TOWN OF YORKVILLE (WITI) -- Two young girls, ages 13 and 16 have been recovered by members of the Racine County Sheriff's Office's Internet Crimes Against Children unit, and the Racine County Human Trafficking Task Force. Law enforcement officials say they hope this case is the start of the end of a very big problem.
Sheriff's investigators and members of the Human Trafficking Task Force conducted an extensive investigation over several weeks that ultimately led to the recovery of the girls. They were recovered on Tuesday, March 3rd.
"Sad to say the youngest that I have seen thus far. It's very unfortunate and very sad," Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said.
The 13 and 16-year-old girls are from the Milwaukee area.
"Oftentimes it's really hard to gauge what we do in law enforcement -- to put a face with what we are doing, but when we actually see a child who`s been recovered, a victim that is now made whole to some extent, we are giving them the help they need, it makes the whole program worthwhile," Sheriff Schmaling said.
Sheriff Schmaling says the Sheriff’s Office ICAC unit and the Racine County Human Trafficking Task Force are dedicated to the ongoing pursuit of those individuals that prey on children within Racine County and communities throughout the state.
"(In this case), an investigator had come across information about a human trafficking situation which led to the recovery of a 13-year-old and 16-year-old child," Sheriff Schmaling said.
While Sheriff Schmaling can't get into the details of what these girls were exposed to, human trafficking typically involves holding someone against their will and forcing them to take part in sex acts. Removing young girls from these situations is something that makes Sheriff Schmaling proud.
"This is something that should put a smile on the faces of our community -- that we are actually looking for these victims. They are not forgotten about," Sheriff Schmaling said.
It's important work, but Sheriff Schmaling admits that work is nowhere near done.
"There could be other victims. There could be offenders out there that we`re still looking at. In fact, at this very hour we are actually still putting the pieces of that puzzle together," Sheriff Schmaling said.
Human trafficking is a growing problem not just in Racine County -- but across the state of Wisconsin and the country.
Schleicher, Colburn and Stone will be back in court on April 10th for a pre-trial conference.