Hotel photos will help track sex traffickers

ST. LOUIS - Hotel room pictures could become a new took in the fight against sex trafficking in St. Louis and across the country.

Social justice agency Exchange Initiative in St. Louis is trying to start the database for advocates, parents and law enforcement. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children asked the Exchange Imitative to help get it off the ground.

"There are absolutely kids being sold in St. Louis. Hotels are an easy way for traffickers to sell the girls," said Kim Ritter, co-founder of the Exchange Initiative. She said children and women are sold every day in five star hotels to motels where you pay for the room by the hour.

"When you go to a website that sells people for sex, a lot of times they are photographed in a hotel room or motel room," said Ritter.

Ritter and her business partner, Molly Hackett, said the photo gallery of hotel rooms, real time from travelers. Investigators and advocates know the specific brands hotels use. Most hotels, with multiple properties, buy pictures, bedding, furniture and other room items in bulk. Ritter said investigators can analyze the real time pictures with the information they have and find a sex trafficking victim.

"It could save days, it could save hours it could save minutes that are critical," said Ritter.

The Exchange Initiative needs $200,000 to get the database and the staff to keep it going. The agency will get grants but they need corporations and other businesses to donate to get the site on the web.


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