CRIME

Human trafficking forum held in wake of McLean discovery

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In some ways, Donna Widawski sees herself as a one-woman army in the fight against human trafficking.

Widawski, a mother from Prince William County, was one of many who showed up Friday to a forum in McLean to collect information about the heinous crime and give it to anyone who will listen.

The forum was held in the aftermath of the discovery of two women at a McLean home who authorities believe were trafficked for sex. The house, located on Orris Street, is registered as owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"As a concerned parent (and) a former law enforcement officer who really cares about our community, I wanted to come and then spread the word," Widawski said.

Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf appeared at the forum as well, making mention that human trafficking is both a domestic and international issue.

"This is a problem not only in Thailand but in Tysons Corner," Wolf said. "Not only in Albania, but in Annandale."

Experts say that human trafficking can happen and is happening everywhere, and in many cases, in plain view. Big-name hotels, playgrounds and shopping malls are all places where trafficking is investigated and identified.

On many occasions, the crime starts on the Internet. Experts say traffickers, working in organized groups, will scour Facebook and other social mediums for vulnerable young women in need of love or attention.

"The means of power and control is to get these girls to fall in love with them, because once they fall in love, then they can get them to do whatever they want," said Det. Bill Woolf of the Fairfax County Police's gang investigations unit.

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