SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
According to the International Labor Organization, there are nearly 21 million people victims of human trafficking. To put that in perspective, that’s in comparison to the population of Florida.
U.S. Attorney Law Enforcement Coordinator Dan Drake is sounding the alarm on the need for public awareness.
“It’s not only sexual it’s also labor and domestic,” Drake said. “You may not realize you are in the presence of someone who is being held as a human slave in a restaurant or in a grocery store.”
Drake says Savannah is a hub for human trafficking because of its location to interstate highways, state border lines, tourism, military presence and seaport.
In 2013, a sting called “Operation Dark Night” brought down an international trafficking ring and rescued 12 survivors. Five years later, Drake says the fight isn’t over.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is reach the law enforcement on the street. The patrol officers, grown persons, to let them know if you find something that you think is a young prostitute look at it more than just a prostitute.”
Physical dominance or markings on the body can be a sign of trafficking.
Drake says no demographic of society is immune. People of all ages, races, education levels, incomes and zip codes can become victims.
If you are interested in learning more how to spot trafficking, you are inviting to attend the Savannah Traffick Jam on January 20 at Savannah State University. It is free to the public and law enforcement will also be present to train as well.
Professions of all kinds, especially teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, day care providers and hotel staff, are encouraged to attend.
There is no sign up ahead of time. You are encouraged to sign up on the day of the event. Programming begins at 8:00 a.m.