TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Police and other organizations are stepping up outreach efforts as January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.
Southern Arizona Against Slavery said it’s holding presentations around the community and trying to get the word out on social media.
President Maggie Bellino said it’s a time to make people realize that it’s happening around the world, including here in southern Arizona.
“It’s absolutely under the radar, unreported crime. So we just want to make sure that people know what they’re looking for and where to direct these individuals if they come into contact with them,” Bellino said.
She said January is also a time to prepare ahead of next month’s gem show.
“Definitely when the gem show is in town. We see victims of trafficking brought in to serve those that are coming in. … So we know in Tucson that’s a time when we try to prepare ourselves to be better responsive to victims’ needs,” she said.
Tucson police said while it didn’t see an influx of reports during last year’s gem show, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t happening. The department said it’s a tricky crime to track and often goes unreported.
TPD is part of a special task force in partnership with CODAC called SAATURN. The team fights human trafficking year-round but increases efforts about one week before gem show season.
Volunteers and officers go to hotels along the freeway and near places like the airport to handout information packets to staff so they can be on alert.
Officers are also given a refresher so they can be on the lookout while on patrol.
TPD said January is a time to spread awareness to stop human trafficking in our community.
The task force is hosting an awareness event for parents and their kids. Click here for more information.
Here are some red flags provided by SAATURN: https://www.facebook.com/events/531429427355515/permalink/531430247355433/
- Poor health and the inability to seek care for health concerns
- Visible injuries such as bruises, scars, or burns
- Visible tattoos that could be branding marks
- Carries excess amounts of cash
- Has hotel room keys
- Unable to leave their home or work without approval
- Exhibits fear, anxiety, and/or depression
- Has false identification or multiple forms of ID
- Seems unfamiliar with their surroundings
- Has distrust for authorities
- Does not know their home address
- Allows others to speak for them when addressed directly
Click here to learn more: http://www.sacasa.org/about-trafficking/