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Online gaming app 'Discord' used to lure teens into trafficking, experts say

Police say the suspects used an app that's popular with online gamers called "Discord" to connect with a teenage boy.
Credit: WTSP

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Police arrested seven suspects in a major human trafficking bust involving teenage victims.

Police say they found two teenage boys in a filthy trailer in St. Petersburg. One had been there for a year and was used a sex slave. The other boy was lured there from Louisiana.

READ: Seven people arrested during human trafficking investigation in St. Petersburg

Police say the suspects used an app that's popular with online gamers called "Discord" to connect with the Louisiana victims.

The Discord website says it's an all-in-one voice and text chat for gamers that's free and secure. But 16-year-old gamer Christopher Gerteisen says it's only as secure as you make it.

"All you have to do is join it. There's no one vetting anybody. All you have to do is join the server (and) pretend you're however old you say you are."

Gerteisen uses the app to talk with multiple friends at once while they play video games. 

"We just talk into our mics and everybody in our channel can hear it."

Chip Wells is a crime prevention specialist. On the 10News Facebook page he encouraged parents to check the privacy settings on all their apps.

"What it comes down to is the parent being the parent taking an active interest in their child, taking interest in what they're doing."

In the recent human trafficking investigation, St. Petersburg police say the predators found the boy from Louisiana on Discord and then coordinated picking him up and driving him to St. Petersburg.

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