Missoula Crime Report: Human Trafficking is ‘Modern-Day Slavery’
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 16 new criminal complaints this week, which is six less than last week and right around the weekly average. According to County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, her office is also getting ready for a homicide trial that is set to start on Monday.
“Staryal Johnston is charged with strangling his wife to death and also having sexual contact with a minor,” Pabst said. “Two of our top litigators are handling that, Andrea Haney and Ryan Mickelson. It's one of those all-hands-on-deck situations.”
When it comes to cases this week, Pabst said her office charged one fugitive from justice from North Dakota and three drug cases.
“In the property category, we charged four new cases, aggravated burglary, theft, trespass, and then arson,” Pabst said. “That also involved two counts of an assault on a peace officer. In the endangerment category, we charge one new felony DUI and then seven in the violent or crimes against persons.”
Pabst said one of those violent cases was an attempted burglary and intimidation.
“The allegation is that the defendant scaled a fence and demanded that the resident give her a child and then threatened the victim as well,” Pabst said. “We charged assault with a weapon that was a stabbing that occurred at the Poverello Center as well as a robbery that involved the taking of a bicycle from a person who had been riding it. Additionally, we charged two human trafficking cases.”
Pabst said it might be hard to believe that human trafficking takes place in Missoula, but she said it most certainly does.
“Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit,” Pabst said. “It's what we call modern-day slavery. Traffickers trick, defraud, or physically force victims into selling sex and are working under inhumane and illegal conditions. It's a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to almost 25 million people around the world.”
Pabst said her office and local law enforcement are working together to identify such operations in our community, hold offenders accountable, and rescue victims. If anyone has any information regarding this case or any other type of similar conduct here in Missoula, they are encouraged to contact law enforcement.