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MCSO Chaplain fighting human sex traffic - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

MCSO Chaplain fighting human sex trafficking in CA

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MISSOULA -

While many enjoy the festivities the Super Bowl has to offer law enforcement warns of a major issue that can come with the big game - human sex trafficking. 

A representative from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office is spending the week in San Francisco working with the FBI and local law enforcement to learn more about children being trafficked during the Super Bowl. 

The FBI reports that any event that attracts a lot of people can be a prime spot for increased human trafficking, and the Super Bowl is one example.

Newly appointed Sheriff's Office Chaplain Lowell Hochhalter is working with FREE International, a group who works to abolish sex and labor trafficking. FREE stands for Find, Restore, Embrace and Empower.

Hochhalter is working as the the Find director, and is spending his week on the streets of the Bay Area looking for potential victims of human slavery. He says what he's seen, has been shocking. 

"We were in a tough part of Oakland," Hochhalter said. "We're just walking the streets and this young lady started walking to me and man she looked familiar to me and she passed and we got back to our vehicle and I opened the book and sure enough her picture was in that book and I was like, we gotta get this car turned around let's go. And unfortunately we couldn't find her. So that was tough."

Although he's spending the week in California, Hochhalter reminds Montanans that these same problems exist at home. 

"We like to think in Montana that we're somehow exempt, but that is not the case. It's absolutely everywhere. We are corridor from the west coast over to the Bakken with our location to the Canadian border," Hochhalter said. "People that think this isn't taking place in Missoula and the surrounding towns, they just need to open their eyes."

During his trip, Hochhalter has also spoke at many school assemblies warning kids of these signs. He's  encouraging everyone to speak up if they see something suspicious.

"When you see something that just doesn't look right, more often than not, you're right on target. So say something to somebody. Don't just walk away and go 'wow that sure seemed weird'," Hochhalter said. 

Hochhalter is part of a 10 person team associated with FREE, and has been apart of the non-profit group for the last five years.

Click here to learn more about FREE International. 

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