The Colorado Motor Carriers Assn., Colorado Truckstop Conference, and local elected and law enforcement officials launched an educational and awareness campaign focused on combating the human trafficking of underage children with a kick-off event held Monday, Nov. 11, at Travel Centers of America in Commerce City.
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.
The campaign was launched in conjunction with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a national non-profit organization based in Colorado that is working with the trucking industry to help truck drivers and truck stop employees recognize children and others who may be being trafficked as part of prostitution rings and report it to law enforcement.
“Having the support of the Colorado trucking industry and truck stops along with law enforcement and elected officials is critical to the work of Truckers Against Trafficking,” Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking, said. “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.”
According to TAT, human trafficking 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. The U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates that up to 300,000 American kids are at risk annually of entering the sex trade, Paris said.
“The Colorado Motor Carriers Assn. 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,” said Mike Adinolfe, the chairman of the board for CMCA.
“We in the truck stop community recognize the dangers associated with human trafficking and the pain and suffering caused by it,” said Scott Paulson, a prior chairman and current board member of the National Assn. of Truckstop Operators (NATSO). “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.”
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 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,” said Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol.
The campaign will use materials developed by TAT including wallet cards, DVDs, posters, and other materials to help drivers and truck stop employees to recognize and act when they suspect human trafficking may be occurring.
For more information visit www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.