CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The number of human trafficking cases is growing nationwide. As of November of last year, the FBI was actively investigating 1,900 possible human trafficking cases across the country.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Transportation Department announced a series of efforts to stop human trafficking in the public transportation sector, with plans to train 1 million employees across the country on spotting the signs and calling for help.
A lot of times traffickers try to blend in, using all forms of transportation to move their victims.
The federal government is now stepping in to get people like airport agents, rideshare drivers and truckers trained to spot victims and get them help.
It's the dark side of travel in our country.
“America’s roadways, railways, airways and waterways are being used to facilitate this modern form of slavery,” Elaine Chao, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation said at a press conference.
The department is vowing to help put the brakes on human trafficking.
Victims often encounter transportation workers at a crucial time. The government encouraging companies to train employees to work as a mobile army to help police identify and recover victims.
“Detection, deterrence and disruption are the top 3 strategies being deployed in the transportation sector,” Chao said.
They're working with Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that’s been training on this for years, responsible for calling in tips on 660 potential cases of human trafficking.
They say part of the mission is to create a cultural shift, so people pick up on things that may be out of place and start to think they could be talking to a possible victim.
Charlotte is wedged between major highways and has an international airport. The FBI gets a lot of tips on human trafficking here, but they say that doesn't necessarily mean it's a hub. Even so, federal officials are urging transportation workers to take a second look.
“The transportation sector is in a unique position to help save victims of human trafficking from unimaginable suffering abuse and despair,” Chao said.
UPS and FedEx have also trained their drivers to spot the signs of human trafficking.