One glaring misnomer when it comes to human trafficking is that victims are snatched out of malls or shopping center parking lots by cartel members in black vans with tinted windows who have targeted them based on age, gender or hair color.

Though this occassionally does happen, it’s not what law enforcement and prosecutors are seeing in Wyoming, according to Cara Chambers, director of the Division of Victim Services for the Wyoming Office of the Attorney General.

“It’s really high risk to snatch someone off the street,” Chambers said by phone Monday from her office in Cheyenne. “People don’t want to take that chance.”

In reality, human trafficking is much more insidious and personal in nature, she said, and in many cases, begins in one’s home and family. Sometimes it’s the child’s own mother selling her kids for money as in a recent case in Campbell County where a mother was charged with multiple felonies for promoting the prostitution of her two young daughters.

Other cases involve children being groomed and abused by a father, stepfather or boyfriend figure. Children in the foster care system are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, Chambers said.

Another fallacy is that human trafficking is a big city problem and one that doesn’t happen in Wyoming given its rural and outlying nature. Not so, Chamber said, noting that its remoteness is actually makes the state prime for such activity when it comes to both sex and labor trafficking.

“If it doesn’t start here,” she said, “it’s coming here, but it’s homegrown in Wyoming as well.”

Read the full story here: