Originally published for Justice61 January 2015

What to Do If You Suspect Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is big business. According to recent statistics, human trafficking brings in $150 billion dollars annually, with an estimated 200 million women and children falling victim to human trafficking each year. In fact, if you break down the numbers, the average rate of victimization for human trafficking is one every thirty seconds.

How does such a wide-reaching and prevalent problem go unnoticed? According to this article on the subject, a large part of how human traffickers continue to operate unnoticed is through their skill at operating beneath the veneer of normality. Nobody wants to believe that there is something this heinous going on in their backyard, and so many human traffickers succeed where other criminals would be caught. In fact, this article cites the omnipresent strip mall “Massage Parlor” as an often-used convenient front for human trafficking.

But how do you identify human trafficking, and what can you do about it?

Heather Poole—a flight attendant and human trafficking activist—wrote this opinion piece on her experiences with human trafficking, including learning to spot warning signs such as:

… The signs of a fake massage parlor: Security cameras outside, customers getting buzzed in. Windows covered with bars, boards or dark curtains, employees who rarely leave the location.

Other incongruous signs, such as suspicious body language, out-of-season clothing, and domineering and submissive relationships between unrelated people, can often tip off professionals and law enforcement personnel to the presence of human trafficking.

If you are not a law-enforcement professional, it is important to know what resources are available to you should you suspect human trafficking. The most important, of course, is to call 911 if you’ve found incontrovertible evidence of human trafficking. However, there are many other resources available for the average person who suspects human trafficking:

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center – (www.traffickingresourcecenter.org) A national resource for information on Human Trafficking. Operated by the Polaris nonprofit organization, the NHTRC provides help and resources across all levels of engagement. The hotline number is 1-888-373-7888.

Human Trafficking Center – (www.humantrffickingcenter.org) Denver’s own Human Trafficking Center is an organization dedicated to responding to the problems of human trafficking internationally, through research and advocacy. For a local response number, they suggest the Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking, whose hotline can be reached at 1-866-455-5075.

Justice61 – (www.justice61.org) Our mission at Justice61 is to provide safety and liberation for girls and young women rescued from human trafficking. Visit our website for more information on the services we provide, including safe houses, advocacy, and rehabilitation.

Human trafficking is an issue that affects all of us in the modern world. However, due to the unseen nature of the crime, it’s important to know what resources are available to you in order to fight against modern-day slavery. Knowledge is the first tool we can use to end human trafficking. If you have any questions, either regarding who we are or what you can do to help, please contact us here: http://www.justice61.org/contact-us/