By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer
Click here to view original article on the Land Line magazine site
A truck driver’s passion for climbing has driven him to tackle his biggest adventure yet – scaling Mount Aconcagua in Argentina – to raise money and awareness about human trafficking.
Owner-operator Matt Hopkins of Dillon, Mont., plans to scale one of the seven tallest mountains in the world to raise money for Truckers Against Trafficking.
Matt Hopkins, 27, of Dillon, Mont., is an owner-operator who has been hauling cattle for the past five years, which is about the same time when he discovered his love of climbing.
Over the next three months, Hopkins hopes to raise at least $22,837, which is the same number of vertical feet he will climb to reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua. The money he raises will go directly to Truckers Against Trafficking to further its mission to “educate, equip, empower and mobilize” the trucking industry about human trafficking. Click here to donate or find out more about Hopkins’ journey.
“I have always loved the outdoors and hiking and really got into climbing about five years ago,” he told Land Line on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Through a climbing forum, Hopkins said he started talking to a guy who was looking for partners to climb with him on Mount Aconcagua.
“He was climbing for a humanitarian expedition to help raise money for the children of Greece and that’s when I realized I wanted to do this climb for something bigger than myself,” he said. “Human trafficking has always been something that’s bothered me since I understood and learned what it was about six or seven years ago.”
Hopkins said he was further inspired to use his passion for climbing to raise money to help fight human trafficking after hearing an advertisement about Truckers Against Trafficking on Sirius XM’s Road Dog Trucking channel while driving down the road.
He then called Laura Cyrus, an administrator at Truckers Against Trafficking, to help him achieve his goal. Cyrus, who is also a climber, works in TAT’s office in Denver.
“I have to give props to Laura for helping me out with this,” Hopkins said. “When I called, she seemed receptive to the idea and really worked with me to get this project going.”
Mount Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres and is one of the Seven Summits – one of the seven highest mountains on the seven continents.
His goal is to eventually climb Mount Vinson, the tallest peak in Antarctica.
“In order to get down toward Mount Vinson you have to be familiar with South America and the rules and regulations down there,” Hopkins said. “Hopefully, the climb up Mount Aconcagua will be a stepping stone to help me climb Mount Vinson eventually.”
Hopkins said he plans to take the whole month of February 2014 off from trucking for the climb. He said the trek to the summit of Mount Aconcagua and back down should take around 15 days, barring severe weather. Hopkins said he estimates that he will reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua around Feb. 12, 2014, and that donations will be accepted until he reaches the summit.
“It’s time to do something like this – something bigger than myself,” he said.
By JENIFER B. McKIM
New England Center for Investigative Reporting
December 01, 2013 12:06 AM
Click here to see original article
When six men were arrested in a police sting in downtown Boston in the fall of 2012 for allegedly seeking underage prostitutes, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley touted the arrests and released the men’s names and pictures to local media. It was meant to put all potential sex buyers on notice — those seeking girls and women of any age could expect to be treated as criminals, part of a statewide get-tough-on-johns campaign.
Defendants, including a Sharon father of five and a Bellingham engineer, were charged under a new state law that increased fines and jail time for sex buyers and became effective in early 2012. Each man faced a minimum $1,000 fine for attempting to buy sex and up to five years in state prison for seeking to purchase sex from a minor via the Internet.
But a year later, the get-tough talk has proven to be largely that — just talk. Four of the six men have seen their charges reduced, dismissed or continued without a finding. None of them was convicted of seeking to buy sex from minors. No one has received a $1,000 fine. Instead, the steepest fines required one defendant to pay $65 a month in court fees for a year and watch a “john” video detailing the pernicious effects of the sex trade on prostitutes, their customers — and families — and the communities at large.
The lack of guilty findings and hefty fines for men arrested for buying sex is played over and over in courts across the Bay State, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found in a review of court records and interviews with law enforcement and prosecutors. Not one of the state’s 11 district attorney’s offices could cite a case in which a sex buyer received even the minimum $1,000 fine, much less jail time since the law became effective nearly two years ago, according to a NECIR survey.
Instead, the state’s purported effort to go after sex buyers — championed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley as key to fighting human trafficking — is struggling to gain traction, faced with inadequate resources, a lack of knowledge about the law and a long-held resistance to holding so-called “johns” accountable for their role in the sex trade, according to interviews with victim advocates, law enforcement and researchers.
For those who have gotten out of the sex trade — like 30-year-old Adaiah Rojas, who was recruited into prostitution at age 16 — such news is disheartening. Even though Rojas has been out of that world for more than a decade, the Lynn native and youth mentor can’t forget the threats, beatings and insults she received at the hands of sex buyers who were often released by police as she was led off in handcuffs.
“Why protect these men that are cheating on their wives, living double lives, while, me as a minor, I was labeled and put out there to be a horrible person,” asked Rojas. “I was treated as a criminal. I was treated with disgust.”
Sen. Mark Montigny, a New Bedford Democrat who authored the sex trafficking law, said he was “chagrined” to hear that purported sex buyers — especially those allegedly seeking minors — were being treated leniently.
“I’m saying to DAs and cops and judges, when a minor gets involved, it is rape,” he said. “If they thought they were engaging in sex with a minor, severe penalties must be applied.”
Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said many men charged with buying sex receive leniency in the courts because they are first offenders. The agency, he said, will now be more aggressive in instituting fines. The DA’s office examined its practices in response to an NECIR request.
“That changes effective immediately,” he said, referring to the lack of larger fines. “The 2012 law has given us a new tool to drive demand down even further and we intend use it.”
Protect and help victims
Gov. Deval Patrick signed the “Act Relative to The Commercial Exploitation of People” in late 2011, legislation meant to protect and help victims of human trafficking, including thousands of local women and girls believed to have been forced into prostitution in Massachusetts. The law also increased penalties for buyers as well as sex traffickers.
Coakley said the law is still new and there is further work to do to educate law enforcement and the public about the role sex buyers play in promoting sex trafficking. Already, her office has charged 13 people with human trafficking since the law was passed — an option that was unavailable to state prosecutors before last year. A task force she chairs issued recommendations in August to improve efforts to quash demand, including implementing a statewide “john school” and offering more training “to ensure cases are investigated, pursued, prosecuted, and not merely dismissed.
Although law enforcement nationwide has been targeting sex buyers since the 1960s, efforts have come in spurts and starts. The current focus is spawned by the belief that, similar to the country’s war on drugs, prostitution cannot be effectively countered without a crackdown on those who buy sex. Sex trafficking, defined as commercial sex involving minors as well as any forced prostitution with adults, is the “fastest growing industry of organized crime,” according to a 2011 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The problem among U.S. street children is of “epidemic proportion,” the FBI said. Hundreds of thousands of children may be at risk.
Lina Nealon, director of the Cambridge-based Demand Abolition project that focuses on sex buyers, said that despite the growing severity of the problem, society generally looks at men who purchase sex differently from the girls and women who provide it. Women are still arrested more than twice as often as the men who buy their services, according to 2012 state and federal data.
Nealon said she struggles to educate people that prostitution is not a “victimless crime.” Most U.S. women are recruited into prostitution as children and controlled by pimps who keep their money in a trade often described as “modern-day slavery,” she said. If they don’t get out, many women become addicted to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. They are often assaulted by their clients and pimps. Some, particularly from Asia, are smuggled into Massachusetts and forced to prostitute themselves to pay their traffickers.
The profile of the typical buyer of sex is often not unlike that of the police officers, prosecutors and judges they face. At least one of out 10 U.S. men has admitted to buying sex, according to Michael Shively, a Cambridge-based researcher who studies sex buyers. Of the 293 men arrested for prostitution-related charges in Massachusetts in 2012, most were white and ranged in age from 16 to over 65, state data shows. The majority are educated and have formal partners, according to Demand Abolition.
Because of this, many men are still simply let go by police without charges, according to interviews and public records.
In Brookline, for example, police charged a woman and man in October on charges meant for prostitutes and pimps, releasing their names to the media. However, police redacted the name of the alleged sex buyer from police reports, saying the man had not been arrested.
Brookline Police Captain Thomas G. Keaveney told NECIR that the buyer likely wasn’t arrested because he cooperated with police. However, he said the man will be summoned to court on prostitution-related charges. Keaveney said he didn’t agree with the decision to withhold his name. “I can make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he said. “I know we are not protecting this guy.”
In Lawrence, police arrested accused madam Lori Barron in June on charges that she ran a brothel. But so far no clients have been charged although police are still investigating a list of alleged sex buyers, including firefighters, a police officer and city councilors, according to police reports.
“The men are still being let go,” said Audrey Morrissey, associate director of the Boston-based My Life My Choice Project, a nonprofit that works with young sex trafficking victims. “It is very upsetting.”
Despite growing concerns about domestic sex trafficking, the number of arrests for prostitution in Massachusetts and the nation has actually dropped over the last 15 years, according to national and state numbers. In Massachusetts, 2,835 men and women were arrested on prostitution-related charges in 1995 compared to about 944 in 2012, state numbers show.
Shively, who runs a research site called DemandForum.net, said the decline is partly due to the fact that police departments are struggling financially and also because prostitution has largely moved out of the public eye with the help of technology, migrating from street solicitations to online advertising, from public corners to hotels and private homes.
There is frustration throughout the criminal justice system over the lack of legal consequences for sex buyers, Shively said. Law enforcement efforts to go after buyers are hampered by funding constraints, cutbacks in manpower, and a discouraging lack of follow through in the courts, he said. Prosecutors are often less than zealous when they receive cases they know are not likely to be winners. And judges, buried under burgeoning caseloads, must weigh the time needed to try misdemeanor cases when grave felonies demand their attention.
In certain areas of the state, efforts to crack down on johns are having some impact. More than 900 cities and towns across the U.S. have at one time or another pursued buyers, be they by reverse stings, car seizures or what is known as “public shaming,” where men’s identities are released to the public, according to DemandForum. These include New Bedford, Worcester, Boston, and Plymouth County. But impediments abound.
‘Plenty of frustration’
“There’s plenty of frustration to go around when it comes to addressing prostitution regarding adults and child sex trafficking,” said Shively, a senior associate with Abt Associates in Cambridge, a research company that supports DemandForum. “There are clear double standards, clear inequities.”
Across the state, police departments concede that the task of bringing johns to justice is rife with obstacles. Reverse stings, including female decoys, are more complicated and costly than simply picking up prostitutes. Capt. Robert Rufo of the Woburn Police Department says he is concerned about sex trafficking, but the department is overwhelmed by drug crimes.
Rufo also said he gets frustrated when cases fall apart in court. For example, four men arrested in March for buying sex all saw their cases dismissed after each paid a fine of $500, he said.
“I can tell you that of all the arrests, I don’t even recall even testifying in a prostitution case because it doesn’t get that far,” he said. “It’s just a fine, court cost, and a ‘please don’t come back to Woburn.’
In Suffolk County, many men who are arrested on charges of buying sex end up without a conviction, records show. Of 82 men who were arrested for the prostitution-related “sex for a fee” charge in 2012 and through the fall of 2013, nearly three-quarters were able to avoid guilty findings through dismissals, pre-trial probation and other legal maneuvering.
Wark said courts are generally forgiving with first-time offenders. He said even the embarrassment of an arrest can do the job — very few men end up arrested a second time.
Take Richard McIver, a 46-year-old truck driver from Brockton, who was one of the men nabbed in last year’s police sting in Boston. McIver allegedly reached out to a police officer posing as a 17-year-old girl on the online website, backpage.com, police records show.
McIver eventually pleaded guilty to one count of seeking to buy sex and was required to pay $65 a month in court fees for a year. The more serious count of attempting to entice a minor online was set aside as he was placed on “pre-trial probation” for three years. That case will be closed without a conviction if he stays out of trouble.
McIver’s attorney, Elana Mikelus Gordon, said her client denied that he sought out a 17-year-old. She said he’s like many men seeking a paid “escort,” an activity she says is popular with many politicians and public figures who’ve been caught over the years. Nonetheless, she said the stress and embarrassment of the arrest and court case was enough to make him change his ways.
“He wants to forget this ever happened,” she said. “He’s learned his lesson.”
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting (www.necir.org) is a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom based at Boston University and WGBH TV/radio. NECIR interns Michael Bottari, Steph Solis and Sarah Capungan contributed to this report. Contact Jenifer B. McKim at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @jbmckim
More than 100 teens were rescued in sex trafficking raids by the FBI. See the news report..
Truckers Against Trafficking: The Interview
Posted on Apr 23, 2013
We recently met some of the volunteers from Truckers Against Trafficking (“TAT”) at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky. We were inspired by the work they’re doing and wanted to help spread the word.
We talked to Kendis Paris, the Executive Director at TAT, to find out more about the problem of human trafficking and how they are getting truckers to lead the fight to stop it.
CAD: What is “Truckers Against Trafficking?”
TAT: Truckers Against Trafficking is a 501c3 that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize the trucking industry to combat human trafficking as part of their regular jobs. We recognize that truckers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways. This crime literally comes knocking on their door and as such, they are in an incredible position to make a significant impact.
CAD: How and why did you get involved in helping fight human trafficking?
TAT: My mother, Lyn Thompson, came up with the original idea for Truckers Against Trafficking when it began as an initiative of our family’s ministry, Chapter 61. Today, TAT is its own nonprofit and as the Executive Director, I am privileged to work with so many fine members of the trucking industry who truly care about the ways traffickers are exploiting victims along our nation’s highways and want to do something to combat it.
CAD: People don’t often think of the US when they think of human trafficking, but the problem is very real and much larger than most people know. Can you give us an idea of just how big this problem is?
TAT: The Department of Justice estimates that anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 of America’s children are at risk for entering the sex for sale industry every year. And that number does not include foreign nationals or adults. Moreover, in a series of Innocence Lost stings, the FBI identified truck stops and rest stops as one of the places where they found women and children being forced into prostitution.
CAD: One of your goals is to make TAT training material a regular part of training for members of the trucking industry. Are you making progress on that front and if so, what impact is it having?
TAT: Progress is certainly being made as we work with the CVTA (Commercial Vehicle Training Association) and the NAPFTDS (National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools) in order to get these materials into the trucking schools so student drivers are trained with this information before they ever get behind the wheel. We also work with as many safety directors of companies as possible in order to have TAT materials become a regular part of training/orientation. We work with the truck stops as well, so that their employees can be trained to identify potential victims of human trafficking, and make the call to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-3737-888 when they believe it’s going on.
We also partner with the state and national trucking associations in order to get the word out there. And the impact is significant. The NHTRC now ranks the trucking industry seventh in the nation in reporting potential sex trafficking tips. The trucking industry was recognized on the Congressional floor in February, and the United Nations just recognized this work among their 100 Best Practices to Combat Human Trafficking on a global scale. But of course, it’s when you read the stories of girls and women being rescued off of lots, and pimps’ being arrested because of the direct intervention of members of the trucking industry that you know the impact is significant.
CAD: What role can truckers play and why do you see them as being vital in the fight?
TAT: Truckers, and the trucking industry on a whole, are vital in this fight because like no other industry, this crime literally comes knocking on their doors. While truck stops and rest stops are not the number one place domestic sex trafficking is taking place – that is most assuredly online at sites like backpage.com – they can play a significant role in helping to rescue victims in transit. If the trucking industry can become fully trained and united behind this work and really seek out the minors who are working the lot, or those under pimp control, then a lot of loopholes that are now left open to traffickers who perhaps work on a circuit, or are transporting a victim from point A to point B and figure they’ll make some money along the way, will be closed. And so TAT also seeks to work with law enforcement in not only facilitating training, but in our coalition builds as well, where we get the general managers of truck stops in the same room with the law enforcement who investigate trafficking cases on their lots. If we can build a rapport between the two groups, and provide extensive training on what to look for, then it is our hope that a pimp who pulls on to that particular lot will only leave in handcuffs, not with more money in his/her pocket.
CAD: What should truckers be looking for? If they notice something suspicious, what should they do, who should they contact?
TAT: We ask truckers, or general managers, or truck stop employees, that if they ever see a minor working the lot, or suspect pimp control (that car pulls onto the lot and three or four girls all get out and begin to work the row, or a car is parked across the street watching a particular person, or there’s a man who you’ve seen walking around earlier with a young woman on the lot as she goes from truck to truck etc.), then please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 and report what you know.
You should also call 911 when you see a trafficking situation taking place right in the moment and a minor is involved, but we ask that you also call the NHTRC as well for a variety of reasons. First, if no one responds to the 911 call, the folks at the hotline are connected with law enforcement all across the country and they will make sure that your tip does not die. If you are able to get license plates, or the make/model of the vehicle, as well as the description of the occupants (race, sex, age, etc.), or a photograph, that is extremely valuable information that they can turn over to police in your area and also to the FBI. The FBI can then take this information and follow up with it, and investigations have been opened as a result of the information truckers are providing through the hotline.
By calling the NHTRC, this information is also tracked so that we can begin to see a pattern emerge as to some of the hotspots throughout the country. But we also want the trucking industry to begin to get credit for being part of the solution through the tracking process as well, and 911 does not collect that information. So we do ask folks who suspect that this is going on to make both calls. And it is okay to be wrong. The folks at the hotline are there to determine whether this is really a human trafficking case, so if you even suspect that something isn’t right – don’t hesitate to call – because you could be saving a life.
For more information about Truckers Against Trafficking, please visit their website http://truckersagainsttrafficking.org, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. TAT can also be contacted by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelcenters of America Continues Support of Truckers Against Trafficking Through Education Efforts on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
WESTLAKE, Ohio, January 8, 2013 – TravelCenters of America LLC (TravelCenters), operator of the TA® and Petro Stopping Centers® travel center brands, is continuing its support of the Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) organization by helping to educate guests at its travel centers nationwide on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11, 2013.
On Jan. 11, participating TA and Petro locations will offer information to customers about TAT, the fight against human trafficking, and how truckers who are visiting travel centers can help. TAT asks that truckers be aware of the signs of human trafficking and to place a call to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), at 1-888-373-7888, if they suspect an incident.
TravelCenters has led the way in support of TAT in the trucking industry. Since May 2011, the company has been distributing trafficking education and awareness materials at TA and Petro locations nationwide. Additionally, TravelCenters has trained all of its employees on the red flags of human trafficking.
The NHTRC has reported that between Dec. 7, 2007-Oct. 30, 2012, 469 calls were received from truckers suspecting trafficking incidents. More than 200 of those calls were received in 2012 alone, indicating that awareness since TA and Petro have provided support materials has increased.
“With our travel centers situated just off many highway exits, guests at our locations, particularly professional drivers, may be in a unique position to spot potential human trafficking situations. Drivers simply make a phone call if they see a situation that looks out of the norm; truck drivers are happy to help TAT and NHTRC in their efforts to fight human trafficking,” said Tom O’Brien, President and CEO of TravelCenters.
The Owasso, Oklahoma City Council commended Truckers Against Trafficking for its anti-trafficking work at the beginning of its monthly meeting on Jan. 8, 2013. The mayor then read a proclamation stating that, in support of TAT’s work and to help fight human trafficking, Jan. 11-13, 2013 would be Human Trafficking Awareness Weekend in Owasso.
For their work helping members of the trucking industry engage in the fight to end human trafficking, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) and three of its founders have been recognized by national anti-trafficking organization Global Centurion Foundation (GCF) as one of three winners of the 2012 Norma Hotaling Anti-Trafficking Awards.
To commemorate the anniversary of Norma’s passing on December 17th, 2008, GCF offers these three awards paying tribute to Norma’s legacy and recognizing individuals continuing her life’s work.
“Words can’t express the honor of being named a winner of the 2012 Norma Hotaling Award,” said TAT National Director Kendis Paris. “It’s really an award for the entire trucking industry, because they’re the ones on the front lines, recognizing human trafficking when they see it, making the calls and saving lives.”
Norma was trafficked into prostitution as a child and remained trapped in the sex industry for eighteen years, but through sheer personal will, she was able to free herself from the vicious cycle of abuse and exploitation. For the next two decades, Norma dedicated her life to help reach and rescue victims of prostitution and sex trafficking, along with focusing on the demand-side of sex trafficking by developing new programs and policies for men and boys.
“It is an honor to pay tribute to Norma Hotaling’s tremendous legacy by recognizing organizations and individuals who have continued in her life’s work, and we are thankful for the generous donations from so many of our supporters that allow us to recognize these champions in the fight for freedom”, commented GCF President, Laura J. Lederer, J.D.. “Together, we can continue to reach those who have suffered the violence and oppression of modern slavery, we can reduce demand through developing innovative programs and campaigns, and we can focus on developing policy that better protects victims and provides resources to prosecute offenders and prevent human trafficking.”
Every year, GCF grants three $5,000 awards: (1) An award recognizing a Survivor-Centered Service Provider; (2) an award recognizing Innovative Demand Reduction; and (3) the Josephine Butler Award for Abolitionist Policy Development. The three awardees for 2012 are:
Survivor-Centered Service Provider
Tina Frundt, Founder and Executive Director, Courtney’s House
Tina Frundt is a leading figure in the crusade to help children sexually exploited for commercial purposes. Ms. Frundt is a survivor of domestic sex trafficking who now dedicates her life to helping women and children heal from domestic sex trafficking and commercial sex exploitation. After realizing there was no specialized housing available for sex trafficked children in Washington, D.C., Ms. Frundt founded Courtney’s House in August 2008. Since its inception, Courtney’s House and Ms. Frundt have helped over 500 victims escape from being trafficked. Ms. Frundt has testified before Congress about her own experiences and also trains law enforcement and other non-profit groups to rescue and provide resources to victims.
Innovative Demand Reduction Award
Kylla Leeburg, Kendis Paris and Lyn Thompson, Co-founders, Truckers against Trafficking
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a non-profit organization that exists to empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking by providing educational training resources to prevent modern slavery to travel plaza employees, all students of private and public truck-driving schools, and all truck drivers employed via major carriers and owners/operators. TAT also partners with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Josephine Butler Abolitionist Award for Policy Development
Kathryn Xian, Founder and Director, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery
The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS), is a Hawaii-based not-for-profit whose mission is to stop Human-Trafficking in Hawaii and the Pacific. PASS provides services and advocacy for survivors of Human-Trafficking, education and training on the identification of victims of Human-Trafficking, and public awareness and prevention education for the greater community. Under the leadership of Ms. Xian, PASS has also strived to build alliances with public interest legal services, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), churches, non-profit community organizations, domestic violence shelters, educational institutions, and law enforcement to advocate for effective policy to combat human trafficking and protect victims of modern slavery. Ms. Xian coordinated a coalition of NGOs to help educate and advocate for a series of legal reforms including new Hawaiian laws prohibiting promoting prostitution and labor trafficking. This year, PASS is advocating for safe harbor for children along with demand-focused prostitution laws.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 193 calls from callers identifying as truckers between Jan. 1, 2012-Oct. 10, 2012. To date in 2012, truckers rank 14th out of 38 different caller types for all calls. They rank 8th for calls referencing potential human trafficking.
But always remember…
“As we’ve mentioned before, please note that these statistics are based on caller-reported information and are not a statement of fact.”
American Trucking Associations announced Oct. 7, 2012 that it has joined with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to raise awareness about human trafficking among professional truck drivers and the trucking industry and educate them on how they can help fight against the crime.
At a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, prior to the ATA annual meeting, Dan England, ATA chairman and chairman of C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City, said, “There are over 3.1 million truck drivers who travel over 408 billion miles each year. We are asking our motor carriers to include this important information in their training programs and to work with their customers and communities to help combat the problem. These professionals are the eyes and ears of the nation’s highways, and with knowledge and guidance, they can make a big difference and save lives.”
By joining with TAT, ATA hopes to not only raise awareness of this problem, but to educate the industry on what to look for if they suspect a human trafficking incident, what specific information is needed for local law enforcement and how to report any suspicions.
“Truckers Against Trafficking exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize the trucking industry to combat human trafficking as part of their regular jobs…and the trucking industry is responding in amazing ways,” stated Kendis Paris, TAT national director, at the press conference. “Examples of this are the hundreds of calls by truckers to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reporting potential trafficking cases; rescue stories coming in; companies training their drivers; schools showing the TAT training DVD before drivers get their CDL and head out on the road; truck stops training their employees on how to spot human trafficking and then distributing materials from their locations to reach more drivers; loose coalitions forming between law enforcement and members of the trucking industry, so that both are working as a cohesive unit to capture traffickers and rescue America’s children; and state trucking associations working to involve their member companies in this fight.”
She continued, “And today provides even more evidence of the exceptional effort by this industry to stop this heinous crime… with the formal support of the American Trucking Association. We at TAT believe this level of national support will open even more doors and truly unite the industry behind this work. As the eyes and ears, the trucking industry can, and has begun to, deal a major blow to those who would rape, abuse and sell our children for profit along our nation’s highways. With its reach, influence, and ongoing support, the American Trucking Association will make it increasingly harder for traffickers to make a profit out on the road, and will shine a light on this industry as the modern day abolitionists they are.”
When he rose to speak, America’s Road Team Captain and professional truck driver for FedEx Freight Dion Saiz identified himself as both an everyday hero (referring to the TAT poster calling for everyday heroes) and as a trucker against trafficking.
“As we travel the country we see a lot of different things, from cars in distress on the side of the highway to distracted driving,” he said. “Professional drivers like me have a family and want everyone to be safe. Whether it is being safe around trucks or, in this case, being in a safe environment, we’ll do what we can to help end human trafficking.”
Also speaking at the press conference were Elisabeth Barna, ATA vice president, industry and outreach advocacy; Paul Enos, president, Nevada Trucking Association; Lt. Karen Hughes, Las Vegas Metro Police; Nevada Assemblyman John Hambrick; and George Jacobson, senior regional sales representative, TA-Petro.
American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Good stuff. Trucks Bring It!
Starting today through the end of 2012, The Greenbaum Foundation will provide a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for any and all donations made to Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), up to $50,000. Your $10 will be $20. Your $50 will be $100. If we reach $50,000, that will be $100,000.
TAT’s annual budget continues to grow as more and more individual truckers, trucking companies and state trucking associations come on board, and we supply them with materials, including training DVDs, wallet cards, brochures and vent window decals.
In 2011, TAT provided 180,000-200,000 wallet cards and over 7000 DVDs, in addition to posters and vent-window decals. This year, the numbers are even greater, with state trucking associations like California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota coming on board (with others in the process), as well as the Iowa 80 truck stop group, and with the three trucking shows and numerous events and speaking engagements where we’ve handed out materials as well as filled individual requests for materials. And we’ve learned that our DVD is being used for training in 22 foreign countries as well.
In addition to paying for the materials we provide to everyone who asks, TAT also incurs hefty shipping costs, travel costs to speaking and training engagements and administrative costs.
But the money is well spent from the standpoint that:
- The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is receiving more and more calls on possible human trafficking activity from truckers, and a significant percentage of those are actionable items where law enforcement has been involved.
- The trucking industry is beginning to receive excellent publicity for the work they’re doing to fight human trafficking. They’ve already been featured in at least two national television news stories and more are in the works.
- There is a growing awareness among members of the trucking industry about human trafficking and what they can do to fight it effectively.
- What the trucking industry is doing in working with TAT is providing a model for other members of the transportation industry to follow in the fight against human trafficking.
- New liaisons are being created between the trucking industry and law enforcement to engage in the fight against human trafficking together.
“I fund and work with many of the best nonprofit organizations throughout the world,” said Jim Greenbaum, founder and managing director of The Greenbaum Foundation. “Few accomplish so much with so little as does Truckers Against Trafficking. The work and accomplishments of Kendis Paris and her team are awe-inspiring. And, with sufficient funding, there’s no telling how much greater of an impact they will have in the fight against human trafficking. I am delighted to make this matching grant offer for Truckers Against Trafficking.”
Please consider helping us match this $50,000 grant. Share this opportunity with others and make a donation on our website www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com by Dec. 31, 2012.
The efforts of the trucking industry to fight human trafficking by becoming Truckers Against Trafficking have been recognized by the U.S. State Department’s inclusion of the TAT Everyday Heroes poster in the 2012 Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
This report is “the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The U.S. Government uses the TIP Report to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking and to target resources on prevention, protection and prosecution programs. Worldwide, the report is used by international organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations alike as a tool to examine where resources are most needed. Freeing victims, preventing trafficking, and bringing traffickers to justice are the ultimate goals of the report and of the U.S Government’s anti-human trafficking policy.”
The poster can be seen by scrolling down to page 391 at this link: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192599.pdf
Well done, Trucking Industry!!!!
Englewood, CO –Iowa 80 Truckstop, the World’s Largest Truckstop, has joined forces with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to raise awareness about human trafficking among professional drivers and expand its employee training program with regard to this issue.
“The management of Iowa 80 Truckstop has taken a very studied approach to human trafficking and has concluded Iowa 80, as a prominent organization in the trucking industry, can play a pivotal role in the fight against this crime,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT national director. “We are thrilled to have them on board with TAT.”
Professional drivers are encouraged to pick up a TAT wallet card at Iowa 80 Truckstop, which provides red flags to look for if trafficking is suspected, specific information to note for law enforcement and the national hotline number to call with the tip.
Iowa 80 Truckstop also now includes general training about human trafficking and TAT resource materials to all company employees.
“We have always trained our employees to be aware of people in our facility who may need assistance,” said Delia Moon Meier, Iowa 80 Truckstop senior vice president. “Our employees, customers and business partners can all play a role in helping those who need it and save lives.”
She continued, “We’re proud to support TAT’s work and do our part to end human trafficking. The trucking industry is full of caring people who we believe can make a real difference.”
TAT is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating, equipping, empowering and mobilizing the trucking industry to fight human trafficking. Its resources include a website, a trucking-industry-specific training DVD, webinars, posters, speakers/trainers and more. More information is available at www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com.
Brenny Transportation in Minnesota will be fundraising for TAT for the whole month of May! They report that May’s fundraiser committee is the biggest committee they’ve had for any fundraising they’ve ever done! The message is strong here! For their fundraiser, they will not only be raising money, but they’ll be going to truck stops in the central Minnesota area and spreading the word to drivers; advertising TAT’s cause to all carriers and brokers they work with; and helping the Minnesota Trucking Association kick off their efforts for TAT.
Reprinted from ORU News
Human trafficking is a booming business, second only to drug trafficking. While someone can sell a drug only once, a pimp can sell a child for a sex act over and over. There is an estimated 27 million sex slaves today worldwide, more than at any other time in history. The average age for a victim of sex trafficking is age 12 years, and they live an average of seven years after entering the industry. These children are being prostituted on the street, at truck stops and in motels and need to be rescued.
Oral Roberts University’s Branding and Promotions classes are getting real-world experience and at the same time changing lives through a classroom assignment. The students have adopted a client with whom they may practice their newly-acquired skills. That client is Truckers Against Trafficking.
The goal of Truckers Against Trafficking is to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking in a threefold way. First, they work to place in the hands of every trucker in America a wallet card listing indicators of trafficking victims and a rescue telephone number; secondly, have the trucking-industry-specific training DVD made part of orientation for all truck stop and travel plaza employees, all students of private and public truck-driving schools and all truck drivers employed via major carriers or owner/operators; and thirdly, partner with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking.
To help support this worthy organization, students, under the direction of ORU Assistant Professor Chris Putman, are building a promotional package to raise awareness for TAT. Students with clipboards and surveys in hand will conduct research to gather insight on public awareness and opinion, write press releases to gain exposure, design ads and posters, plan guerrilla marketing, create an awareness night presentation and then compile their promotional recommendations into a plans book for the organization to utilize.
Because online presence is key nowadays, the students are posting message updates, pictures and videos of their activities on the TAT Facebook site. Another tactic the class is using to get the word out is to dramatically drive up the organization’s Facebook fans.
“Growing up my parents owned a small motel in El Paso, Texas, where truckers composed a large percentage of our business,” Truckers Against Trafficking Co-founder and National Coordinator Lyn Thompson said. “They were, by and large, good guys. As I reviewed how prevalent human trafficking is along our nation’s highways and how members of the trucking industry are literally everywhere, it made sense to me that they could play a critical role in the fight against human trafficking. With a little help, they could be the abolitionist heroes of the 21st century. In 2009, as members of Chapter 61 Ministries, we started the Truckers Against Trafficking initiative to educate, equip, empower and mobilize the trucking industry in this fight. TAT has grown so fast and received such support that, in 2011, it became its own 501c3 ministry.”
Thompson and two of her daughters, TAT National Director Kendis Paris and TAT Social Media Coordinator Kylla Leeburg, are making a difference. They recently have received permission to place trafficking materials in the 800 TA/Petro and Pilot/Flying J truck stops nationwide.
“What we are asking the trucking industry to do is to become aware of this issue and then act upon it,” Paris said. “These girls need an everyday hero. They [truckers] need to pick up that phone, and make a call that hopefully leads to their rescue.”
Through this outreach, this mother-and-daughter team has aired the story of the kidnap and rescue of two Ohio teens walking to Wendy’s for a snack. The two Toledo minors were kidnapped by a prostitution ring and began servicing men in truck stops right away.
“Here we are, I’m 15 years old and my cousin is 14, at a truck stop working, and we’re forced to go from truck to truck asking the guy if they’d like to have sex with us, and we’re young girls terrified out of our minds,” rescued sex slave Shari said. “It’s awful to think that these truckers are okay with it, thinking this is someone’s daughter.”
But it was a trucker with his eyes and ears open that spotted the underage girls working a truck stop. They are grateful he didn’t brush it off. He made that call.
“Thank God…because this trucker made a call I have an opportunity to have life,” Shari said. “I can actually come back from this.”
So how did the Oral Roberts University Branding & Promotions class become involved with such an unlikely organization? Word of TAT fell on the ears of a university professor who is always on the lookout for a good cause.
“Each year I seek out a nonprofit organization my students can adopt as their client for the semester,” Putman said. “I noticed that many ORU students were incredibly passionate about the human trafficking problem. When I secured Truckers Against Trafficking as this year’s class client, I knew I found an organization my students could believe in and work for with conviction. I enjoy having a real-world organization on which my students can practice their skills, help a credible organization and touch lives all while earning college credit.”
To gain more information on or make a contribution to TAT, log on to http://truckersagainsttrafficking.com/
The complete statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) are out for 2011 with a breakdown of data from truck stops. Some of the highlights include:
- The NHTRC received 185 calls from callers who self-identified as truckers. Over 50 percent of these calls referenced human trafficking tips or crisis cases.
- The most common way calls learned of the NHTRC was via TAT.
- The NHTRC received reports about 79 unique cases of potential human trafficking at truck stops in 2011 — 35 of those contained a high level of critical information and demonstrated key indicators relevant to identifying a human trafficking situation.
- Demographic data of potential victims breaks down as 1 male, 33 females, 7 were adults, 30 were minors, and 17 were US citizens.
- The top five states, in descending order, for location of potential trafficking were Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio.
Two example vignettes include:
While driving through Flagstaff, AZ late at night, a trucker pulled over at a truck stop near the highway. The driver observed a man who appeared to be in his late 30s with a young girl who appeared to be around 13 years old. At first the driver didn’t think anything was wrong, but after observing the man and the young girl approach several other truckers, the driver became increasingly suspicious. The driver spoke with one of the other truckers, who told him the man with the young girl was offering to sell her for commercial sex to the various truckers they’d approached. The driver hadn’t been to this particular truck stop in the past, and he asked the other trucker if he’d seen the man and the girl before. After indicating that the situation wasn’t new, the other trucker explained that, while he was disturbed by what was occurring, he didn’t know what to do with the information. The driver decided to contact the NHTRC, since he’d heard about the human trafficking hotline on a radio spot by TAT. After receiving the driver’s report, the NHTRC reported the information to a federal law enforcement taskforce that works specifically on cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Early one morning, a truck driver contacted the NHTRC to report a situation involving several young girls. A few days previously, the truck driver had been at a truck stop in Arkansas and had observed three teenage girls offering commercial sex. The trucker wasn’t sure of their exact ages, but thought they looked very young. In the past, the trucker had observed women at this particular truck stop offering commercial sex, but this was the first time she’d seen anyone this young. At first, she was hesitant to report the sitaution, but she’d noticed that all of the young girls were picked up by the same van each morning, which she found suspicious. After seeing a newspaper story about human trafficking and hearing a radio commcercial by TAT that featured the hotline number and discussed the issue, she decided to call and report what she’d seen. The NHTRC contacted a federal law enforcement taskforce that works specifically on cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children and provided them with information about the truck stop.