Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division will participate in a three-day initiative commencing on Human Trafficking Day, Jan. 11.
This initiative is a concentrated effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about human trafficking, what signs to look for and what to do in these situations.
Human trafficking is illegal exploitation of a person through force, fraud or coercion.
“It can take the form of sex trafficking, forced labor or domestic servitude. Human trafficking is not specific to age, race or gender and it occurs in rural, suburban and urban areas across Missouri,” states a release.
Victims of human trafficking are from all socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education.
“Human trafficking can happen almost anywhere, including Missouri’s roadways,” said Highway Patrol Col. Eric Olson. “Our commercial vehicle drivers, motor carriers and law enforcement officers are often our first line of defense against human trafficking. Knowing what to look for and how to respond to these situations is key to rescuing the vulnerable people being exploited.”
Signs of human trafficking are not always obvious, but according to the highway patrol, may include:
• presence of an older “boyfriend” or “girlfriend;”
• travel with an older male/female who isn’t a guardian;
• signs of psychological coercion such as depression, anxiety, and/or an overly submissive attitude;
• lack of control over his/her schedule, money and/or items proving identification;
• physical trauma such as bruises, cuts, burns, scars;
• poor health;
• coached/rehearsed responses to questions;
• substance abuse or addictions, selling drugs; or
Suspected human trafficking can be reported by calling (888) 373-7888.