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Human Trafficking Awareness Day is this Saturday

Jan 03, 2020 08:00AM ● By Editor
Cook County Connections by Sheriff Pat Eliasen - January 3, 2020

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is cognizant of human trafficking and takes the reports and subsequent investigation of such crimes very seriously. We work with many different agencies to share information, conduct joint investigations, provide training and educate the public on
signs of trafficking. We provide a Deputy Sheriff to work with the TRUST (Tribes United against Sex Trafficking) Task Force which conducts investigations across the State of Minnesota and focuses on reservations and casinos. The work done by this task force has led to many arrests and continues to implement public safety strategies for preventing trafficking in the communities we serve.

If you observe a situation where you think signs of trafficking are present, please call the Cook
County Sheriff’s Office at 218-387-3030, or if it is time sensitive, call 911.

Facts About Human Trafficking:
  • Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, as countries of origin, transit or destination - or even all three.
  • Trafficking often occurs from less developed countries to more developed countries.
  • Most trafficking is national or regional, but long-distance trafficking does occur.
  • Sexual exploitation (e.g., sex trafficking) is by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking. It is the most visible. Other forms of exploitation are under-reported.
  • A disproportionate number of women are involved in human trafficking both as victims and as culprits.
  • Most trafficking is carried out by people whose nationality is the same as that of their victim.
What Is Considered Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking can be broken down into three primary elements: what is done, how it’s done
and why it’s done — the act, the means, and the purpose.
  • The purpose of human trafficking is always exploitation.
  • The methods for trafficking in persons include abuse of power, deception, coercion, and threats of or use of force.
  • The actual act of trafficking is done through the recruiting, transporting, harboring, transferring and receiving of persons.
Each of the three elements is spelled out in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. This United Nations Convention,
adopted in 2003, established the formal worldwide definition for human trafficking.

Trafficking in Persons [is] the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of
persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Human trafficking may involve the illegal movement of persons across country borders, it may
include a smuggling component, but human smuggling only becomes trafficking if deception,
coercion, abuse of power and threats of or use of force are used to hold people against their will
for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation.

Indicators of Human Trafficking:
Recognizing common signs that a person is possibly a victim of human trafficking is an
important part of helping save lives. The following indicators compiled by the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security are often present in cases of human trafficking; however, the presence of
an indicator isn’t proof someone is a trafficking victim. And not all the indicators are always
present in human trafficking cases.
  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person exhibited a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  •  Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

How Can I Help?
People who fall prey to sex traffickers need help. Awareness of potential sex trafficking
signs―and knowledge of how to help―can save lives. Many people and businesses are in the
position to recognize these signs. For example, healthcare officials are among the most likely
community members to come in contact with trafficked individuals.

What Should I Do?
If you encounter a child or adult who may be trafficked, here’s what you can do:

1. Call 911, the police, or the sheriff if anyone is in immediate danger.
2. Contact the appropriate Safe Harbor Regional Navigator. Information for each regional office
is available on the Safe Harbor website.
3. Call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to Polaris Project’s
BeFree Textline at 233733.
4. Many trafficked individuals are in need of shelter and resources. If you are a landlord, you
may be able to help by providing shelter. Other people may be able to help by making a
charitable donation to organizations that help trafficked individuals. Before making any
charitable donation, you should check the reputation of the organization on the Minnesota
Attorney General’s website at


Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Retrieved from
days/human-trafficking-awareness-day.htm. 2019.
MN Attorney General’s Office. Retrieved from
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved from
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