GALLIPOLIS — Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which criminals profit from the control and exploitation of others.
The same Ohio roads that are used legitimately are also used by human traffickers and smugglers to transport their victims and further their operations. Ohio State Highway Patrol officials say they are committed to combating human trafficking in Ohio and have taken new steps this year to rescue potential victims.
According to OSHP, human trafficking takes two primary forms — labor trafficking, which involves compelling people to provide labor or services, and sex trafficking, which involves forcing individuals to perform commercial sex acts. Both use force, fear and coercion to keep victims working against their will. Both types occur in Ohio.
Just in 2015, law enforcement agencies across Ohio reported 102 human trafficking investigations. This led to 104 arrests, 33 successful prosecutions and the identification of 203 potential victims.
Below is a list of OSHP’s efforts to stop criminals from exploiting trafficking victims in Ohio:
• As truck stops are one of the leading areas where sex trafficking occurs, OSHP partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking to ensure that trucking schools in Ohio will be required to provide one hour of human trafficking awareness training for students obtaining a CDL for the first time. Truckers will be taught in the class to recognize the signs of human trafficking at truck stops.
• OSHP has trained troopers to identify signs of human trafficking during traffic stops. In addition, state employees have been trained to identify, confront and prevent human trafficking, which was an objective of the Governor’s Human Trafficking Task Force.
• Ohio Investigative Unit agents have been trained to identify signs of human trafficking while they conduct routine operations in liquor establishments.
To report a trafficking tip, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline Resource Center at 888-373-7888 or text BeFree to 233733. The toll free number is available anywhere in the US, 24/7. The hotline received calls from Ohio regarding 303 potential human trafficking cases from 2013-2014, making Ohio the sixth highest total for potential cases reported among the states.