‘No more’: Human trafficking awareness campaign coming to Craig
Human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is happening in every corner of the country, and officials say Moffat County is no exception.
“We’ve seen human trafficking victims here in our own community,” said Craig Police Department Sgt. Cory Wagner at a Craig City Council meeting Tuesday, April 23. “The most common type of trafficker is a family member.”
At Wagner’s request, the city council officially declared May “No More” Human Trafficking Month.
Human trafficking — the use of force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims into enslaved labor or commercial sexual exploitation — is one of the most profitable crimes worldwide, second only to drug trafficking, generating billions of dollars in profits and enslaving millions of people each year, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.
In keeping with May’s theme, a six-day mobile human trafficking awareness campaign, with stops in and around Moffat County, will kick off May 1 at Craig Middle School.
A 44-foot educational trailer, presented by Lafayette-based nonprofit Global Connection International, will be parked at a number of locations throughout the first week of May to educate the community of dangers of human trafficking.
“When the topic of human trafficking comes up, most people in a community like Craig immediately think of ‘Red Light Districts’ in places like Cambodia, Thailand and India,” Global Connection International’s news release said. “But the facts are clear and the sale of human beings for sex and slave labor is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world today… It can happen to anyone, anywhere, even right here in our community.”
Glenda Bellio, president of Moffat County Farm Bureau, said she was shocked to learn about the human trafficking epidemic and wanted to bring a greater awareness to the community.
“I realized how much I didn’t know and how big of a problem it really is,” Bellio said. “And I figured if I didn’t know that, then there were a whole lot of other people who didn’t know it either.”
A mother of two, Bellio said she was disturbed to learn traffickers frequently gain access to young children, typically ages 12 to 14, through a common form of technology — smart phones.
“The scary part is that parents are handing their kids the thing that is the most common way to get them sucked in,” she said.
Global Connection International’s mobile educational exhibit will be at the Craig Middle School parents’ night from 6 to 8 p.m. May 1 at CMS; May 2 at CMS; 9:30 to 10:20 a.m. May 3 for a Moffat County High School assembly; May 4 at the Downtown Business Association Spring Expo; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5 during the Great American Horse Drive in Maybell; and 6 to 7:30 p.m. May 5 at The Journey at First Baptist.
Each event is free and open to the public.
“It’s not the black van that drives up, grabs a kid and kidnaps him,” Global Connection International CEO Jim Weber said. “That’s in the movies, it can happen, but it’s very seldom. It’s this network of coercion and fraud and social media where they get these kids. That’s why we want to approach this at the front end, because your chances of getting rescued are 1 in 100.”
“If we can keep it from every happening by getting a few basic facts out there to families and kids on what not to do and how to use social media safely, then that’s huge.”
For more information on Global Connection International visit gciworld.org. If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 911 or the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Moffat County residents were in a giving mood Friday, Sept. 13 as they turned out to Yampa Valley Bank to help Moffat County United Way kick off its 2020 campaign.