I’ve been a little surprised not to see more sting operations like the one in Sturgis, frankly. But Samantha Healy Vardaman and Christine Raino of the anti-trafficking advocacy group Shared Hope International, noted that some legislators worry that a differing ruling in another circuit court could confuse matters, leaving johns considered traffickers in one state, but not another. We are glad to see pending legislation in Congress, the End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013, which aims to clarify the federal law governing trafficking, to broaden the definition of traffickers to include those who “purchase and solicit” sex acts with minors.
But even when prosecutors are armed with the sturdiest laws, they need the resources to enforce them. Ms. Vardaman and Ms. Raino estimate that far too often, U.S. Attorney’s Offices are declining to prosecute cases charging commercial sexual exploitation of children, because of a lack of resources, and because of the need for training and coordination with local law enforcement in investigations.