Missouri was among the top 10 states last year for the number of defendants it prosecuted in human-trafficking cases, according to an annual report.
The Human Trafficking Institute’s 2019 Federal Human Trafficking Report looks at data from every federal human trafficking case U.S. courts handle each year. Its findings provide a summary of how the federal system holds traffickers accountable for exploitative conduct, according to its authors.
Missouri is fortunate, said Nanette Ward, a co-founder of the Central Missouri Human Trafficking Coalition, in that prosecutors here decided several years ago to focus on disrupting human trafficking in Missouri. There was a time, Ward said, when Missouri led the nation in the number of federal cases being processed.
In more ways than one, Missouri acts as a crossroads in the center of the country, she said.
“We have conditions that occur everywhere,” she said, “such as child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and hits on the child welfare system.”
On top of that, the state has multiple north/south and east/west highways that pass through.
“We have all the makings of trafficking being possible,” Ward said.
Trafficking happens everywhere, she pointed out, but added that agricultural and tourism industries are major supporters of Missouri’s economy. Either industry could lead to instances of forced labor.
In 2018, Missouri lawmakers approved House Bill 1246, which combats human trafficking by requiring placement of posters containing resources to assist victims in many public buildings statewide.
The posters contain a national hotline number, 888-373-3888. Victims can also text 233733 (BEFREE) to the number or visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center website at traffickingresourcecenter.org.
The hotline is available 24 hours per day, confidential and accessible in 170 languages.
To read the full story by Joe Gamm on The News Tribune: Click HereTags: Missouri, National Human Trafficking Hotline