DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s the second largest illegal world industry behind drug trafficking and local groups want the public to know how to spot the signs that someone in our midst has been enslaved through human trafficking.
Lori Blaker is the president of the Detroit chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women.
“The UN estimates that it’s a over a $150 billion industry a year,” Blaker told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.
She says a large part of the slaves are in the sex industry, like a Birmingham woman who got caught up about 15 years ago as a teenager.
“She was slipped the date rape drug and boys took advantage of her they took pictures and then human traffickers then used those pictures to basically hold her hostage,” says Blaker. “They said if she didn’t cooperate, they’d publish them.”
Blaker says there are many ways victims are lured into trafficking; through internet scams, promise of a modeling job or other opportunities. “Migrant farm workers that come in – they can be legal, illegal immigrant with the promise of a better world, a better future.”
Khalid Walls with ICE says they could be in nail salons, or even working as janitors.
“The tell-tail signs are going to be — does this person have freedom of movement can they go and come as they please – are their identity documents being controlled — I think the main thing is control,” said Walls.
Training sessions taking place throughout the day in Waterford for agencies learning to identify signs of trafficking.