How truckers are coming together as a community to fight human trafficking

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-20 17:52:38-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project made history Wednesday by hosting a first-of-its-kind mobile exhibit aimed at shedding light on the grim realities of human trafficking. The exhibit, which traveled to Richmond for the first time, seeks to educate truckers and the general public about human trafficking and ways to combat the issue.

Lining the walls of a specially designed trailer are powerful artifacts provided by survivors of human trafficking, allowing visitors to connect with the deeply personal nature of this problem while also highlighting the importance of prevention efforts.

Brandy Belton, a representative of Truckers Against Trafficking, showed CBS 6 a CB radio from one driver used to call for help and save lives.

"His story here goes along to say that it led to the arrest of 31 victims and broke up a trafficking ring across 13 states just by him making that phone call,” said Belton.

Truckers Against Trafficking has trained more than 1.6 million professional drivers to recognize the signs of trafficking and take action. Truck drivers, in particular, are well-positioned to help, as they often find themselves in locations like truck stops, rest areas, parking lots, hotels, and motels where trafficking may occur.

"They really take the training to heart,” said Scott Golden of Performance Foodservice, who hosted the trailer at their new Hanover facility. “They feel like they're out making a difference in their community by recognizing the signs of this growing issue.”

Recent data showed that in 2021, 199 trafficking victims were identified in Virginia, with a staggering 13,000 victims identified nationwide. The deeply personal and devastating impact of this crime is why Truckers Against Trafficking encourages everyone to learn to recognize the indicators.

“I’ve seen adult men come out in tears because of these stories because it does touch the heart. You are dealing with people who have families,” said Belton.

The exhibit serves as a powerful reminder that human trafficking is not just a statistic; it is a brutal injustice to individuals with families and dreams. The commitment of organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking, along with the dedication of truck drivers and the wider community, offers hope for a future without trafficking.

“If anyone sees anything, we just ask that they say something. Even if you make the call and you don’t know what is going on is actually human trafficking, we’d rather somebody be wrong than it could possibly be a situation. You never know when that one call could help recover a victim and help bring them home to their family,” said Belton.

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