America's Most Wanted Leads to Key Arrests: Human Trafficking
John Walsh has brought the 25th season of America's Most Wanted to Lifetime! Don't miss the show, Fridays at 9pm/8c
Arrested less than one week after being profiled on Lifetime’s America’s Most Wanted sex trafficking special that aired on Friday, February 24th, New Mexico fugitives Rufus Byers and Elizabeth Kay Gade, both wanted in connection with two separate Human Trafficking and Prostitution cases, became the series’ tenth and eleventh direct captures since the show launched on Lifetime. In total, America’s Most Wanted has led to the capture of 1,177 people in the series’ history.
Byers, wanted for Human Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution and Accepting Earnings of a Prostitute, has reportedly coerced and exploited women into the commercial sex industry to work as prostitutes. Last December in Albuquerque, after a woman he allegedly forced into prostitution was caught in an undercover sting targeting online commercial sex sites, police determined she was a victim of human trafficking – leading to Byers’ arrest. However, soon after posting bail, he fled Albuquerque and had been on the run until America’s Most Wanted was provided with information placing him in Texas. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested on Wednesday, February 29th, at an Addison, Texas, motel and is currently in custody.
Police say Gade, who was wanted for Kidnapping Accessory, Promoting Prostitution and Human Trafficking Accessory, assisted a man in prostituting a troubled 18-year-old girl he allegedly met online in 2010 and convinced to move to Albuquerque, where the teenager was held against her will in a tightly secured house. Able to escape the house one afternoon, the girl contacted the Albuquerque Police Department, leading to the arrest of the man but Gade was able to elude the authorities...until last week. On Friday, March 2, Gade was arrested in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after an America’s Most Wanted tipster recognized the fugitive and contacted the program and Cheyenne police.
Hosted by John Walsh, the America’s Most Wanted sex trafficking special focused on one of the most illicit and overlooked crimes known to affect millions of women and children in the U.S. and across the globe. While commonly thought of as a problem limited to countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, human trafficking is also a major problem in America, where incidences of sex and labor trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, according to The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline operated by Polaris Project. In addition to Byers, the special profiled numerous individuals alleged to be responsible for some of the world’s most shocking cases involving the sex trafficking of people, including many foreign victims who are lured into moving to the U.S. under false pretenses and then forced into brutal, horrifying lives of prostitution from which they have little chance of escape.
The statistics regarding trafficking are staggering, beginning with the United Nations’ estimate of more than 12 million people worldwide who are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor and the International Labor Organization’s report that human trafficking for the purposes of sexual and/or economic exploitation is a $20 billion business. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 100,000 minors are estimated to be in the commercial sex trade in the U.S. To report a tip or connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888.