The Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement is partnering with the nonprofit group Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to help try and stop human trafficking. Motor Vehicle Division Chief, David Lorenzen, says it’s a natural role for his office, which comes into regular contact with truckers.
“One of the initiatives of our office is to reach out to the motor carrier industry and to provide materials that educate them on the aspects of human trafficking,” Lorenzen says. “We have materials in all 11 of our state scale sites, we work with the highway division to put materials for drivers in the 40 state rest areas, and we’re also continuing to work with putting the materials in the truck stops across the state.”
Lorenzen says they learned of TAT and it’s goal, and thought it was a good fit to work with them. “This effort is something that we feel is important, we feel we can help play a part in it and do what we can to help curb this,” Lorenzen says.
He says enlisting the help of truck drivers is a good way to expand the reach of law officers. “The motor carrier industry are people who are out there every day, 24-seven, 365 days a year they see things where there’s not that much law enforcement out there. They can obviously give us a set of eyes that we don’t have,” according to Lorenzen.
The U.S. Justice Department estimates between 100 and 300,000 American children are at risk to enter the sex trade industry every year. “And that doesn’t even count some of the people who’re being imported from other countries,” Lorenzen says.
“Obviously human trafficking involves that part of it too, and it’s a billion-dollar industry. It’s something obviously that the FBI noticed there’s a lot of these things happening in truck stops and those types of things.”
The FBI held four stings between 2003 and 2009 that targeted truck stops and over 500 children were rescued and millions of dollars recovered. The TAT program began in March 2009.
You can find out more about the program on it’s website at: www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com. The National Hotline number to call and report suspected human trafficking is 888-373-7888.