Truckers Against Trafficking are the Good Guys on the Ground

Big Patriotic Rig by Tony Alter

Image from Tony Alter at Flickr Commons

Mark Brown has been involved in the transportation industry since 1971. He drove a truck for 31 years.

Once, when he was at a truck stop in Bakersfield, California, a young girl approached his truck.

“I was doing some paperwork and just happened to notice this young lady going from truck to truck to truck. Finally, I heard somebody knock on my door. So I put the windows down, looked down, and I see her standing there. I got out and shut the door. She said, ‘You want a date, buddy?’ And I said, ‘No . . . I have one question for you.’ And she said, ‘What’s that?’ And I said, ‘Why are you doing this?’

“Because I was concerned. She probably looked 14, 15 years old, I really couldn’t tell her age, but she was very young.

“She said, ‘Just look around the corner of the truck there, down there, you’ll see that Cadillac down there. That’s why I do it.’

“When I looked down there, I didn’t see anybody in the vehicle, but I knew what was going on. And when she walked away I got back in the truck and I sat there and thought, ‘Why don’t I just go walk across the parking lot and call the police?’ Well . . . I didn’t do it. And for 30-some years, that has really bothered me to the point that I feel . . . I feel that if people was aware, just get involved, it doesn’t take that much. It’s nothing but a simple phone call.”

That comes from the Trucker’s Against Trafficking training video. Mark is now a safety instructor for Truckers Against Trafficking, and works to educate people in the transportation industry in how to recognize and respond to human trafficking.

Because trucking is the perfect complement to the human trafficking industry.

It’s perfect in several ways. First, at truck stops: You’ve got interstate truckers who won’t be stopped for long, who will never see these girls again. Fifteen minutes or so of what they see as low-consequence sex, and they’re on their way. They never have to think about it again.

Second: Girls enslaved by pimps aren’t always kept in one place. They’re often sent along a trafficking circuit from city to city. This means they never get very familiar with one place or group of people, so it’s hard to form alliances and look for help. It also means the johns in a certain city are consistently supplied with fresh faces and new girls.

And these girls are sex slaves. This is not the “Pretty Woman” kind of prostitution we’re talking about here. FBI Supervisory Agent Evan Nicholas, who works with the Crimes Against Children Unit, said:

“Violence goes hand in hand with these types of cases, and it’s used to break down the girls, to gain complete control over them. So I don’t think there’s any real willingness of these child victims . . . The youngest child we’ve recovered is nine. The average age is 13 or 14 . . . The life expectancy of a child involved in prostitution is 7 to 9 years.”

When a trucker transports a person from place to place, he becomes a trafficker. Trafficking is often committed by a loose network of people—the recruiter, the pimp, the enforcer who terrorizes the girls into submission, and the people who transport victims.

If you transport a trafficking victim, “You are no different than the captains and the crews of the slave ships that brought the slaves from Africa to the plantations to live their lives in chains.” (—Kirsta Melton, Assistant Criminal District Attorney, Bexar Co. TX., Family Justice and Victim Protection Unit)


The Good Guys

There are lots of nasty truckers out there. But it’s not all truckers. Most truckers are good people. That’s what Truckers Against Trafficking is founded on.

If the trucking industry is the perfect complement to the trafficking industry, it’s also in the perfect position to make a huge positive impact.

As Mark Brown said, “Truckers are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, and [they] see what others cannot and do not.”

Truckers Against Trafficking has distributed thousands of informational wallet cards to truckers across the nation. The cards list indicators that someone might be a trafficking victim, and include the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Truckers Against Trafficking’s mission, as stated on their website, is:

  • Make the TAT training DVD, wallet cards (and other materials) a regular part of training/orientation for members of the trucking industry so that when they suspect human trafficking is taking place they can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-3737-888 and report what they know.
  • Partner with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking.
  • Marshal the resources of the trucking industry to combat this crime.

Great, but does it actually work?

One trucker’s call brought police down on a highway exit truck stop where he saw girls working. Law enforcement were able to rescue 8 minors, convict 31 offenders, and shut down a forced prostitution ring spanning 13 states. All that from a single phone call made by a guy who sensed something wasn’t right.

Don’t you just love good people like that?

I especially like stories like this, because it reminds me that the good guys don’t have to wear capes. The good guys aren’t in the air somewhere, way out there. They’re down here on the ground, getting things done.


L. Marrick is a fiction writer and freelance copywriter. 50% of proceeds from her book Working Girl, a memoir of her time working for a professional escort, go to sex trafficking non-profits. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @LMarrick.

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