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Human trafficking a priority for Ohio State Highway Patrol

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COLUMBUS – 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.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) is committed to combating human trafficking in Ohio and took new steps this year to rescue potential victims.

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 and 130 suspected traffickers.

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.
  • The Ohio State Highway Patrol 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 work with liquor permit premises on how to spot human trafficking.

To report a case of potential human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. This toll free number is available anywhere in the US 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Submissions can also be made via text messages to the BeFree text line at 233733 as well as online at traffickingresourcecenter.org and through email at nhtrc@polarisproject.org.

From 2013-2015, the NHTRC hotline received calls regarding 592 potential human trafficking cases from Ohio, making Ohio the fifth highest total for potential cases reported among the states.

View OSHP’s bulletin on human trafficking awareness statistics and the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s video on human trafficking to learn more.

As always, the Patrol asks drivers to call #677 to report impaired drivers or criminal activity.

This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal