Groups Come Together to Combat Human Trafficking in Colorado
Commerce City, Co. – The Colorado Motor Carriers Association, Colorado Truckstop Conference, and local elected and law enforcement officials launched an educational and awareness campaign today focused on combatting the human trafficking of underage children who are being forced to engage in prostitution. The kick off for the program was held at Travel Centers of America in Commerce City.
The campaign was launched in conjunction with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a national non-profit organization, based in Colorado, who is working with the trucking industry to help truckdrivers and truckstop employees recognize children and others who may be being trafficked as part of prostitution rings and report it to law enforcement.
The campaign will use materials developed by TAT (www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org ) including wallet cards, DVDs, posters, and other materials to help drivers and truckstop employees to recognize and act when they suspect human trafficking may be occurring.
According to TAT, human trafficking, a term for modern-day slavery, is a $32-billion worldwide industry with more than 27 million people enslaved. While illegal, human trafficking is a booming business, second only to drug trafficking. It has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Annually it is estimated that over 17,000 people are trafficked into this country every year. Most of the people trafficked are women and children. Many of them are used in the sex industry where they are forced into prostitution. What may even be more disturbing is that the U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates that up to 300,000 American kids are at risk annually of entering the sex trade.
Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said “Having the support of the Colorado trucking industry and truckstops along with law enforcement and elected officials is critical to the work of Truckers Against Trafficking. This means that thousands more will become educated and equipped about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how they can help end it. When groups like this come together in their state it not only raises awareness of the problem but also ensures concerted action which will help curb this heinous activity which takes advantage of those least able to defend themselves.”
Several elected officials, leaders in the trucking community, and members of law enforcement attended the event and spoke of the need for action and the importance of the issue.
Representative-elect Dominic Moreno commented, “I commend the people within the trucking and truckstop industries as well as their partners in law enforcement on this initiative with Truckers Against Trafficking. Through their combined efforts I believe that we may better be able to eliminate human trafficking and save many young people from a life of prostitution and abuse.”
"The Colorado Motor Carriers Association and its members are appalled that human trafficking occurs in our country today. Our association along with our companies and drivers are committed to stamping out this horrible problem that causes a great deal of pain and suffering for many people in our country today”, stated Mike Adinolfe, the Chairman of the Board for CMCA.
Scott Paulson, a prior Chairman and current board member of the National Association of Truckstop Operators (NATSO), noted that, “We in the truckstop community recognize the dangers associated with human trafficking and the pain and suffering caused by it. NATSO and the CMCA Truckstop Conference support the Truckers Against Trafficking Campaign and we pledge to do our part in spotting and reporting underage trafficking at truck stops in our state throughout the country.”
“The Colorado State Patrol is proud to be a partner in this effort to curtail human trafficking. Human trafficking affects the lives of countless people, not only those runaway children being prostituted but their families. In addition other crimes such as theft, drug dealing, and other offenses often occur along with human trafficking,” commented Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a 501(c)3 that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking. The group helps to educate those in the trucking industry through public awareness campaigns, the provision of wallet cards, the distribution of DVDs to fleets and truckstop operators for training purposes, and through partnering with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking. If trafficking is suspected, individuals may call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.