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Wyoming Highway Patrol assisting with new ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative’

(File Photo; Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Highway Patrol said in a press release Tuesday that it is assisting with a new “Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative” that will be an annual three-day occurrence led by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

“Human trafficking has been proven to be a growing problem in the U.S. and Wyoming,” Wyoming Highway Patrol Commercial Carrier Lieutenant Dustin Ragon said. “This is why the Wyoming Highway Patrol is assisting in the Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative to bring more light and gain assistance from the public and commercial drivers to reduce the occurrences.”

The release states that as many as 24.9 million men, women and children “are sold into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other forced labor around the globe.”

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is launching the new Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative because commercial motor vehicle drivers and inspectors are more likely to be among the first to see human trafficking crimes since they are on roadways every day.

“That’s why awareness is critical,” the press release states. “Knowing what to look for and how to respond is essential.”

“This initiative is an awareness and outreach effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers, and the general public about the crime of human trafficking, the signs to look for, and what to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked.”

The press release adds that men, women and children can become victims of human trafficking regardless of age or background in all regions of the world.

“Human traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims,” the release adds. “Since human trafficking is often a crime hidden in plain sight, it is vital to be aware of its warning signs.”

The following indications may be a sign that a person is a victim of human trafficking:

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Working excessively long hours
  • Living at a place of employment
  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males and referring to those males as a boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
  • Poor physical or dental health 
  • Tattoos/branding on the neck or lower back
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Small children serving in a family restaurant
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment — barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows, etc.
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone or speak for themselves

“If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(888) 373-7888 or 911,” the release adds. “The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 200 languages. All calls are confidential and answered live by highly trained anti-trafficking hotline advocates.”