It is state fair time again, and there’s a lot of good that comes with that. But there can often be a major downside as well.
It’s a business that preys on the large crowds and chaotic scenes. That’s why Truckers Against Trafficking is stationed at the state fair this year.
“Anytime you have an influx of people or a crowd of people there’s more of a chance of those things going on,” said Sgt. Mike Rader of Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement.
The reality of human trafficking often goes unnoticed.
“Some people are reluctant to go into the trailer at first. They’re not sure what it is and we tell them it’s just educational, it’s informative,” Rader said.
The Freedom Drivers Project showcases truck drivers that are against human trafficking, all while telling the stories of victims who’ve survived.
“It’s kind of this touch point of saying, this is a real person. You own sandals, i own sandals, she owned sandals, like this is someone that you can identify with that went through this circumstance,” said Helen Van Dam of the Freedom Driver Project
But for Patty and Mark Lang this project hits close to home.
“It’s always been on our minds even before what happened with Mollie Tibbetts coming up disappearing. It’s a real thing out there. We’ve heard about it along I-80. We heard that Des Moines is a big hub for it, and we’re so naive sometimes that we just don’t realize it,” said Mark Lang.
The couple is from Brooklyn and wore their t-shirts with Mollie Tibbetts on them to spread the word.
“We’re from a small town and you don’t think of think of things like that happening in a small town,” said Patty Lang.
Just like we’re looking for Mollie,” said Mark Lang. “Any tip might lead to a discovery of her or if you see something that might look unusual, it’s just hard to believe that you might be saving somebody’s life.”
They’re hoping parents use the time looking at this project to educate their families.
“It’s something that all parents need to do, don’t take anything for granted,” said Mark Lang.
“We always think it’s some place else, but it can happen anywhere,” stated Patty Lang.
The hotline for human trafficking received over 200 calls and 74 cases of human trafficking reported in Iowa.