January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says there has been a marked increase in the number of human trafficking cases in Montana over the past year.

"We need to continue to raise awareness and educate the public about human trafficking, it does happen in Montana," Fox said. "We've had over 20 human trafficking cases across all levels of law enforcement last year [2017] and that's up from about 14 the year before... that's quite an increase."

Fox says the use of sting operations is likely partly responsible for the increase in human trafficking cases.

"Our investigators get on the internet and try to draw-in both the johns and the human traffickers," Fox said. "From all of these efforts we would anticipate seeing an uptick, but I also think it's because there is more of this activity out there: it's the fastest growing crime in the world. Montanans's aren't immune to it and we just  need to continue to work hard to stop it."

Fox says other reasons for the increase in human trafficking cases include an increased number of tips coming in from the public and more law enforcement training on the issue.