JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the Florida Highway Patrol set up a special operation.
FHP officials said people don’t usually realize the work they do under the radar to prevent human trafficking. This month, they are sharing what they know with the many truck drivers traveling on I-10.
“These guys travel millions of miles and stop and go to places we never get to go and they see a lot more,” FHP Public Affairs Officer Jason King said. “They’re able to identify the signs of human trafficking quicker than we can, based on their travel, and they can report and that’ll help save lives.”
This special operation calls for many routine stops over a three-day span that began on Tuesday.
Troopers are ensuring vehicles are operating in accordance with federal motor carrier standards, checking trucks for unauthorized passengers and handing out informational cards in case someone has seen something suspicious.
“For a person to be riding in a commercial vehicle, there has to be an authorization letter on file with the carrier that authorizes this person to be in the vehicle with the driver,” FHP State Trooper Bobby Simmons said.
Stops can take from 15-45 minutes depending on the “stop level.” Level three stops are the shortest and are utilized when there’s only a driver in the car.
Simmons said the vehicles they pull over are completely random. While state troopers didn’t find any signs of human trafficking during the first two days of their detail, they did spread awareness to many drivers.
There are red flags troopers look for to identify human trafficking.
If someone seems restricted or controlled when they try to talk, then they might be a victim. Also, talking over the radio about a “commercial company” is sometimes code for human trafficking.