Truckers Against Trafficking helps Utah truckers spot victims on the road

Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project, a semitractor-trailer equipped with training resources that travels around the country to educate truckers, law enforcement and the public about trafficking, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Truckers Against Trafficking, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A recent training conference conducted by Truckers Against Trafficking brought together the state Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Trucking Association to discuss best practices in successfully detecting and investigating human trafficking crimes with the help of the the trucking industry.

Truckers Against Traffickers Freedom Drivers Project, a semitractor-trailer equipped with training resources that travels around the country to educate truckers, law enforcement and the public about trafficking, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Truckers Against Trafficking, St. George News
Truckers Against Trafficking Freedom Drivers Project, a semitractor-trailer equipped with training resources that travels around the country to educate truckers, law enforcement and the public about trafficking, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Truckers Against Trafficking, St. George News

“Trafficking has been recorded in all 50 states in a variety of venues,” Truckers Against Trafficking Coalition Build Specialist Esther Goetsch said. “So, everywhere from hotels and motels, casinos, parking lots, truck stops to business fronts.”

Truckers Against Trafficking has partnered with every state trucking association in the country in order to educate truckers and truck stop workers about human trafficking.

“The unique thing about drivers is that they are everywhere at all hours of the day and night and that’s why they’re such critical folks to be trained to recognize these signs,” Goetsch said.

Truckers are trained to look out for red flags that indicate trafficking, including signs of branding or tattooing, talks of quota or “daddies” and signs of pimp control, such as fearful interactions, not making eye contact and lacking personal identification.

“Certainly, the most obvious sign that we want people everywhere to know is that any minor selling commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking under federal law,” Goetsch said.

The program has been successful in fielding tips about trafficking victims and putting away criminals.

One such success story involves a Conway truck driver named Kevin Kimmel whose training allowed him to spot suspicious activity leading to the rescue of a victim and the arrest of two traffickers.

Kevin Kimmel drives a truck for Conway. His training allowed him to spot suspicious activity leading to the rescue of a victim and the arrest of two traffickers, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Truckers Against Trafficking, St. George News
Kevin Kimmel drives a truck for Conway. His training allowed him to spot suspicious activity leading to the rescue of a victim and the arrest of two traffickers, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Truckers Against Trafficking, St. George News

Kimmel was at a truck stop and saw an RV that didn’t look typical. As he observed the situation, he saw a man enter the RV, and a commotion ensued. A young woman attempted to look out the RV window when the curtain was hastily closed.

Kimmel called local law enforcement, and they were able to rescue the young woman who was reunited with her family. The two traffickers are now in prison for forty years.

Truckers Against Trafficking provides numerous resources for trucking industry employees, including a wallet card with information about how to spot possible trafficking and the number to an anonymous 24-hour tip line. This and other resources can be acquired through the Utah Trucking Association or the safety director of almost any trucking company.

We want every driver out there trained,” Goetsch said.

The organization also runs the Freedom Drivers Project, a semitractor-trailer equipped with training resources that travels around the country to educate truckers, law enforcement and the public about trafficking.

The project garnered a lot of interest and praise when it stopped in Utah this fall, Goetsch said, and it will likely make its way to the state again soon.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • .... December 12, 2016 at 5:14 am

    This is absolutely fantastic news and I’m sure this will result in a positive reaction from the community and I would like to thank all those involved in making this possible.

  • Wolverine December 12, 2016 at 8:35 am

    What a GREAT idea! I commend them for going to the Truck drivers that are in the thick of traffic day and night, in and around so many various public places. I love truckers, they’re the cogs that make our country’s goods available to all of us. I try to be extra considerate in traffic with them, they’re basically driving a locomotive on wheels and it takes a highly skilled, aware person to operate one safely. This is such a great idea. I think that other entities need to offer this training to the public as well. It would be great for all of us to know the signs of what to look for.

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