RICHMOND, Va. - Human trafficking is a growing problem in Virginia, according to Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Hudson.
"It's more than an emerging trend, it's actively happening," she said.
Nearly 100 police officers, sheriff's deputies and prosecutors from as far away as Washington D.C. and Maryland are taking part in a week-long conference in Richmond to combat the issue.
"We certainly want the law enforcement officials, who are our front-line defense against crime in all respects to be as educated about it as possible," Hudson said. "To know it when they see it and to realize the very grave consequences of it."
Conference coordinator and Assistant Attorney General Erin Kulpa said fighting this crime requires a community effort.
"We [Virginia] rank sixth in the country in terms of the number of calls that come in and that definitely outpaces the demographic of the state," Kulpa said. "We certainly aren't sixth in terms of population."
Predators prey on the vulnerable, according to Kulpa.
"There's no ethnic background, there's no demographic," Kulpa said. "We have victims all across the spectrum."
There is a plan in place to identify, investigate and hold accountable those involved in what's referred to as "modern day slavery."
"It won't be tolerated," Hudson said. "We will prosecute it vigorously and put the criminals responsible for it in jail."
Tuesday's conference was one of nearly 50 held over the past two and a half years. Organizers said it was part of the ongoing effort to end what has become one of the fastest growing crimes.