January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol has released some key information as it pertains to human trafficking.

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Per a release on the highway patrol's Facebook page, "As many as 24.9 million men, women and children are sold into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other forced labor around the globe."

WHP reported that people driving up and down the highways and byways of America are more likely to see crimes of human trafficking. Because of this, they said, awareness is critical and knowing what to look for and how to respond to these situations is essential.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is launching a new, annual, three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, of which the WHP is a part. The initiative is designed to provide awareness and outreach efforts that will educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers, and the general public about human trafficking, signs to be on alert for, and what to do if you suspect that somebody is being trafficked.

"Human trafficking has been proven to be a growing problem in the US and Wyoming," said Wyoming Highway Patrol Commercial Carrier Lieutenant Dustin Ragon. "This is why the Wyoming Highway Patrol is assisting in the Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative to bring more light and gain assistance from the public and commercial drivers to reduce the occurrences."

The Wyoming Highway Patrol stated that men, women, and children of all ages and backgrounds can become victims of human trafficking. It happens everywhere. They stated that human traffickers "often use violence or fradulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.":

They said that human trafficking is a crime that happens "in plain sight."  Because of this, it's important to know the warning signs of somebody that appears to be a victim of human trafficking (especially women and children). Those signs, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, are as follows;

  •  Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Working excessively long hours
  • Living at a place of employment
  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males and referring to those males as a boyfriend or "daddy," which is often street slang for pimp
  • Poor physical or dental health
  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck or lower back
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Small children serving in a family restaurant
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment - barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone or speak for themselve

All of these and more are signs of human trafficking, so the next time you're embarking on a road trip, keep your eyes open. Like the saying goes, if you see something say something.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney is certainly saying something.

"Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day," she wrote on her own Facebook page. "The growing problem in Wyoming and across the country is a crisis, and we must work together to end it."

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