Clayton Louis Lakey scrolls, and girls beckon. Rather, their sellers do. Like carnival barkers in an Internet sideshow, they tout their product: young women who will provide companionship. For a price.
"I have girls that are waiting for you to do with as you please," one online ad promises.
Lakey, 34, scrolls through the lurid postings, scores of them offering a break from the tedium and loneliness of his solitary job packing dirt in the Bakken oilfields.
Another ad grabs his attention. “Hot young girls!” it says. “They are experienced and ready to go if you are.”
Lakey is ready. With a few clicks, he says he wants a girl. A young girl.
From a distant site, supply negotiates with demand.
Over the past six months, Forum News Service has investigated an emerging issue in the Bakken oilfield region of western North Dakota: sex trafficking, including the trafficking of children.
We reviewed hundreds of documents and conducted more than 100 interviews with law enforcement officers, victim service providers, victims rescued from the sex trade and experts who have examined the issue regionally, nationally and internationally.
Our reporting took us from the Dakotas to Washington, D.C., from predators in courtrooms and prostitutes in police cars to top law enforcement agents, high elected officials and victim advocates who once were caught up in "the life" themselves. Our weeklong series begins today.