Myths About Traffickers

June 27, 2011 
Teaneck, NJ - It is easy to assume that human traffickers are the people who hide from the public and avoid "everyday" people. Like the "johns" buying girls are average American adult males, traffickers are everyday people too. There are more and more examples of seemingly innocent people who are found to be involved in some of trafficking.

A 68 year old college professor and father of three was arrested last week on over 40 counts of [...]

promoting sex trade. The physics professor, who also had a background in computer software, created the sophisticated site in his spare time. He ran it out of Santa Fe, NM, where he had his vacation home.

It was not apparent to those around him; one of his students said: "I never got that creepy vibe from him; He was very friendly and very willing to give of himself to help a student, very willing to give his time."

With his computer background, the professor established a website that catered to people around the New Mexico area. The website allegedly had three level of ratings for johns (buyers): probation, verified and trust. 

"In order to get off probation you had to sleep with one of the sex workers on the website and she in turn would tell the moderator what acts occurred, how much they paid and any comments," a police officer on the case said. "That opened you up to verified status. Once you got into verified status that opened you up to different girls available. Then, some would e-mail the moderator, `This is the act, this is how much he paid, these are my comments about it.'"

While many of the university students expressed their shock at what their professor was doing, there is a lesson in this story.  More and more often, we are finding people who you lead seemingly normals lives, who are involved in one form or another in the crime of Human Trafficking.  They have seemingly normal lives, have regular jobs, and no one would have thought they would have any kind of involvement in this hideous crime. 

Human trafficking isn't always something that happens in the dark, often it is something that happens involving ordinary people. An adult driving children in a a car might look harmless, until they are found to be trafficking them somewhere. When you see children and adults traveling together on a plane, it is hardly questioned, when in reality, many traffickers travel with their victims on planes. By acting normal and blending themselves in with everyday people, traffickers are able to conduct much of their business in plain site. Something we might be trained to think as "normal" could be an adult forcing someone into trafficking.  It should be noted that when children are being transported, often they are drugged and sedated to keep them from breaking their cover or calling for help or making an attempted escape.

Though it is not useful to be paranoid of every situation, it is important to be aware of the signs that a minor may be involved in trafficking:
  • Malnourished
  • Stunted Growth
  • Branding or tattoos
  • Runaway/homeless
  • Doesn't know what city/state they are in
  • Poorly formed or rotted teeth
  • With an older, controlling person
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact
  • Bruises on body, often covered with makeup
  • Use terms common to the sex industry; sexual situations beyond their age
  • Improperly dressed for their age and for the weather
  • Appear to be sedated during travel(on places, cars, etc)
The best way to spread the word about what is happening all over our country is to stay informed and aware of human trafficking and who it might be involving in your community. Watch for strange or unusual activity if you suspect someone is involved in trafficking, and watch for the signs that a minor is being forced into trafficking.

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