Columbia man charged with multiple accounts of sex trafficking

The arrest came the same day the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition hosted a seminar.
Laura Davis / Graphic Designer

The Boone County Sheriff's Department arrested a 32-year-old Columbia resident on multiple charges of sex trafficking Tuesday.

The man charged, Kenyata Miles, was arrested for suspicion of promoting prostitution, trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and third-degree domestic assault. Miles has been convicted on felony charges before.

The arrest came after a two-week-long investigation by the the department's Cyber Crimes Task Force. The investigation began when the Boone County Juvenile Office contacted the Sheriff's Department about an online advertisement posted by a female juvenile, who failed to return to a juvenile group facility after a weekend furlough, according to a May 1 news release.

The advertisement appeared on an Internet classifieds site and seemed to be consistent with the advertising of prostitution, according to the news release.

Investigators determined the suspect was transporting women to and from motel rooms in Columbia and Missouri towns. Investigators also found that the suspect allegedly forced a woman to engage in prostitution by physical violence and threats of violence. In another incident, the suspect pointed a handgun at a woman to force her to continue with the prostitution, according to the press release.

This arrest came the same day the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition hosted an event to help hotel employees identify the signs of trafficking and what to do if they see suspicious activity. The mid-Missouri human trafficking seminar was the first of its kind and was hosted at the Columbia Hampton Inn & Suites.

Human trafficking is a problem that occurs in almost every state, said Nanette Ward, Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition co-chair.

"We know that it's definitely an issue for every state and town, no matter the size of town," Ward said.

Hotels and motels are common venues for trafficking and can happen to many different kinds of people, Ward said.

"It crosses over so many groups, and it can take so many forms," Ward said. "It can be a mafia-type person … to even a young person going door-to-door."

However, runaway and homeless youths tend to be especially vulnerable to trafficking, Ward said.

"It's true that, as a country, we have a high number of young people that run away from home and they are vulnerable to trafficking," Ward said. "Traffickers prey on them and learn to manipulate them."

The average age of entry in prostitution in the U.S. is 12 to 14 years old, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The coalition has a hotline, 888-3737-888, and an email, help@stophumantraffickingmo.com, where victims or community can report trafficking.

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