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.
“Like other enforcement agencies across the country, MDOT recognizes that members of the trucking industry are an invaluable asset in the fight against this heinous crime,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “Considering over 200 cases of human trafficking have been reported in Mississippi since 2007, it is absolutely critical that MDOT’s Office of Enforcement partner with these organizations to further train our officers on ways we can combat this increasing issue and uncover these victims.”
To report information about a potential trafficking situation, call 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.or