Nevada Truck Drivers Join the Fight Against Trafficking

by Jana Ritter - Published: 7/23/2013

The Nevada Trucking Association is asking its members to be the “eyes and ears of the road” in hopes of saving someone from captivity. They are asking members to educate drivers during safety training or orientation with a video that outlines the problem of sex trafficking and how they can help stop it.

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Truck drivers travel main freeways that connect commerce from city to city. Those same roads are traveled by criminals in illegal trades such as trafficking drugs, weapons or humans held against their will. Not only are truck drivers witnesses to much of this potential illegal activity, they are often propositioned directly. “Truck stops are known to be frequented by prostitutes”, said Paul Enos, Nevada Trucking Association chief executive officer.

“A lot of our drivers thought that those people who were knocking on the door to their cabs were in a voluntary situation,” Enos said. “What came to our attention is that a lot of those people who are working the truck stops or working big events, they're being forced into sex trafficking.

“Because our drivers are in their cabs, on the highways, out in the truck stops, they have the ability to see a lot of these things, so we felt it was incumbent on us to educate our members so they could educate their drivers on the signs of what to look for if they think somebody is being held against their will and being sex trafficked,” he said. Enos hopes the campaign might also give a truck driver pause before he decides to have sex with a prostitute.

In a forum hosted by local business Western States Propane, General Attorney Catherine Cortez Masto commended the association for its “Truckers Against Trafficking” campaign. Masto, who stopped in Elko to participate in the forum and later spoke at the Soroptimist lunch on the topic of sex trafficking, sponsored a bill that passed the 2013 legislative session aimed at combating human trafficking.

The bill establishes sex trafficking as a criminal offense, makes victims eligible for assistance and allows victims to sue their traffickers. Pandering — commonly referred to as pimping — is already illegal, as is prostitution outside of licensed brothels. Sex trafficking is more organized, Masto said, with force as an element of the crime.

“Our first step is the training that's necessary,” she said. Her office is organizing a law enforcement and prosecution training. Training will also help law officers identify victims of a crime often “hidden in plain sight,” according to the attorney general's office.

Signs that someone is a victim of sex trafficking include seemingly scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction, lack of official identification, living at place of employment, or being forced to be quiet or kept separate from other people.

A national human trafficking resource center hotline can be called toll-free to report suspected trafficking at 1-888-373-7888.