On April 22, 2015, TAT was awarded the Suzanne McDaniel Memorial Award for Public Awareness as part of the annual Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Awards at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Bill Brady, an over-the-road truck driver for Lodestar, and driver of the Freedom Drivers Project, accepted the award on behalf of TAT. Representatives from the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, National Association of Truck Stop Operators Foundation and Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association were in attendance.
Click here to read our acceptance speech.
The trucking industry has shown they are in the business of saving lives through Truckers Against Trafficking, and the results prove it:
For more information on the gains made by TAT and the trucking industry in 2015, check out our Annual Report.
“I support the work @TATKylla is doing to support the eradication of human/child sex trafficking via the trucking industry.” – Sean Reyes (@seanreyesag), Utah Attorney General
“The trucking industry is extremely diverse, and the issues very complex. In the past, we have worked with a multitude of groups both within and outside the trucking industry. We have found many already “know” the trucking industry and see no need for industry involvement. Most typically, those projects fail or have major issues that remain unresolved. Truckers Against Trafficking has taken the opposite approach. They make a point to become subject matter experts by talking to the experts and the end-users. TAT involves the industry from the beginning and uses feedback to further refine their projects. This ensures the critical issues are addressed during the process, rather than after completion. We have found TAT to be one of the most responsive organizations with which we work.” –Greg Fulton, President of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association
“Truckers are now one of the most motivated and well-organized industry groups working on this issue and their reports have led to countless arrests and recoveries of victims across the country. TAT has been instrumental in creating a community of activists who are speaking out against human trafficking and directly impacting the lives of victims. TAT is a leader in the fight against human trafficking and we regularly cite their work as an example for other industries to follow. I have no doubt that their work has and will continue to transform our ability to fight human trafficking and we are proud to partner with them in their efforts to eliminate human trafficking and modern-day slavery.”
– Nicole Moler, Director, National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), Polaris Project
“During my truck trip from Blackpool to Baghdad, during the Iran-Iraq War, the drivers were all incredibly protective of me … and that’s the role I see them playing here, in fighting human trafficking. They are like the connective tissue across our country and could really become a vast network of ‘first responders.’ ”
-Kay Chernush, President & Artistic Director of Artworks for Freedom
“Many years ago I was brought to a truck stop to be raped, beaten, and thrown into the life of prostitution. I didn’t want, volunteer, or dream of being sexually exploited. There were no agencies or organizations to help me. TAT is doing a wonderful job of promoting awareness of this atrocity surrounding the trucking industry. Knowledge is power and is being passed on. Truckers are now in a position to help victims, and make a difference in our plight to END Human Trafficking in our world. Thank you TAT!”
-Beth Jacobs, survivor and Founder of Willow Way in Tucson, AZ
“The TAT material is well done. It doesn’t take a lot of time to train staff, and the information is well put together. We fully embrace the efforts of TAT and will continue to work with them to get the information out to all professional drivers. Working together we can make a difference and curb this criminal activity.”
–Chief David Lorenzen, Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement, Iowa DOT
Mr. Speaker, Mike, a truck driver, pulled over at a rest stop. He noticed a young girl approaching multiple trucks. The girl, who was clearly under age, came up to his cab and offered him sex for money. She seemed scared, and he asked her a few questions. She told him that, if she did not bring in enough money for her trafficker, the beatings by him would get worse. Thank goodness she had the courage to call for help. Mike understood the signs of human trafficking through an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking. He called the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and authorities immediately arrived. The trafficker was arrested, put in jail, and the girl was rescued. I commend Truckers Against Trafficking. It is critical for our citizens to be educated about sex trafficking so we can end this scourge. America cannot continue to be blissfully silent while modern-day slavery is occurring in our communities. And that’s just the way it is.
-Congressman Ted Poe addressing the House Floor on 2-15-13
“Approximately three years ago I picked up a wallet sized brochure from Truckers Against Trafficking at the TA truck stop in Hebron, OH. Since then my life hasn’t been the same. Truckers Against Trafficking is a huge network of truckers that are out there on the front lines giving these victims a fighting chance. The way I view this awesome organization is, it gives these victims some sort of hope of getting their life back and bringing these traffickers to justice. For me, becoming a part of Truckers Against Trafficking gave me purpose as a truck driver.”
–Rick Youngquist, Professional Driver
“Truckers Against Trafficking plays an integral role in taking a stand against commercial sexual exploitation and I am continuously amazed by their work and dedication. Their commitment to amplifying the survivor voice in the community is beyond amazing and we need more orgs to stand up and take notice of what and how this org operates because they are doing something right and they #ListenToSurvivors. Kylla Lanier I have always been happy to contribute to your projects, I am thrilled to see TAT get such great publicity!”
A trucker identified an adult female victim of sex trafficking when she approached his truck to solicit for sexual services. The female informed the trucker that she had a pimp and that she wished to leave her situation. The caller obtained the female’s permission to transport her away from the truck stop and help her access services. The trucker contacted the NHTRC while the female was in his vehicle and notified the NHTRC that he could transport her to another truck stop away from her pimp. The NHTRC connected with one of our local emergency service provider partners who made arrangements to pick up the female from the truck stop and transport her to their shelter for services.
A male trucker was sitting in his truck when he was approached by a female no older than 14 years old, who was offering sexual services. Earlier, the caller had observed the minor walking from truck to truck with a male in his 20s. The minor spoke to the caller alone and told him that she was from another state and wanted to return home. The caller offered to help her but her male counterpart arrived at the truck and she became silent. The caller observed the male take the female to the shower area and reported the incident to truck stop management. The caller was directed by the management to call the NHTRC. The NHTRC took down the reporting details and advised the caller to call 911 for immediate assistance and to call the NHTRC back to help coordinate additional services and a report to our specialized law enforcement for investigation. Shortly after the call, 5 police cars were dispatched to the location and several males were arrested. The police notified the trucker that the minor was a runaway from another state and that the male had outstanding warrants and was arrested for kidnapping and other charges.
Larry was a truck driver who stopped for the night at a busy truck stop. Before going to bed, Larry saw two females he believed to be minors knocking on the cab doors of various trucks parked around him. Larry had learned about human trafficking happening at truck stops from Truckers Against Trafficking and knew he needed to call the NHTRC. The NHTRC immediately responded by calling local police dispatch and filing a report with the human trafficking task force in that city. Law enforcement found both females that night and took them into protective custody.
A few months later, a second truck driver reported that he had also seen minors soliciting commercial sex at the same truck stop and was able to provide more detailed information about the potential controllers. The NHTRC sent this report to the same human trafficking task force who used this information as part of an ongoing investigation at this location.
James* called the NHTRC hotline one evening after being approached by a teenage girl who was going door to door at a truck stop. The girl told James that she was trying to make money to travel back home, and asked if there was anything she could do for him. James had recently learned about human trafficking from a Truckers Against Trafficking video he had watched and believed the girl was a potential victim. After leaving his truck door, James saw the girl knock on a few more trucks before walking across the street, where she got into a parked car with a waiting driver. James called the NHTRC and provided a description of the girl, information about his interaction with her and as much information as he had about the vehicle. The NHTRC immediately reported the situation to law enforcement and an investigation was opened.
*Truckers Against Trafficking received these reports from our partners at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Names, locations, and other identifying information have been changed and/or omitted to preserve the confidentiality of the individuals served.
Call from truck stop employee results in arrest of traffickers and recovery of victims
Field Manager Debo Adepiti at the TA Travel Plaza in Jessup, Maryland was making a premise check, including the fuel des, mechanics shop, and hotel, when Alan Bailey, the night porter, told him a young lady had recently come in dressed provocatively; the porter suspected prostitution. After speaking with both the driver of the van that brought the girl, as well as the young lady when she left the hotel, Adepiti believed the girl was being trafficked. He contacted Howard County police. When detectives arrived, they recognized a woman from one of the “X-Factor” ads they’d been investigating for two months on Backpage.com. As a result of Adepiti’s call, they arrested two men and a woman on human trafficking charges. The trio were advertising as many as 12 women from various states, posting ads, renting hotel rooms, scheduling appointments for prostitution and taking money from the women after they were forced to perform sex acts. Detectives also learned all three individuals provided drugs to keep the women high, making them work without sleep, assaulting them and forcing them to perform sex acts with them under threat. Police were able to locate and recover six of the women being abused by the ring of traffickers.
Kevin Kimmel, Con-way Truckload Driver
Con-way Truckload driver Kevin Kimmel was named the 2015 Harriet Tubman Award winner for his actions which saved a woman from torture and modern-day slavery. In January 2015, Kimmel caught a glimpse of a distraught-looking young girl in the darkened window of an RV which had pulled into the truck stop where Kimmel had stopped to sleep. He decided things didn’t look right and called the police. When police responded, they found an Iowa couple in the RV, along with a 20-year-old malnourished and frightened young woman, who said the couple had kidnapped her two weeks earlier in Iowa and forced her into prostitution. The couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking. Kimmel, who has daughters and granddaughters, learned the gruesome details of the case through the news. “I’m just happy I helped her,” he said.
**Kevin Kimmel was the 2015 Harriet Tubman Award winner
Tracy Mullins, General Manager of the Petro Stopping Center in Spokane, Washington
Tracy is a Spokane resident and 14-year veteran of the transportation industry. She credits the TAT training required of all employees/managers of TravelCenters of America LLC or TA, with playing a pivotal role in her awareness of “something that could be wrong.”
Tracy recounted that she was walking into a restaurant near her travel plaza to talk to the manager. She noticed two young girls sitting with an older man. “I positioned myself close enough to the table to hear the young girls ask for a ride to Seattle. At this point, the images of all the young girls from the training video were going through my mind. I approached the table and asked the girls if everything was okay,” she stated. Although they answered affirmatively, the man seemed uncomfortable. Then, after Tracy heard the girls ask other drivers for a ride, she decided to make the call. The responding officer told her the girls were runaways from a neighboring state and had $5 between them. “This is a very special award for me, because, as a mother, I know we helped two young girls not become a statistic that day.”
**Tracy Mullins was the 2013 Harriet Tubman Award winner