Identifying human smuggling/trafficking warning signs

Local News

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Deputy Investigator, Joe BukoviCh of the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Department says, “A lot of it does go undetected. Often times it’s hard to identify.”

Human smuggling and trafficking often happens behind closed doors. However, while we may not see it, authorities say it happens often.

Outreach coordinator for the Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Bernadette Rixner says, “It happens everywhere. It’s not just in the big cities, it’s not just in Sioux city, it’s in the rural areas too.”

According to the U.S. State Department, somewhere between 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Of which, 80% are female and half are children.

“It’s not just broadcasted, it’s a hidden activity,” says Rixner.

But even this hidden activity has it’s warning signs.

BukoviCh says, “Somebody who looks scared and uncomfortable, somebody who looks like they may be looking to get away or escape, in general, anything that just doesn’t seem right.”

Authorities also say to look for someone who shows signs of abuse like burn marks, bruises or cuts. Also, someone who is unable to answer simple questions about where they live. And if you see these warnings, always report it.

“We should all be looking be aware of our environment and be willing to do something if we see something that doesn’t look right,” says Rixner.

BukoviCh says, “The best thing is to always call law enforcement. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. We’d rather respond and find there is no problem than to not get called and later on find there was a problem.”

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