The California Trucking Association has joined a task force whose mission is to battle human trafficking.
On Tuesday, the association announced that it joined Sacramento Together. The announcement at Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza came alongside the district attorneys of Sacramento and Yolo counties, as well as the California Highway Patrol and Truckers Against Trafficking.
“Combating human trafficking has been a top priority for the men and women in the trucking industry,” California Trucking Association President Lynette Brown said.
Brown said her organization has long been a supporter of Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit which works to educate drivers about the indicators of human trafficking and how to help stop it.
CFI driver Kevin Kimmel described his own encounter with human trafficking. On Jan. 6, 2015, Kimmel noticed a suspicious looking RV parked at a truck stop in New Kent, Virginia.
He found it odd that it was parked in the morning. In his many years of driving, he learned most RV traffic occurs during the daylight, typically by seniors, to avoid nighttime driving.
“Doing my paperwork. Doing what you normally do after you’re done with a load. And two slots over, I saw the RV,” he recalled. “Older model, black curtains, doesn’t look very family-ish.”
Kimmel said he then watched as a man approached the RV after getting what he believed to be cash from inside the truck stop.
“I noticed a guy walk up and knock on the door. Shortly after he left, he went into the truck stop, I assume got money, came back,” Kimmel said. “About 10 minutes later, I saw what I thought was a young girl peer out from the drapes, and she was immediately pulled back in.”
Kimmel called the police. Once they responded, they located the girl, who turned out to be a 20-year-old woman.
She was the victim of kidnapping and had been forced into prostitution, he explained. The couple responsible was arrested and convicted on human trafficking charges.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said she created the Sacramento Together task force in June 2015. It’s a coalition of approximately 30 agencies and organizations, including her office, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement, schools, medical professionals and other public agencies.
There are 19 human trafficking cases filed in Sacramento last year, Schubert said.
“Predators will find their victims anywhere,” she said. “They may find them at gas stations. They may find them online. They may find them at a children’s receiving home or a foster care home. They may find them at a restaurant. And yes, they may find them at a truck stop.”
The trained driver made over 1,200 calls t the national human trafficking hotline across the US, according to Truckers Against Trafficking. Those calls have led to nearly 560 likely cases of human trafficking, according to the organization.
Human Trafficking Indicators
Sacramento’s rape crisis center, WEAVE, said it’s worked with nearly 300 victims of human trafficking over the last 10 months.
Julie Bornhoeft, the chief development, and marketing officer of WEAVE, said there multiple indicators truck drivers and others can look for when it comes to human trafficking.
- A girl or young woman may be alone or in a pair that approaches multiple trucks, especially those that seem to be parking for the evening
- A girl or young woman may be loitering in a parking lot or inside a truck stop
- There may be a trafficker nearby watching the situation, which could include an RV that sets up and watches a young girl or woman
- Look for abnormal behavior, including a girl or young woman who appears terrified
Pay attention to people around you, you may save a life!