PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland has become one of the largest hubs for child sex trafficking, and notorious 82nd Avenue is at the core of the business, according to a story aired Wednesday night on ABC’s “Nightline” news magazine program.
On the show, Nightline reports that Northeast and Southeast 82nd Avenue is so well known in the sex trade that it has its own nickname- “the track.” Nightline also said Portland has the nickname "Pornland" due to the high number of strip joints and massage parlours in the city.
Investigators with Nightline said many of the teen girls working the street came from good homes, got into bad situations and now feel they cannot escape. The girls are often brought to Portland from out of the area.
One 13-year old, who called herself Katy, said that girls get roped into the sex trade through pimps who come onto them as boyfriends, start buying them nice gifts and then typically intimidate them to work as strippers and eventually as prostitutes.
Sgt. Mike Geiger with the Portland Police say the men typically meet the girls in parks, malls or other gathering spots for youth and gather information about the girls to find an area to exploit, such as family trouble, finances, or drugs.
They then work to fill those needs and push the girls into the sex trade. Local police told Nightline they have seen girls as young as 12 years old on the street working as prostitutes.
Known broadly as one of the most liveable cities in America, Portland also has the largest legal sex industry per capita in the nation, incuding even Las Vegas, according to a victims’ advocacy group that worked with Nightline.
She says the industry, both legal and otherwise, is built on the exploitation of innocent people. She said some of the underage girls she has seen are gang raped and even branded by pimps.
Portland is widely known for its myriad strip clubs and there are numerous clubs located along 82nd Avenue.
The advocacy group said more shelters for at-risk youth would help solve the problem since most offenders go to juvenile detention and are soon back out on the streets with no support network.