New Texas law could help truckers identify human trafficking

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) There are over 300,000 people currently being trafficked in Texas, according to the Truckers Against Trafficking. Now, state lawmakers are looking at a bill that could help fight human trafficking.

Texas Senate Bill 128 would require drivers applying for commercial driver’s licenses to complete a training program about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

"Traffickers like to brand their victims as property, so if they have a man's name or a street name tattooed on them in various places or a dollar sign or a money bag, those could be things to look for," Natalie Garnett, the Assistant National Coordinator at local anti-trafficking organization Unbound, said.

She said because of Waco’s location along the I-35 corridor, the city is a target for sex trafficking, and truck stops tend to be prime locations where traffickers take victims.

"The thing with truckers is they're carrying their beds with them," Garnett said. “Traffickers usually take victims around truck stops because there’s a plethora of possible buyers and customers.”

Truck driver JT Morris said, "One of our drivers had another driver from a different company approach him wanting to know if they'd seen any working girls around."

Truckers Against Trafficking started the training program, and since they began training drivers, truckers have made over 1,500 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, resulting in the rescue of over 1,000 victims, 299 of which were minors.

"We have seen victims at truck stops that were clearly underage. Truckers have the ability to be eyes and ears like others can't," Wilson said.

With the help of truck drivers, the law could help save more victims.

"I know there are good people out there who are truck drivers and giving them the opportunity to champion this could both help abate the demand among drivers, and lead to the rescue of victims," Garnett said.