SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sturgis Motorcycle rally officially begins on August 4th. Since 2020, authorities arrested 23 people on charges of human trafficking during the Rally. The majority of the victims are underage girls. In 2021 eight of the nine men arrested also faced attempted enticement of a child charges. Attorney General Marty Jackley says law enforcement has a plan for the rally, but he doesn’t want to get too specific.
“The important part of these operations is we want people to know you are welcome here in South Dakota, but if you are here to hurt children, you can expect law enforcement to be at the other end of that email or located in the hotel where you are coming to meet somebody,” said Jackley.
Lisa Heth is the Executive director of the Pathfinder Center. A long-term secure shelter in central South Dakota.
“We are one of a kind because we specifically provide culturally sensitive services to Native Americans. Although our doors are open to anybody, we don’t discriminate, and they can stay up to 24 months,” said Heth.
We won’t reveal the location of Pathfinder Center, but the fact that such a shelter exists shows the need in South Dakota. Heth says several groups will be handing out information about trafficking at the rally and putting up signs in hotels and campgrounds.
“So that if anyone is being trafficked, there’s a local number that you can call, not the national human trafficking hotline because for some survivors that just wasn’t enough for them. Survivors need something local right away that they can get to,” said Heth.
Heth says educating people about sex trafficking is key to stopping it, and Jackley agrees.
“We want everyone to have a safe rally, but again we’ve experienced some challenges in the past, some concerns. We want to do everything we can in South Dakota to protect children,” said Jackley.
Heth says besides the Sturgis Rally, South Dakota’s pheasant hunting season also causes a spike in sex trafficking in South Dakota.