UPS Freight has announced that they are going to work with non-profit Truckers Against Traffickers (TAT) to train some 8,000 of their road haulage drivers to spot and respond to signs of sex slavery across the US. Drivers have the task of delivering goods to all sections of every community and therefore regularly notice things to which occasional visitors may be oblivious. Rich McArdle, president of UPS Freight, said in a statement:
“UPS Freight is in a unique position to help identify traffickers and trafficking victims by educating our drivers and management on this epidemic impacting our local communities. We are proud to take a stand in fighting human trafficking and look forward to working with Truckers Against Trafficking on this initiative that will save lives.”
The training program is one that TAT offers to any drivers or freight companies that are interested in trying to help with this issue. With it thought that there are hundreds of thousands of slaves in the US alone, many of whom are forced into prostitution, the organisation says that:
“Truckers Against Trafficking recognizes that members of the trucking industry and individual truckers are invaluable in the fight against this heinous crime. As the eyes and ears of our nation's highways, you are in a unique position to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our transportation system for their personal gain.
“Young women and children are being forced into prostitution. Innocent victims are regularly moved from point-to-point just like your product and merchandise. These victims are relying on you. With one simple decision, you can help put an end to domestic sex trafficking along America’s roadways.”
Before TAT existed, only sporadic tips were being reported by the trucking industry, but now its members have made over 1534 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Centre, generating 471 cases of sex trafficking involving 1033 victims, 285 of those minors, making members of the industry one of the most important intelligence sources in America in fighting trafficking.
The usefulness of truckers being aware is highlighted by the case of Kevin Kimmel, a trucker who in January 2015 saw and reported suspicious activity around an RV at a truck stop he was resting in. The police found a kidnapped girl inside who had been tortured and been forced to have sex with buyers that her captors found on Craigslist. The couple, who had taken the girl on Christmas Eve, received forty years in jail each such was the severity of the abuse they had committed.
Anyone who does have information regarding a trafficking victim should call 1-888-373-7888, text HELP or INFO to 233733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.