Two women who formed a group in central Iowa to fight human trafficking say an arrest for the crime at an Altoona truck stop shows the importance of remaining alert for the crime.
Linda Pierce is the co-founder of “Newton Says No to Human Trafficking” and says she has witnessed what she thinks was human trafficking along the interstate. “This girl who was wearing high-heeled boots, a miniskirt, a white fluffy coat… and she was running as fast as she could down the interstate. I just thought that she was a runaway — but now I realize she was probably running from her pimp or her john,” Pierce says.
Pierce says she saw another potential case at a local store and now regrets she didn’t do more. The other co-founder of the group, Lynn Keller, says the effort to publicize human trafficking and the fact that it does happen in Iowa have increased awareness.
“But I still think that people need to become more aware and also be aware of the possibility that it could happen anywhere, any time,” Keller says. The women say the goal of “Newton Says No to Human Trafficking is to let people know what to look for and what to do if you see a situation that looks like human trafficking. Keller if something doesn’t look right, you should call 911 and report it. “The absence of normal is kind of the key to remember when thinking about human trafficking and possibly seeing it happen,” according toe Keller.
You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. The hotline says Iowa saw 74 reported human trafficking cases last year. That number has grown every year since 2012. Experts say the growth is partly due to increased awareness for the signs of trafficking, but also because it’s easier than ever for traffickers and their clients thanks to the internet. Again. A Des Moines man faces human trafficking and other charges in the Altoona truck stop case.
(By Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)