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Combating human trafficking

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado hosted the Imagine Conference Oct. 19. Attendees received education on modern-day human trafficking in the local community and also learned how they could assist in this effort. Nine speakers, including a trafficking survivor spoke at the conference and provided the Colorado Springs community with valuable information.

Human trafficking is occurring in the United States and tips from community members have helped in the apprehensions of hundreds of traffickers throughout the nation.

Victims are recruited from almost anywhere. Stories were shared of victims being recruited from outside church youth groups, schools, while on vacation or while waiting tables. Trafficking is also occurring online, in farming and ranching communities and massage parlors. Labor trafficking involving minors has occurred in situations where the victim is forced to sell items such as magazines near grocery stores or community centers. Victims are often given a quota to be met by their traffickers and are subjected to emotional and physical abuse if demands are not met.

Recognizing the signs of this activity can help prevent victims from further abuse. The average age of children being introduced to trafficking is 12 years to 14 years old. Traffickers offer these minors a promise for better opportunities and tell them the money they make will be more than they can find in their local community. If you notice a minor engaging in relationships with much older men or women, wearing much more expensive clothing or accessories and losing interest in school or extracurricular activities, then you may be noticing behavior of a child that has been trafficked.

As a member of the Colorado Springs community, you can assist the victims of this crime by reporting trafficking activity. Contact 21st Security Forces Squadron Investigations at 556-7060 to report trafficking behavior.

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