US Truckers Mobilizing Against Human Trafficking

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( — May 3, 2017) — Because of the nature of their job, truckers are “increasingly seen as operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking,” says CNN reporter, Eoghan Macguire.

Human trafficking is described as “a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his (or) her will,” by the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH).

In January 2015, truck driver, Kevin Kimmel reported on Fox News that an incident he witnessed at a gas station in New Kent County, Virginia.

According to CNN, Kimmel noticed a “kind of unusual” family recreational vehicle parked nearby. Kimmel later saw a “minor female’ appear from behind the curtain before abruptly disappearing.” He called the local sheriff and reported what he described as a “female in really bad shape.” Police arrived on the scene, arresting an Iowa couple. 

Kimmel’s experience made him aware that truckers are in a position to make a difference in combating human trafficking. Kimmel is still a truck driver and “speaks about his experiences at anti-trafficking events around the country,” CNN Reports. “Truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that victims pass through given the transient nature of their job.”

Kendis Paris of anti-trafficking charity Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) says, “At any given time in the United States there are more truckers out on the road than there are law enforcement officers.” TAT is an organization that “seeks to educate truckers about what to look out for, how to report suspected incidences of trafficking and why it is important to do so.

TAT utilizes truckers to fight against human trafficking. Paris describes the truckers as “a mobile army that can report these situations instead of having them take place under their noses.” According to the American truckers Association, there are about 3.5 million truckers operating across the country.

A bill in Texas has been proposed that would “make it compulsory for anyone looking to attain a commercial vehicle license to undergo a human trafficking awareness course,” reports CNN. “Ohio already requires prospective truck drivers who opt into any of its states regulated professional truck driver training programs to complete human trafficking training prior to receiving their Commercial Driver’s License.”

“This is leading to more cases being made,” Senator Sylvia R. Garcia says. I think any help that law enforcement gets in terms of tips that they can follow … that’s great for everybody.”

While this is a step in the right direction, it does not solve the problem. “Law enforcement needs to be trained. Prosecutors need to make human trafficking cases a priority and actually prosecute these guys to the fullest extent of the law,” says Jamey Caruthers, an attorney with Houston nonprofit, Children at Risk, to the Texas Tribune. “Our legislation needs to be stronger so that these guys don’t just get a slap on the wrist and get right back out there … and not just the traffickers but the buyers as well,” she adds.