Trucking and Human Trafficking
What is Human Trafficking?
Victims of human trafficking find themselves forced or coerced into engaging in specific types of labor or commercial sex acts without their consent. Often, human trafficking remains a hidden crime. Victims fear their abusers as well as law enforcement and suffer such significant trauma or personal injury that they struggle to reach out for help.
Human trafficking impacts people across genders, races, and ages. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, and all too often, that victimization occurs in the shadows. Human trafficking traps an estimated 24.9 million people–64% are exploited for labor, while sexual exploitation accounts for an estimated 19% of human trafficking.
Why are Truck Stops Used for Human Trafficking?
Truck stops are conveniently positioned across the United States.
Truck stops are located on major highways, offering a practical, direct route for human traffickers.
Truck stops are often located in remote areas.
Frequently, truck stops are located in areas that might not have other stopping points, including a wide variety of hotels. In addition, they are often off the beaten path since they need large stretches of land to accommodate trucks and trailers in the parking lot. Because truck stops are so remote, traffickers often feel safer: as though they are, in general, less likely to get caught.
A male customer base dominates truck stops.
In some cases, the male-dominated nature of truck stops makes them the ideal place for commercial sex transactions. In others, they are simply the perfect place to transfer human cargo since male truckers may be less aware of the potential danger associated with those transactions or less sensitive, in general, to the likely plight of a human trafficking victim.
How are Truck Stops Used for Sex Trafficking?
Slang or code over the CB radio.
Buyers can use clear visual signals to indicate their interest.
Online trucker boards can advertise commercial sex.
Massage businesses near truck stops can disguise commercial sex operations.
As a Truck Driver, How Can I Help?
This nonprofit organization provides comprehensive training that can help empower and mobilize members of the trucking industry to identify signs of trafficking, including young females, children, and others who appear to be in distress. In addition, the organization works with truckers to help them learn how to provide aid to victims of human trafficking.
Truckers travel across the United States and enter truck stops and other areas that many people might not go, so they may have better opportunities to spot human trafficking victims and report suspicious activity. As a result, truck drivers across America have already prevented at least 708 human trafficking cases.
Red Flags For Over The Road Drivers
7 Look out for:
A victim may not know where they are. They may not be in control of Their documents of identiﬁcation.
Communication with the victim may be restricted or controlled. Victim may be unable lo speak for themselves.
You may hear CB chatter about a "commercial company" or see flashing lights signaling a “buyer“ location.
Victim may acknowledge a pimp and/or making a quota
You may see a van or RV that seems out of place around the semi-trucks or a vehicle dropping someone offal a truck and picking them up a short time later.
Who are the Victims?
In general, people who fit these categories are more likely to be victims of human trafficking.
Victims of labor trafficking may mention that they regularly work long hours, that they have fees deducted from their paychecks for housing, food, and equipment, or that someone else is holding their identification documents, including their passport or driver’s license. Victims of labor trafficking may feel fearful of their employers and admit that they cannot leave. Often, they engage in dangerous work that no one else wants to perform for insufficient pay. They may even seem reluctant to approach you at all, even if you offer up friendly conversation and interaction.
Labor trafficking is a common reason for many types of human trafficking and may cause just as much harm to its victims as other types of human trafficking, including sex trafficking. Many people die or suffer immense health complications due to the hard labor and lack of appropriate medical care and treatment expected of these individuals.
How to Report Human Trafficking if You Think You See It
If you see signs of human trafficking, you should never try to deal with it independently. Instead, report it by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888. A single phone call can go a long way toward creating significant change for the victims of human trafficking. You can also visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline website to learn more about reporting signs of human trafficking at truck stops across the United States.
Try to collect what information you can about human traffickers, from their vehicle to their appearance. Do not, however, approach traffickers directly. You should not engage in commercial sex acts or other behaviors that could place you in danger, even to gather more information.
The Lanier Law Firm has been honored to help both truckers and victims of trafficking get the justice and compensations they deserve. Our truck accident lawyers are available for a free case review.