Throughout 2021 Guardian Group has observed another increase in women and minors being trafficked online, following the dramatic increase in 2020. Throughout the last two years many people throughout the country experienced financial hardship, the educational system was devastated, and the mental health of today's youth was compromised. This has created an environment that allows for human trafficking to flourish.
Traffickers prey on the most vulnerable. Seeking to exploit those that are experiencing poverty, abuse or simply young people that suffer from lower self-esteem and are easy to manipulate. As our nation continues to adapt to the rapidly changing environment law enforcement remains spread thin, 150,000 new escort ads are posted online daily.
Resource constraints, lack of time and expertise combined with the transient nature of this crime creates a gap in the system that the PURSUIT™ Team naturally fills. Throughout 2021 the goal of Guardian Group's PURSUIT™ Team's efforts was maximizing output and increasing impact. With this in mind we were able to focus our time and resources on law enforcement partners that were actively conducting recovery operations. This resulted in less states covered but a greater impact. Sex trafficking lead development increased by 48% from over last year due to the addition of one analyst hired in late 2020. Identifying 161 victims in 2021.
Understanding the exact impact our efforts combined with the diligent work of our law enforcement and district attorney partners can be tricky. These cases are complicated and time consuming. It is not uncommon for us to never hear the results of a sting operation, this is because those involved must protect the case. Other times the judicial system can take years before a trafficker is brought to justice. What we do know is that the significant increase in sting support has resulted in the recovery of numerous victims and the arrest of some traffickers.
Looking for innovative ways to scale our efforts to match the scale of the problem has always been the challenge. In 2021 we made strides in the right direction to achieving this goal with the introduction of the PURSUIT™ Volunteer Training and Assessment Course. This course provides sex trafficking recognition training that enables volunteers with open source intelligence (OSINT) skills to confront sex trafficking of minors in their own back yards. Since its inception in late 2021, 217 volunteers have joined Guardian Group in this fight across 39 states. Together we are making change. Until all are free.