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Sunline Transit is trying to disrupt human trafficking in Coachella Valley with new awareness campaign

Sunline

It's a call to action that Sunline Transit Agency hopes will help disrupt human trafficking operations throughout Coachella Valley.

"Some human traffickers use the bus to transport their victims. You can play a critical role in fighting this crime, and you could be just the lifeline a human trafficking victim is hoping will recognize the situation they are in." Sunline has posted on their website. "Be a disruptive force in human trafficking routes of those being coerced into labor or sex trafficking."

"Watch for the signs... You may be the lifeline for a victim."

Now, Sunline Transit Agency is launching a new six-month campaign they are calling a "call-to-action" for anyone witnessing possible human trafficking. The goal is to increase awareness of the signs of human trafficking. You might see these messages inside and outside of busses, in bus shelters, in print publications, and on local television stations.

Human trafficking is the force, fear, and coercion to compel another person into commercial sex acts or labor trafficking against their will.

Sunline is hoping the campaign will make it harder for traffickers to hide in plain sight.

“Human trafficking isn’t something that just happens in big cities or at the border – it exists right here,”  Investigator Aron Wolfe with the Riverside County Sherriff’s Department said in a statement. “If everyone can be more aware of their surroundings, any one of us can be a disruptive force in the human trafficking routes of those being coerced into labor or sex trafficking.”

MORE: Task force arrests 13 men in La Quinta prostitution sting

Sunline has also partnered with the Coachella Valley Coalition Against Human Trafficking to conduct training with the Agency’s bus operators and safety team members.

“SunLine is committed to creating awareness on this critical issue in order to prevent and disrupt human trafficking systems,” said Lauren Skiver, CEO/General Manager of SunLine Transit Agency. “This initiative will reach many thousands of people in our community, informing both our riders and the general public regarding the prevalence of human trafficking and how to help if someone recognizes a situation that could be an incident of human trafficking.”

WATCH: I-Team Exclusive: An inside look at the team fighting child exploitation in Riverside County

https://youtu.be/8ju8dKhyY6A

If you are in immediate danger, contact 911.

Sex Trafficking signs, provided by Sunline

Red Flag Indicators:

  • Average age of victim is 15 years old
  • Higher Risk: Homeless, runaway youth, LGBT+, person facing addiction or the vulnerable
  • No stereotype – all walks of life

High Risk Victim Commonalities:

  • Runaways or truants
  • Past sexual and/or physical abuse
  • Drugs and/or alcohol abuse
  • Need for love & acceptance
  • Exploitation starts as a minor

Recognizing the Signs:

  • Those looking disheveled, scared, anxious or in the company of someone else who appears controlling
  • Individuals with someone who tells them not to speak
  • Those who have their IDs and money held by someone else
  • Individuals who may not know the exact place they are going
  • A regular rider who may have a change in behavior

High Risk Victim Indicators:

  • Unexplained wealth
  • Multiple cellphones
  • Criminal history
  • Tattoos that may be a pimp’s moniker or symbol
  • Victims often use terms like “Daddy” or “Papi” – or refer to their controller as their boyfriend

If you witness a situation that seems like it may be an instance of sex trafficking, report it by calling 1-888-373-7888, texting BeFree to 233733 or going to by “live chat” at https://polarisproject.org/.

More resources

Call: For immediate assistance, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can reach the Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in more than 200 languages. All calls are confidential and answered live by highly trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates.

Report Online: Submit a tip online about a potential trafficking case.

Email: Send an email to help@humantraffickinghotline.org.

National Human Trafficking Hotline National Human Trafficking Resource Center Get Help Report Human Trafficking Human Trafficking Information & Resources

KESQ News Team

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