In the Fight Against Human Trafficking, Why Truckers?
By Lyn Thompson, Co-Founder, Truckers Against Trafficking
When working on a strategy to fight human trafficking, one of the first steps should be to determine which groups of people have the greatest opportunity to spot human trafficking as it is happening. In other words, who could serve as the primary surveillance?
When it comes to this crime, those front-line people include such groups as medical personnel, who treat victims in medical clinics, and service personnel in local neighborhoods (such as postal workers, and cable, electrical, and water providers), who come by homes on a regular basis and would notice if something unusual was going on. Restaurant and hotel personnel could also see trafficking taking place in their establishments, as could members of the transportation industry, including airport employees. Traffickers are continually transporting victims to sell them in a variety of places.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) began in 2009 as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries to work with the trucking industry, which is seven million strong. Truckers are trained to be extremely observant.
The trucking industry is composed of people already entrusted with caring for other people’s goods, which speaks to the character of the industry when it comes to caring for others—especially when others might be in trouble. Members of the trucking industry are everywhere, covering the entire United States. Furthermore, traffickers wanting to make fast money often target truckers at truck stops and rest areas because they’re everywhere and easy to reach along highways. This is evidenced by the number of victims rescued from truck stops by the FBI.
Members of the trucking industry, who had witnessed the prostitution of women and minors at various places throughout the United States for years but who had not known what it was – forced prostitution and modern-day slavery – began calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) to report what they were seeing. Polaris Project, which runs the hotline, reported that calls from truckers rose substantially between 2009 and 2014. Between Dec. 7th, 2007, when the hotline began and Sept. 30, 2014, the NHTRC received 996 calls from truckers.