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One local detective and one survivor give insight into human trafficking in Idaho

Posted at 6:18 PM, Sep 30, 2023

NAMPA, Idaho — Human Trafficking is a global issue and can happen anywhere, even in your backyard. Here in Idaho, law enforcement is doing its best to stop this rising issue.

"The concern that I have, from the law enforcement side, is that this crime has been occurring. It's just a crime that occurs along with other crimes. And in years passed, it has just not been recognized for what it was. It's been either mislabeled or called something else,” says Detective Chad Benson.

Detective Benson has been in law enforcement for 15 years and saw his first human trafficking case in 2014.

He said that a recent case involved a house here in Nampa that has a history with law enforcement.

Benson says, “There are other issues, like the fights, stolen property, all those things that occur with it [the house]. So as we try to handle those, it takes somebody, at some point, to realize that all of those are feeding into a bigger issue. The bigger issue was what we found out through a domestic violence call.”

After that call and conducting several interviews, police returned to the home.

“That's when we realized there had been a lot of responses to that house for a lot of different things. It was from that particular domestic and an interview with her, and then some subsequent interviews with a couple of other females at that house, that we realized that sex trafficking was occurring at that house,” Benson continues.

Benson says around 15 victims were being trafficked out of that house in Nampa. Linsay Watson is a human trafficking survivor who was being trafficked in that same house.

“I just met the wrong people, and I became homeless because I got pregnant and I had nowhere else to go. So I contacted one of the bad people I had met and they took me to a trap house,” says Watson.

From there the next two weeks were unimaginable for Watson, but her saving grace was going into labor.

She says, “I ended up giving birth to my baby girl and the traffickers cut it {the umbilical cord] with a rusty night and tied it with string. My placenta wouldn't come out, so I was bleeding to death, and I asked them if I could go to the hospital. To my surprise, they took me.”

That trip to the hospital saved Watson and her child's life.

However, her baby was taken from her due to drugs found in the infant's system. However, with help and support from NPD and the local anti-trafficking non-profit Idaho COBS (Community Outreach Behavioral Services), she was able to be reunited with her baby girl.

“I got lots of help in the safe house. Like I said, I got food, shelter, and trauma therapy, and tons of support and love. And that's really what I needed so much, was support and love," said Watson.

If you or think someone you know is experiencing trafficking there are resources available to help. You can call 911, or call (888) 373-7888, or text: info to 233-733, it's the national human trafficking hotline available 24/7.