RICHLAND, Miss. (WJTV)– People in Richland got a closer look at human trafficking by hearing from investigators about their cases and advocates working to stop the violence.
The community learned all about human trafficking red flags.
They watched and listened to a video made specifically about human trafficking in Mississippi. It’s a scary reality. As a parent, Cheramie Mitchell worries, and that’s why she came out Tuesday night to First Baptist Church.
“It’s a real concern in our state in our area, and I think more awareness needs to be brought to it and as well to know what we can do and how to spot signs for it and to intervene and help in anyway we can,” said Mitchell.
Sandy Middleton, the executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention, says her organization works with five operational task forces set up across the state, made up of investigators and prosecutors.
“The Center for Violence Prevention now has rapid response advocates all across our state that are assigned to each of our task forces so that law enforcement can have somebody there that’s a victim advocate on the scene to assist in screening and also help find a place for that victim,” said Middleton.
Last fiscal year, those advocates responded to 97 victims. Middleton says human trafficking has no boundaries.
“The criminal element can hide out because they’re not suspected in a small community and so a lot of times that’s what they do,” said Middleton. “They hide out under the cover of just being in a rural area.”
One myth is that human trafficking is a violent kidnapping. Advocates say that’s not usually the case. Recruiters use cyber-trolling, what’s called a lover-boy approach, and they often paint the picture of a better life.