American truck drivers are responsible for moving the food and products that keeping the nation going. While truckers do immeasurable good for everyday people, underworld figures are using our roadways for human exploitation.
Human trafficking has become an international plague that garners billions of dollars for criminals by victimizing women, children and the most vulnerable. The United States has not been exempted from these horrific crimes and that’s why government, law enforcement, and trucking industry advocates such as Truckers Against Trafficking and CDLjobs.com are doing their part to raise awareness and save lives.
By getting the facts about human trafficking and what the hard-working men and women of the open road can do, you can put heinous offenders behind bars and end the misery.
Facts About Human Trafficking
The reprehensible practice of human trafficking remains a massive, global industry that reportedly generates upwards of $32 billion each year. Greed and total disregard for other people keeps this cancer on humanity afloat. These are the facts about human trafficking reported by the International Labor Organization.
- Approximately 40.3 million people are forced into modern-day slavery.
- Approximately 24.9 million people are used for forced labor.
- Approximately 4.8 million people are sexually exploited.
- Approximately 4 million people are forced into state-sanctioned labor.
- Approximately 16 million people are forced into private sector industries that include construction, manufacturing and mining.
- Approximately 3.8 million people are forced into domestic help.
- Approximately 1.7 million people are forced into agriculture labor.
- Approximately 71 percent of all victims are female.
- Approximately 29 percent of all victims are male.
- Approximately 74 percent of all sexually exploited human trafficking victims have been transported outside their country of origin.
According to the U.S. Department of State, upwards of 800,000 people are transported across international borders. Approximately 80 percent of those are women and half of them are mothers.
Human trafficking stands as a catastrophic global enterprise that often operates in plain view. Farms, manufacturing plants and domestic workers are not disguised like underground sexual exploitation schemes. That means this problem extends far beyond major organized crime syndicates such as drug cartels. Human trafficking is big business involving a variety of sectors and these are the numbers, according to the International Labor Organization.
- Human trafficking garners a $150-billion profit annually.
- Approximately $99 billion in human trafficking profits come from sexual exploitation.
- Approximately $34 billion in human trafficking profits come from construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities.
- Approximately $9 billion in human trafficking profits come from agriculture, forestry and fishing.
- Approximately $8 billion in human trafficking profits come from domestic labor.
In many cases, truck drivers unknowingly find themselves on the front lines of these criminal enterprises. The good men and women behind the wheel are the eyes and ears that can save others from the horrors of exploitation.
Major Trucker Initiatives Combat Human Trafficking
All across the country, local and state programs are being launched to help educate members of the trucking community to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Truckers may be shocked to know that while there are millions of people forced into labor, only 1,038 cases were prosecuted during 2016, according to the U.S. Department of State. Also, the Department of Justice was only able to secure 439 human trafficking convictions.
Law enforcement relies on everyday citizens to provide real-time information about these illegal activities. Truck drivers that “see something and say something” on the open road may be the best hope to save these ensnared souls.
In April 2018, San Francisco District Attorney requested $1.4 million to support the creation of a human trafficking unit. The call to fund 10 new positions armed with critical tools comes on the heels of a Department on the Status of Women report that discovered an additional 529 survivors in San Francisco.
Although the California city has long suffered a growth in illicit sex operations including massage parlors and brothels, prosecutors were only able to file charges in six out of 10 cases. The harshest conviction resulted in a 97-year prison sentence.
In Colorado, law enforcement plans to maximize truckers’ unique position on the state’s highways by making human trafficking awareness a centerpiece of CDL training. A recently passed law requires CDL applicants to undergo a course that educates and enlightens them about how to recognize signs of human trafficking.
“It’s my understanding that the majority of sex-trafficking cases and labor-trafficking cases are identified by members of the public,” Colorado state Rep. Dominique Jackson reportedly said. “And those members of the public include truckers. Truckers tend to be at places where people come in and out of — motels, truck stops and gas stations. They see a lot of things.”
Leaders in the truck driving industry such as the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and Truckers Against Trafficking overwhelmingly support such legislation.
“It was really something that a lot of our companies and drivers have embraced,” Colorado Motor Carriers Association Pres. Greg Fulton reportedly said. “It’s like having an army of additional eyes and ears out there to be monitoring this.”
Numerous trucking operations across the country are already engaged in providing human trafficking training to driving professionals. Organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking reports that since launching its advocacy initiative in 2009, upwards of 2,000 truckers have generated leads to a national human trafficking call center. The information provided by truckers provided actionable intel on 545 cases and 1,000 victims. Truckers Against Trafficking has reportedly provided training to nearly 500,000 industry professionals.
Truck Drivers Can Help Stop Human Trafficking
The first step toward thwarting despicable human trafficking on America’s roadways is awareness. Truck drivers have emerged as a top resource for law enforcement to crack down on this global epidemic. By recognizing red flags at truck stops and among people you come into contact with, victims can be rescued and criminals will do real jail time. Consider some of these tell-tale signs.
- Be on the lookout for minors lingering around truck stops who may be victims of sexual exploitation.
- Be cognizant of minors who appear to be under the control of adults who are not family members.
- Watch for physical signs of abuse or drug addiction.
- Look for signs of human branding and gangland tattoos.
- Listen on your CB radio for code words such as “Commercial Company.”
- Listen for covert conversations that may pertain to child trafficking.
Many truck drivers come into contact with high-trafficking sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing among others. These are some of the signs that workers may be victims of exploitation.
- A worker is not free come and go.
- A worker is a minor in a hard-labor position.
- A worker is not paid or works only for gratuities.
- A worker puts in excessive hours.
- A worker does not enjoy reasonable rest and lunch breaks.
- A worker mentions they are financially indebted to the company.
- A worker was delivered to the company under false pretenses.
Many human trafficking organizations will have excessive security camera systems and cover up windows to prevent public views. Along with these warning signs, people suffering from human trafficking and exploitation may appear malnourished, lack proper health care, avoid making eye contact, have limited personal belongings, and show marks of physical abuse.
As great American truck drivers, you can do your part by reporting your observations to law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1 or resources such as the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. As veterans of the open road, your eyes, ears and instincts can save lives.
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