Tips can help uncover human trafficking

Mattresses on a business floor and workers unable to provide identity papers can signal modern slavery.

Federal authorities team with police to combat human trafficking in Missouri and Kansas but the crime is often well hidden and tips can help uncover it, officials said Wednesday.

Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney in Kansas City, said a team that includes the FBI, ICE and Department of Labor works with Kansas City police and police in Missouri and Kansas.

She and Supervisory Special Agent Heith Janke and Kansas City Police Sgt. Brad Dumit spoke to the city council public safety committee.

Janke said it is hard to compile accurate statistics on human trafficking because the crime is so hidden.

Women and children are brought in for sex and people are brought in for domestic servitude or forced labor that at its worst amounts to slavery, they said.

Dumit said one reason people are hearing more about trafficking is “we’re getting better and smarter at identifying it.”

Dickinson said, “One thing we can do is education – recognizing victims when you see them and notifying law enforcement.”

Janke said the FBI provides training that can be helpful, especially for code enforcement workers, first responders and emergency room nurses.

The training takes from 30 to 90 minutes, he said, and those who want it can call 816-512-8200.

ICE lists a series of things that could signal human trafficking:

  • Does the victim possess identification and travel documents? If not, who has control of these documents?
  • Did the victim travel to a destination country for a specific job or purpose and is victim engaged in different employment than expected?
  • Is victim forced to perform sexual acts as part of employment?
  • Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
  • Does the victim owe money to an employer or does the employer hold wages?
  • Did the employer instruct the victim on what to say to law enforcement or immigration officials?
  • Can the victim freely leave employment or the situation?
  • Are there guards at work/harboring site or video cameras to monitor and ensure no one escapes?
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement? Can they freely contact family and friends? Can they socialize or attend religious services?


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