On November 3rd, the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a coalition building seminar presented by Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking industry, community, and law enforcement to combat domestic sex trafficking.  Accompanying the representatives from TAT will be an interactive exhibit called the Freedom Drivers Project.  The exhibit will be open to the public from 10 A.M to 2 P.M. at the Yuma County Fairgrounds, and the Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage community members to come participate in the unique experience.

The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) is a first-of-its-kind mobile exhibit that is a premiere tool in educating members of the trucking industry and general public about the realities of domestic sex trafficking and how the trucking industry is combating it.  From its outside wrap, to the climate controlled interior, which includes a theatre station, actual artifacts from trafficking cases that connect people to the back stories of so many who end up enslaved in our country, to portraits of the real Truckers Against Trafficking and how each is working to end human trafficking, this trailer provides many with their first glimpse into human trafficking, as well as simple action steps anyone can take immediately walking out of it.

The Freedom Drivers Project is a small segment of the coalition building seminar that the Sheriff’s Office is hosting.  The Sheriff’s Office has invited representatives of local law enforcement, city and county government, the District Attorney’s Office, Yuma County schools, hospitals, hotels/motels, and other business that provide services to truck drivers to participate in the coalition building seminar.  Additionally, the training is open to other neighboring jurisdictions along with a personal invite from TAT to all of the truck stop service stations within a 200-mile radius.

The coalition building seminar being presented by TAT is the first of its kind, with a focus on bringing together community organizations with the intention of coming together as a single alliance to combat human trafficking.  Organized by the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office’s Victims’ Advocate Program Coordinator Ana Baucke, this seminar will be a model for future seminars hosted by TAT nationwide in the near future.

Modern-day slavery, or human trafficking exists whenever people are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex.  Around the world, there are an estimated 20.9 million slaves today.  Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

While illegal, human trafficking is a booming business.  Traffickers recruit out of our schools, online, in shopping malls, as well as the streets and other locations.  A large percentage of the people trafficked are women and children.  Many of them are used in the sex industry.  “I’m pleased to host this event,” says Sheriff Chad Day.  “This is a subject that hasn’t historically received much attention, so I’m glad to bring in some resources for local law enforcement to be exposed to some of the latest information that will assist in what signs to be aware of.  Highways 34, 385, and 36 are highly traveled truck routes, so we are not immune to the possibility of these kinds of crimes and cases.”

For more information about Truckers Against Trafficking and the Freedom Drivers Project, click on the photo at the top of this page to be taken to their website.