The human trafficking and child exploitation investigation was conducted by the Bozeman Police Department from July 20-22, resulting in the arrests of 18 people, according to a news release from the department’s Facebook page.
“These individuals have been charged with 18 counts of patronizing a prostitute, five counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of patronizing a victim of sex trafficking for a child victim,” the release stated.
The investigation was assisted by five different investigation departments: the Bozeman Police Department and Montana State University Special Victims Unit, Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the Montana Analysis and Technical Information Center.
The investigation is ongoing and the Bozeman Police Department hopes the investigation will educate the community.
“We want to use this opportunity to educate the public and reach out to those in need of assistance,” Bozeman Police Detective Captain Dana McNeil stated in the release.
“If someone is controlling or managing you, abusing you, withholding basic necessities from you in order to control you and your finances, providing you with illegal drugs, or if you feel scared, unsafe, and unable to leave the situation, seek help,” it continued.
Residents in need can reach out to the Gallatin County Victim Services office at 406-582-2075, call the Montana Human Trafficking Hotline at 833-406 STOP (7867) or call the national human trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888. Residents can also reach out to HAVEN at 406-586-4111 or other local shelters which provide services and resources to people ready to leave.