Victims of human trafficking get moved around on the same roads the rest of us are using every day. So maybe a little more awareness on our part could help put a stop to some of the modern-day slavery happening around us.
That's the idea behind a new campaign that involves putting up posters at more than 40 highway rest areas around Minnesota. Information on those posters will give travelers tips on how to recognize trafficking and a hotline to call to report any suspicions they have.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced it Wednesday, with Commissioner Charlie Zelle noting that Minnesota has the third highest total of human trafficking cases in the U.S.
The transportation industry's involvement
Zelle signed a pledge earlier this year promising that MnDOT will work with partners around the transportation industry to help end human trafficking. That means training MnDOT employees to recognize the signs, educating the public about the problem, and working with victims and law enforcement to help stop it.
The U.S. Department of Transportation started a "Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking" campaign a few years ago. It includes different educational posters geared toward highways, public transit, and airports.
No one knows how much money is made by people who exploit others for sex or labor. But the Department of Homeland Security says it's probably in the billions.
MnDOT has a page that lists some red flags that could help you realize that someone you know is being exploited.
A Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force includes several committees working on tackling the problem from different perspectives.