Modern-day slavery, or human trafficking is a $150 billion industry that has hundreds of thousands of victims in the United States. Victims of human trafficking are forced into engaging in certain kinds of labor or sex acts without their consent. A large number of them are children and women, but it’s important to remember that human trafficking impacts people of all genders, races, and ages.
Roles of Trucking and Truck Stops in Human Trafficking
Truck stops are, unfortunately, not just resorts for truckers, but also hotspots of human trafficking. They are usually located in remote areas and near major highways, which makes them convenient transfer points for the traffickers. Traffickers are much less likely to get caught at truck stops due to limited surveillance and a transient population.
Additionally, the majority of people who visit truck stops are male. This is why traffickers consider them to be ideal places for commercial sex acts. With male truckers being their primary targets at those locations, human traffickers usually advertise through coded CB radio messages or online trucker boards.
Who Are the Victims and How to Recognize Them?
8 in 10 trafficking victims are women and children. While women and girls are usually trafficked for marriage and sexual slavery, men and boys are most commonly trafficked for exploitative labor.
Truck stops are places where offenders can pick up, drop off, or stop for paid sex without getting noticed easily, so most trafficking victims there are prostitute women and minors.
These are some red flags that will help truckers identify human trafficking victims:
- A victim may seem lost and may not possess any personal documents.
- Communication with the victim may be restricted. Furthermore, the victim may be a non-English speaker.
- A van or RV is dropping someone off and picking them up after a short period.
- Somebody mentions a “commercial company” or “lot lizard” through CB radio.
- Unexpected flashing lights from a vehicle could indicate the location of an interested “buyer”.
It is important to note, however, that you should not approach potential traffickers if you spot them. This could be dangerous and is against the law. Follow the suggested procedure and allow law enforcement to deal with traffickers and help the victims.
How Can Truck Drivers Help?
First of all, truck drivers should be educated on recognizing the signs of human trafficking. This includes understanding the red flags we already mentioned. Some organizations, such as Truckers Against Trafficking, provide comprehensive training programs that can help truckers and companies identify the signs of trafficking, as well as provide help to the victims.
Truckers who want to help should be vigilant around truck stops and other crowded areas they may be passing through. This way, they can notice the signs of trafficking and report suspicious activity immediately.
If you see signs of human trafficking, report it by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373 - 7888. Your single phone call can make a significant change for the victims of human trafficking. But once again, we urge you to refrain from dealing with traffickers independently, as that can be extremely dangerous and is against the law.
As a company that has been in the business for more than a decade now, we at AAA Freight aim to make the trucking industry a better place for everybody. Follow us on our social media accounts and join the growing community of truck drivers!