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Nevada Highway Patrols calls on truck drivers to help fight human trafficking

Las Vegas in top 10 cities with highest trafficking cases in U.S.
Posted at 11:13 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 19:33:02-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The City of Las Vegas ranks ninth among cities in the United States that have high numbers of human trafficking cases, which prompted the Nevada Highway Patrol to launch an anti-human trafficking campaign.

“We are reaching out and hoping to educate and encourage our commercial truck drivers to assist us in locating and saving human trafficking victims,” said Trooper Travis Smaka.

SIMILAR: Human trafficking task force arrests 5 during vice operation in Las Vegas

While the national average of trafficking cases sits at 71% percent based on a 2017 study, the State of Nevada's average is a staggering 89%.

Since Las Vegas serves as a transient city, NHP is calling on truck drivers to be on the lookout. Their job requires them to cross state lines, which has made the commercial trucking industry an underground network for many traffickers.

SIMILAR: Federal charges and arrests made in recent human trafficking takedown

“There’s only so many of us [state troopers]," Smaka said. "We [Las Vegas] have a lot of traffic coming in and out and we’re looking to especially focus on rural areas, state lines, truck stops, rest areas."

"If somebody sees something that just doesn’t look right, please call star-N-H-P and see if we can prevent this horrible crime from occurring,” he added.

SIGNS OF POSSIBLE HUMAN TRAFFICKING

If you're not quite sure what trafficking looks like, Smaka says there are a few tell-tale signs.

"Signs to look out for to see if someone’s been trafficked are very similar to the signs that you would see if someone’s been kidnapped," he said.

Smaka says to look for:

  • The person is hesitant to interact with people, avoiding eye contact
  • Someone is answering on their behalf
  • There are signs of physical abuse

The Nevada Attorney General's Office also has a thorough list, which can be found on ag.nv.gov. Some of the signs listed there include:

  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Poor physical or dental health
  • Appearing malnourished

NHP offers a course called Truckers Against Trafficking specifically geared towards truck drivers and how they can spot and report the crimes.

The agency is urging truck drivers around the valley to look for those signs of human trafficking, especially when traveling along our major interstates.

Call star-N-H-P to report suspicious behavior.