TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State University is known to be one of the best party schools and the university's police department says sex traffickers may be targeting those venues -- luring young, vulnerable, impaired victims and forcing them into prostitution.
"Definitely makes me more nervous to go with people you don't know for sure, especially at ASU.. you don't know really who's hosting the party.. you go with friends who've heard of them, so that's a pretty scary thing," said Ravyn Ogden, an ASU sophomore.
ASU police sent a warning to students, saying there's a chance that sex traffickers may be targeting college parties or events.
Experts say traffickers may lure students who are already are drunk or high away from the party scene, promising free drugs, alcohol or other incentives to get the victim alone.
"Just don't trust anybody. Traffickers can promise you things.. tomorrow, you'll end up finding yourself in a hotel room, unable to escape," said Bandak Lul from ASU's Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research.
Some students say the alcohol and drugs are readily available at some house parties.
"Yeah, it's usually just on a table in the back.. there's no one really going up to you saying to take it, but it's in the back. You can go and get it if you want," said Ogden.
According to the ASU police safety bulletin, the traffickers will target inebriated victims. Their M-O: taking illicit photos or videos of victims who have no control, then threatening to expose the photos and videos on social media or to family and friends if the victim does not submit to prostitution. The frightening scenario has never crossed the minds of a lot of students.
"That's definitely something that's really scary, especially since ASU, being a big place to go out and hang out and think you'll be around people you'll be safe around," said ASU freshman Brianna Ungaro.
Police are passing along these safety tips:
- Don't leave a party alone with someone you just met
- Look out for your friends and stick together
- Trust your own instincts. If something feels wrong, avoid bad situations
Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research