SPRINGFIELD >> Law enforcement officials in Springfield say the western Massachusetts city is beginning to see a noticeable rise in human trafficking.

The Springfield Republican reports Det. Jamie Bruno spoke before the Springfield Violence Prevention Task Force on Tuesday to inform members that human trafficking has become a problem in the city and is expanding.

Nicolas Cotto, a local gang intelligence expert who also addressed the task force, says gangs in Springfield are recruiting girls as young as 13 to get involved in sex-for-money operations.

The issue has become so rampant across Massachusetts that a statewide human trafficking enforcement unit was recently established by state police and the Department of Children and Families.

Bruno says it's pivotal that parents are aware of what their children are doing with friends.

Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/