SAN ANTONIO — As Texas continues to ramp up its efforts to combat human trafficking, truck drivers will be an integral part in detecting suspicious activity, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday as he highlighted the partnership between the state and a pair of trucking associations.
Speaking outside of San Antonio’s Public Safety Headquarters about the the state's collaboration with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association, Paxton noted that the approach will allow for more eyes across the state to look for possible trafficking.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery,” Paxton said. “My office has made it a priority to combat human trafficking.”
He said the partnership helps educate truck drivers on the signs of human trafficking and how to report it. Paxton added that such a focused effort will help ensure that victims will be identified and rescued, and that traffickers will be punished.
The collaboration, which began in fall 2015, is just one facet of the attorney general's efforts focused on human trafficking. In January, Paxton also announced a new unit in the attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Truckers Against Trafficking, a registered nonprofit group created in 2011, educates and trains truck drivers across the country to report possible cases of human trafficking they spot at truck stops and motels. San Antonio is the fourth Texas city the group has visited.
Because there's no statewide or national tracking of trafficking victims, most information on trafficking comes from victims or survivors making reports.
There have been 307 cases of human trafficking reported in Texas this year, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Calls from victims and survivors accounted for 198 calls made to the center.
The trucking industry has accounted for more than 1,400 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center since the inception of Truckers Against Trafficking, according to Kendis Paris, the nonprofit's executive director.
Truck stops are just one of the places drivers may see suspicious activities, Paris said. Drivers should be aware of their surroundings in hotels, city streets and bus terminals.
“It certainly does happen at truck stops, but they’re only one of the places,” Paris said. “People have been propositioned in any kind of parking lot.”
Truckers Against Trafficking also drives a mobile unit to cities across the country, which serves as a resource for truck drivers and the community to learn about human trafficking. Survivors’ lipstick, sandals and dog tags hang on the walls of the trailer to raise awareness about the danger victims face. The mobile unit was available to San Antonio community members for the day.
Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood office commended Paxton’s efforts to fight human trafficking by partnering with the trucking group.
“This is a wonderful way to show how community policing works – bringing in partners from the community, people who are in the trenches, on the front lines to be our eyes and ears for law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies,” LaHood said.
Read more coverage about human trafficking in Texas:
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced a new unit in his office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
- Under a new state law, law enforcement officials will be able to take children suspected to be sex trafficking victims immediately into protective custody instead of waiting for a court order. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.