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January is Human Trafficking month

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is a campaign bringing to light that almost 25 million men, women and children are trafficked every year.

And it can happen in everyday places, even your local truck stops.

The Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is partnering with the Truckers Against Trafficking and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Together they are doing community outreach at carrier locations, rest and truck stops, and it’s a growing problem.

“Nationwide it is over 10,000 in the U.S., that’s what’s been reported,” said Chris Stewart, Officer, Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Major roads like I-80 and I-25 are used to move people across state lines.

“We have had some issue with trafficking in Wyoming, especially around big events like CFD, and we’ve had FBI and the Cheyenne Police Department involved in some trafficking incidence,” said Dustin Ragon, Lieutenant, Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Trafficked victims can be minors, and force and coercion keep victims in place.

”Just cuz we’re in Wyoming doesn’t mean it’s not happening here. These things are happening in our small towns, as well as Cheyenne and Casper. What happens is they prey on people who are looking for something better. Or on the children that are runaways, and what they do is they promise them something better. Then they pick them up and traffick them out,” said Stewart.

Signs to look for are a lack of eye contact, nervousness, hand grabbing, or arm pulling.

Other signs to look for according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline are when people are not allowing companions to go into public alone or speak for themselves.

Tattoos or branding on the neck or lower back. Small children who are serving in a family restaurant.

Checking into hotels or motels with older males and referring to those males as a boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp.

Noticeable signs of poor physical or dental health or avoiding interaction with authority figures or law enforcement.

Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction. Lacking official identification documents.

Appears malnourished or showing signs of physical injuries and abuse.

“We want you to be an extra set of ears and eyes on the roadway, looking for those suspicious activities. Looking for people that seem like they are being controlled or in an unwanted situation, and then just report it,” said Ragon.

This campaign hopes to bring to the public’s attention telltale signs that they can look for to make sure that everybody stays safe.

If you’d like some more information on human trafficking or a hot-line number, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(888) 373-7888 or 911.

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