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Human Trafficking On The Rise Across North Texas

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Police say a crime that targets young girls in North Texas is increasing -- human trafficking.

Detective Manny Reyes, a member of the Fort Worth Police Department and the North Texas Trafficking Task Force, said the number of young girls being victimized is on the rise.

"We're seeing more [human trafficking] recently. We've made more arrests recently… in the last month or so that before."

On Thursday, Nathan Tartarko was arrested for human trafficking and sexual assault of a child. Police say the former Army soldier picked up his 14-year-old victim as she was walking home from Ridgmar Mall in Fort Worth.

"First she said no, she wasn't sure about that. He was persistent so she said, 'Okay, you can give me a ride,'" Reyes explained.

Tatarko says the girl willingly went with him to an adult male friend's home, where they gave her alcohol.

Police say both men had sex with the girl and taught the teen how to smoke meth.

Tatarko told the girl not to tell anyone what the three had been doing and if anyone asked, she was to say that she was 19 years old.

Tatarko took the girl to at least two game rooms and had her ask patrons if they wanted her to dance for money, which she did, according to police.

Police say the suspect also took the victim to a Fort Worth Wal-Mart parking lot to solicit men.

Officers stopped Tatarko because his back windshield was broken out, which looked suspicious to police.

When authorities questioned the girl they found holes in her story and decided to take her to headquarters for further investigation.

After speaking with officers the girl finally told them her real name and gave details about exactly what had happened to her.

Officials say it's a common story. Many times, suspects target girls who post comments about a negative home life on social media sites and chat rooms. Suspects then lure the teens by offering friendship, fun and a life away from home.

Using those same tactics, a couple lured another 14-year-old victim from North Texas.

William Jacobs and Shayla Williams were arrested on September 11, 2012. Police say they trafficked their victim in eight different states, during a three-week period.

Mosaic Family Services in Dallas serves victims of human trafficking and their families. Bill Bernstein is the Deputy Director of the organization and said he thinks there are many cases that go unreported.

"People don't call out for help and self-identify as someone who is being trafficked, and that's really the main obstacle for these cases being uncovered," he said.

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