Iowa Gets On Board With "Truckers Against Trafficking"

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/13/2013

The Iowa D-O-T's Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement is the latest force to partner Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT)- the non-profit organization that was established to stop human trafficking and rapidly gaining momentum with trucking industry allies.

Trafficking statistics

Motor Vehicle Division Chief, David Lorenzen, says it's a natural role for his office, which comes into regular contact with truckers. Lorenzen says they learned of TAT and it's goal to combat human trafficking with the people most likely to encounter it - the truck drivers who are the eyes and ears of US highways. Lorenzen thought it was a good fit for the DOT to work with the organization and says enlisting the help of truck drivers is a good way to expand the reach of law officers.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are at risk to enter the sex for sale industry each year. That estimate does not include the 17,500 foreign nationals trafficked into this country each year, many of these also end up in the sex trade. According to the U.S. DOJ, human trafficking is a $32 billion a year industry, the second most lucrative crime in the world. Nationally, four stings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation between 2003 and 2009 targeted truck stops, where more than 500 children were rescued, millions of dollars recovered and perpetrators arrested. 

The Iowa DOT became involved in the issue when the Iowa Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, initiated a working group to aggressively address this issue in Iowa. Chief Lorenzen participates with this Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative. Iowa DOT's Office of Motor Vehicle law enforcement officers have been trained on the issue and informational materials for professional drivers are now available in all state scale sites. In addition to the materials being placed at scale sites, posters will be hung and handout material available in all of Iowa's interstate rest areas. In addition, the Iowa DOT is working with the Iowa Motor Truck Association to visit with truck stop operators to have materials placed in their facilities.

The TAT program began in March 2009 as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking industry of the critical role they can play in fighting one of the most lucrative and destructive crimes in the United States and globally.

Today, TAT is its own 501c3 organization and has been recognized by national anti-trafficking organization Global Centurion Foundation (GCF) as one of three winners of the 2012 Norma Hotaling Anti-Trafficking Awards. TAT provides a full website of information that includes trucking industry specific training DVD, webinars and Human Trafficking 101 classes; train the trainer classes and presentations; the printing of wallet cards truckers can carry with questions to ask, red flags to look for and the National Hotline number to call if trafficking is suspected (888-373-7888).