Human trafficking has been finding its way into news broadcasts with increasing frequency. Known as the ‘modern-day slavery’, it is happening on a much larger scale than many people realize.
In a recent nationwide operation, 67 people were arrested by the FBI under suspicion of sex trafficking. This was the culmination of a collaboration that spanned federal and state law enforcement working in unity with local and tribal law officers.
There still needs to be a much greater intervention nationally if the scourge of human trafficking is to be stopped. In 2018 over 11,000 cases of human trafficking were reported to the hot-line, this figure was 25% lower in 2017. It is estimated than in the United States alone, 400,000 people will be trafficked, destined for the sex industry or used as slave labor.
Truck Drivers Make A Stand
Thankfully, the law enforcement agencies no longer have to fight the traffickers alone; 3.5 million truck drivers now stand alongside them. Truckers Against Trafficking, a non-profit organization, has trained 720,000 long-haul truckers since 2009.
These drivers are trained in how to question potential victims, what to look for and how to report suspected trafficking. Passing through many motels, rest stops and motels is part of a trucker’s working life and these are the places that human trafficking activities often take place.
In the 10 years since the program started these specially trained truckers called the national hot-line over 2,250 times. Additionally, they have called 911 and local law enforcement teams. In total over 600 cases of potential trafficking have come to light, impacting on over 1,100 victims.
However, there is a limit to what the drivers can achieve on their own so there are calls for the entire industry to start to support their drivers in the fight against the traffickers. Truckers Against Trafficking has been joined by companies within the industry to educate their drivers and others to recognize the signs of trafficking.
Bridgestone, for example, partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to include the subject of human trafficking into their regular driver and sales force training so they know what to look for and what action to take.
Many members of state trucking groups have benefited from Truckers Against Trafficking’s education program and have learned how to identify and report incidences of human trafficking. Training has been completed by these state associates across all 50 states an increase of 42 since 2011.
This has created a huge network of trained people who can help expose human traffickers and make our roads a safer place. It is encouraging that airlines and bus companies are also offering vouchers so that victims can return to their homes.
There is still more to do – other industries can also help by making employees aware of the national hot-line number and teaching them how to recognize victims. The presence of zero-tolerance policies within companies is increasing, making it an offense for an employee to buy sex on company time or to use company finances to do so.
Police departments, Sheriff’s offices and federal agencies do not have the manpower to tackle this vast problem alone. Ultimately we are all responsible for making sure our roads are a safe place to be, whether as individuals, employees or companies. We can all educate ourselves and work to bring an end to this modern-day slavery epidemic.