Road trips across the country can be a lot of fun. Some of us make long trips often and we’ll either stock the car with snacks and beverages before we leave, or get them throughout the trip. Ether way, gas is a requirement and it’s hard to resist truck stop gas prices seen from a far, on most any major interstate. They’re great one-stops with restrooms, gas, grocery stores, gift shops, restaurants, hot coffee, doughnuts, Slim Jims, you name it. But what most people don’t know is that truck stops have been a dark haven for human trafficking for too long. Just as this sad fact if becoming more well known to the general public, it’s also being addressed and attenuated thanks to organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking. Their goals include increasing awareness and giving members of the trucking industry the tools needed to recognize and report suspicions of sex trafficking. Truck drivers are in a unique position to spot and stop trafficking.
In January 2016, a truck driver named Kevin Kimmel saved a victim of the sex trafficking. Little did he know she was being tortured, raped, starved and abused. He saved her by recognizing the signs of human/sex trafficking and then reporting his suspicions to the police. He had no idea that his call most likely saving her life.
Modern-day slavery, or human trafficking exists whenever people are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex. Around the world, there are an estimated 20.9 million slaves today. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
While illegal, human trafficking is a booming business. Traffickers recruit out of our schools, online, in shopping malls, as well as the streets and other locations. A large percentage of the people trafficked are women and children. Many of them are used in the sex industry. They are the prostituted people on the street and in private homes, and in legitimate businesses such as restaurants, truck stops and motels. They need to be identified and rescued.
Human trafficking is a booming business to be sure. It’s estimated the industry of selling human beings is about $150 billion, second only to drug trafficking. The difference between the two is “You can sell a kilo of heroin once; you can sell a 13-year-old girl 20 times a night, 365 days a year.”
Below is a gripping video created by Truckers Against Trafficking that explores the world of trafficking with interviews that include FBI agents, truck drivers, the Texas Attorney General and one 15-year-old girl who gives her incredible account of being held captive. She was told if she didn’t do what her pimp said, they would kill her, or go after her best friend, or family. She said she was told she was worthless and wouldn't be able to do anything else with her life. Running away could be deadly. She did try to get away. After she was caught by her pimp, she was beaten, then made to watch her friend, also captive, be pulled up the stairs by only her hair and thrown down—three times. While this was going on she was told it was all her fault her friend was being beaten. As her friend was screaming her name, she was told,“That’s what happens when you try to get away.”
The FBI reports most pimps entice girls who are often scared runaways. They offer the girls a “home,” a new “family,” and “protective fatherly figure.” But to other pimps and traffickers, their girls are referred to as their “stables.” Girls never see the money, which goes against the myth that it’s “shared.” Another myth is saying girls want to do what they’re doing. Why would any girl want to live in dirty, unsanitary conditions, while being beaten, starved, drugged, emotionally abused, tortured, raped and forced to have sex with strangers?
This video is very informative, compelling and disturbing so there is a Trigger Warning.