TravelCenters fights human trafficking with Homeland Security

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, December 18, 2014

Human trafficking has been a pervasive issue on the nation’s highways and interstates. In an effort to combat human trafficking, TravelCenters of America have teamed up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign.

Launched in 2010, the Blue Campaign tackles the issue of human trafficking through enhanced public awareness, training, victim assistance and law enforcement investigations, according to the DHS website. Public awareness efforts are achieved through partnerships much like their most recent with TravelCenters.

TravelCenters will be using DHS Blue Campaign awareness materials inside its facilities, TravelCenters’s Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Tom Liutkus told Land Line. Awareness posters discussing human trafficking activity and what to do when someone sees suspicious activity or a victim will be displayed in areas visible to truckers.

DHS training material will soon be available to TravelCenters employees. Earlier this week, TravelCenters’s Training Department met with DHS officials to discuss which materials will be best to train staff on human trafficking. DHS training material will supplement human trafficking training already being received by employees through Truckers Against Trafficking.

“We are determined to lead our industry in this fight,” Liutkus said. “We were the first truck stop chain and trucking organization to join Truckers Against Trafficking, and we’re happy to lead this time in joining Blue Campaign.  The more we know and learn, the better we all are in helping end this heinous crime.”

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, more than 16,000 calls were made to the help center between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. Nearly 4,000 cases were reported in that same time frame. Of the types of trafficking reported, sex trafficking led with 2,740. Labor trafficking was a distant second at 634 reported cases. More than 80 percent of victims are female, and of the cases where ages were known more than 30 percent involved minors.

To report suspicious human trafficking activity or get help from federal law enforcement, call 866-347-2423 or submit a tip online at ice.gov/tips. More information on the DHS Blue Campaign is available at dhs.gov/blue-campaign.

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