Salt Lake City — (KUTV) Jerome Elam is an author, lecturer, and human trafficking survivor. When he was 5-years-old Elam's stepfather started molesting him. Before long his stepfather started using him for child pornography and then introduced him to his pedophile ring.
"The first time I was trafficked as a child, I was handcuffed to a truck stop bathroom for six hours, raped and sodomized and abused," said Elam.
Unfortunately, Elam's story is not new. This is a crime that happens in America every day.
"Americans are truly some of the biggest perpetrators and provide most of the demand for child sex trafficking that's going around," said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
Child sex trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. It surpasses gun running and counterfeiting, both of which are multi-billion dollar industries. It is second only to the drug trade.
"Even drug dealers have found that they can only sell a drug once; they can sell a human being multiple times, so we they're switching to human trafficking," said Elam.
He says the average age of a trafficked child is between 10 and 12-years-old. It's a crime that steals the innocence of children, leaving a shell behind, if not killing them.
"Only perhaps about 10 percent of those who are stuck in the life of being trafficked will ever get out alive," said Reyes.
Since taking office, Reyes has been public in his quest to fight human trafficking. Last October, Reyes joined Operation Underground Railroad on a sting in Colombia where they rescued 120 children from the sex trade.
"I wanted to, if you would look and face evil just up close and see what it looks like," said Reyes.
Reyes asked Elam to come to Utah to meet with him.
"It was critical for me. Meeting with people like Jerome, they're heroes to me. They inspire me and from a very practical standpoint they can help our office of the attorney general be a better servant to the people of the state of Utah," said Reyes.
Elam shared some of the tactics traffickers use and shed new light on the dark web, a series of non-index sites that can only be accessed through an encrypted browser. Eighty percent of the traffic here is pedophiles. This is all information the AG will use to fight traffickers.
"I will not stop fighting until that day that I know, that no child is ever harmed again," said Elam.
At 12-years-old Elam got a bottle of pills and a bottle of vodka and tried to kill himself. It was that desperate cry for help that saved him. Elam ended up in the hospital, his silence finally broken. He went into the foster-care system, leaving the trafficking life behind.
"I'll never know the experience of being a child laying in a field of grass looking up at the clouds imagining shapes, but I can fight so that every child has that right," said Elam.