Authorities raise awareness about human trafficking

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Human trafficking is not only an issue happening across the world but also right here in Region 8.

With the most recent instances involving a restaurant owner and a Trumann teen who was found in Nebraska days after she went missing, authorities are stressing that the human trafficking issue is happening in our backyards.

"Anytime you have human trafficking, sex trafficking is soon to take over," said Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd. "It is a problem that we see rising, unfortunately."

Boyd called it a hidden trade in the world.

"Most people have the understanding that it can't happen here," said Boyd. "Even though we don't get many cases, it does happen and it passes through here every day."

Danny Fuller is a professional truck driver and a part of the Arkansas Road Team. He said they recognize that trafficking is an issue which is why they are happy about the 2017 legislation that requires a human trafficking prevention course before obtaining a commercial driver's license.

"This teaches us how to be knowledgeable about human trafficking," said Fuller. "Where does it happen, how does it happen and why does it happen? We learn about those questions in grave detail."

Both Boyd and Fuller said it is very important, truck driver or not, to be vigilant.

"A big deal is if someone doesn't speak English at all or doesn't make eye contact with you or seem scared about something, that should be a red flag," said Boyd. "That red flag could say they may have been brought here to perform illegal sexual acts."

"Maybe you see someone with an RV in a parking lot and you see a lot of young boys or girls going in or out," said Fuller. "Or maybe you see someone flashing a flashlight or talking about commercial prostitution in a business parking lot. What you should do is go inside the business and tell someone you do not feel something is right about that situation."

Truckers Against Trafficking or TAT is a 501 (c) (3) that has been fighting human trafficking since 2009.

Their mission is to get everyone to say something if they see something.

"It doesn't have to be a truck driver," said Fuller. "It doesn't have to be the news media. it can be just the human being that is sitting in the parking lot and see something going on."

In any case, residents are urged to report human trafficking if they suspect it to be taking place.

"It doesn't hurt to alert your local law enforcement and write down license plate numbers just to say 'Hey, something doesn't feel right about what I just saw,'" said Boyd.

You can call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or contact your local police department.

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