Sex-trafficked Children Are Crime Victims. But in Las Vegas, They Get Arrested.

LAS VEGAS — Before he stopped his car, the man wanted a better look at the young women on the sidewalk.

It was just before 11 on a sweltering summer night, when he knew he could find what he was looking for a few blocks from the Las Vegas Strip. He slowed in front of a Motel 6 and peered at the three thin, barely covered bodies. Teenagers. He was sure of it.

The man rolled down his passenger-side window, as he had so many times before.

“No hablo Inglés,” he said, as a girl in a tight, pink dress stepped forward.

She was petite and Black, with brown eyes magnified by extra-long fake eyelashes. She didn’t seem as young as the Hispanic-looking girl behind her, but the man wasn’t going to be picky.

He motioned for what he wanted and promised he wasn’t a cop. The girl opened his car door, telling him it would be $80.

“Ochenta? Si,” he agreed. He pulled away from the curb. In Spanish, he told her how pretty she was. He didn’t say where he was taking her.

She tried to use an app on her phone to translate, but a minute later the man steered into the lot of another motel.

He parked. The girl turned toward him. Then, she whipped her head around. Someone was outside the open car window, waving something in her face.

“Police,” the stranger announced, showing her a badge.

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