The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has joined various agencies across the state and country to recognize January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human trafficking continues to be among the fastest-growing crimes nationwide. Many government agencies are stepping forward to enhance awareness of issues and implementing methods to combat this increasing problem.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) reported 24 cases of some form of human trafficking in Mississippi in 2017 and an alarming 4,460 cases of human trafficking in the United States. Many victims of this crime are not in one place long enough to form social connections and are often transported throughout the country in commercial motor vehicles. MDOT’s Office of Enforcement plays a critical role in combating this issue and uncovering these victims.
Since 2015, in coordination with Gov. Phil Bryant’s Human Trafficking Task Force, all MDOT Enforcement Officers have been trained on how to identify and police human trafficking on state highways and at weigh stations. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of others. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including the U.S., and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues today.
“MDOT’s Office of Enforcement is combating this terrible crime year-round,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “MDOT’s officers are trained to know what to look for and how to help victims when found.”
The public can report information about a potential trafficking situation by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888. Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Participate in the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #endtrafficking.