About This Project

In the summer of 2014, Forum News Service set out to shed light on what we saw as a growing problem in North Dakota: human trafficking. It wasn’t until we began reporting that we realized truly what a serious issue our state had on its hands. Not only because of the depravity of the crimes taking place in our own communities, but also because of the difficulties in detecting trafficking victims and given the unique nature of the Oil Patch, where the high ratio of men to women has created an issue of supply and demand.

We immediately got to work.

We set two newspaper reporters and one TV reporter loose for six months to investigate the issues surrounding trafficking. We conducted more than 100 interviews and reviewed even more documents in an effort to understand the problems facing the Bakken region and beyond. We traveled from Williston to Minneapolis to Washington, D.C. in pursuit of the story. And while our reporting found the state beginning to take a closer, more serious look at trafficking, we also found there is much work to do in order to handle the emerging crisis.

The Story

Forum News Service takes on the issue of human trafficking and female exploitation in this seven-part in-depth reporting series. We explore the emerging crisis as it unfolds in the Oil Patch of western ND, as well as in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Preface: Who’s Who

Day 1: It Happens Here

Day 2: The Game

Day 3: Red Flags

Day 4: Prosecuting Prostitution

Day 5: Connect In A Click

Day 6: Squaring Up A Challenge

Day 7: What’s Next


Supporting Partners

These businesses and organizations have taken a stand against human trafficking in our region and in our communities. They stand together in an effort to help end trafficking and violence against women.

Thank you to all of our supporting partners.