Everyone can play a role in combating human trafficking. However, some of you may be more likely to spot signs of trafficking because of your place of work. According to the Polaris Project, 75% of survivors that contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported using or being around hotels at some point during their trafficking situation. Contrary to widespread belief, trafficking doesn't only happen in cheap hotels. Traffickers are more likely to use hotel franchises that meet all their needs, such as location, comfort, lack of law enforcement monitoring, and infrastructure. In addition to hotels, 63% of survivors also utilized mass transit and public transportation, and 38% traveled by plane. Lodging and transportation aren't the only industries affected. Trafficking is also common during large-scale events and festivals.
Arizona's tourism industry is a robust one. There are more than 500 hotels and 40 expansive resorts in Phoenix alone. The Valley is also a year-round destination for sporting events, conferences, music festivals, and more, attracting tourists and, unfortunately, traffickers. People who work in these industries may have more opportunities to spot the signs of a trafficking situation if they know where to look.
These are just some of the many signs that can indicate this crime is taking place:
- Room rental is not normal. The room is rented hourly, for less than a day, or an extended stay. In certain circumstances, a room might be booked for one night but extended day by day
- One person reserves multiple rooms and does all the talking, controls the money, and identifications
- Hotel, flight, or transportation is paid with cash or pre-paid debit card
- Individual has little knowledge of past or current whereabouts, length of stay, and answers with a scripted story
- Individuals bring few personal possessions but have multiple computers, cell phones, credit card swipers, and other payment technology
- Unusual interactions with staff; request services such as extra towels and linens but denies staff entry to room; someone is frequently monitoring a hallway or door; there is increased foot traffic to room
- Individual shows signs of submissive behavior, malnourishment, poor hygiene, fatigue, are dressed inappropriately and are being monitored
- Car is regularly parked backward, so the license plate is not visible
Your safety in these situations is also essential, so exercise caution before interfering. If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, don't hesitate to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or call law enforcement if the situation warrants it.
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