The Wayne County Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaborative group of community stakeholders led by selected Wayne County leadership with the sole purpose of bringing awareness to Human Trafficking and reducing the occurrence of the illegal practice within Wayne County.
The Task Force includes partners from the following Wayne County Departments, Federal, State and Local law enforcement organizations along with community organizations and groups. The current core members include leadership and subject matter experts from the following entities:
- Wayne County Executive's Office
- Wayne County Public Works Department
- Wayne County Juvenile and Youth Services
- Wayne County Public Health Division
- Federal Bureau of Investigation - Detroit Office
- Sanctum House
Human Trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for labor, services, or commercial sex. The Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000* and its subsequent reauthorizations define human trafficking as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
County specific numbers and the impact is hard to measure and pinpoint locally as the practice spans across the region. Many survivors are transported or change locations often. However, we know the following:
- Human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry and growing
- Human trafficking affects every community in Michigan across age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background
- In 2019, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline received 48,326 individual trafficking-related contacts
- Last year, nearly 1,000 contacts to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline came from Michigan, identifying more than 800 victims,153 traffickers and 62 trafficking businesses
In order to make change and help reduce the occurrence of this crime, it is important to know how to identify Human Trafficking. Here are some things to look for:
General evidence of being controlled:
- The person is accompanied by a controlling person
- The person does not speak on their own behalf
- The person is rarely allowed in public.
- The person is not able to keep money earned.
Signs of Sex Trafficking - Medically
- Poor health
- Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, pelvic pain and traumas
- Urinary difficulties
- Pregnancy resulting from rape and prostitution
- Infertility from chronic untreated STDs
- Unsafe abortions
- Serious dental problems
- Bruises, scars and other signs of physical abuse and torture. (Sex trafficked victims are often beaten in areas that will not damage their appearance, like their lower back or bottom of feet)
- Substance abuse problems or addictions.
Tattoos are being used to mark human trafficking victims:
- Human trafficking victims may be marked with tattoos identifying them by their pimps and traffickers.
- Scan markers or bar code tattoos are common.
- The tattoo indicates that the victim is considered a piece of property and increases the psychological bondage.
- Deprivation of food, water, sleep or medical care.
- Victims ask permission to eat, sleep and to go to the bathroom.
- Locks on doors and windows so victims cannot get out.
- No identification
It is best to observe and report as not to endanger the victim or yourself. Try to learn as much information as you can without injecting yourself into the situation and causing undue or unnecessary harm. Well intentions can lead to unintended outcomes.
To report suspected instances of National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) or get help if you are a victim please contact the NHTH, call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).
By identifying victims and reporting tips, you are doing your part to help law enforcement recovery victims, and you might save a life. Law enforcement can connect victims to services such as medical and mental health care, shelter, job training, and legal assistance that restore their freedom and dignity. The presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.