January marked as Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Local task force offers public tips, advice

January has been named National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. 

January has been named National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. 

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January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Worldwide it is estimated that over 40 million people are held as slaves — women and girls, men and boys — through sex and labor trafficking practices.

The Meceola Human Trafficking Task Force, a local task force, encourages all citizens to understand what human trafficking means when trying to decide if they are seeing an instance of trafficking.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended (TVPA), defines the forms of trafficking in persons as:

 • Sex Trafficking: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

• Labor Trafficking: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

NOTE: A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.

The Task Force encourages all citizens to report a suspected case of trafficking by doing one of two things:

1. Contact local law enforcement directly or call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) to report suspicious criminal activity to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

2.  Get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTH can help connect victims with service providers in the area and provides training, technical assistance, and other resources. The NHTH is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

By identifying victims and reporting tips, citizens can do their part to help law enforcement and human trafficking agencies and organizations rescue victims, and maybe save a life.

For more information regarding the Meceola Human Trafficking Task Force, send an email to mhttf2015@gmail.com