in New Jersey than most people think, so it's important to contact authorities if you notice a house where lots of men keep showing up.

"People you've never seen before coming in much more frequently, and coming out, staying for as quick as 10 minutes, 15 minutes."

If you observe this kind of situation, he recommends you call the human trafficking hotline 1-877-986-7534.

"For too long human trafficking victims have suffered out of sight on the fringes of society," he says. "It is a nasty and terrible and heinous crime in which vulnerable victims are taken advantage of, and we are doing everything we can to stop it."

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