Human trafficking is said to be the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, and Mississippi is no exception. In fact, with the intersection of I-55 and I-20 in central Mississippi, our state has become a hub for human trafficking. But trafficking is not found only along the interstate and in big cities; the state’s many rural areas provide ample places to hide victims.
Human slavery occurs in many forms. Traffickers lure vulnerable teens into their operations, move victims across interstates and highways, use hotels for their business, and hide victims in rural areas. Labor traffickers exploit individuals who are desperate for work or seeking a new life. Addicted parents sell their children for drugs. Gangs promote the illicit business of sex trafficking because, unlike drugs that can be sold only once, people can be sold multiple times a day.
Currently, Mississippi has one shelter for adult victims of sex trafficking. Multiple groups are working to provide awareness around the state. Many agencies and organizations are doing what they can to help victims, but they often lack needed resources. Task forces in several areas are working to arrest and prosecute traffickers and buyers. These groups have realized that it is imperative for all who serve victims and enforce the laws against human trafficking to work together.
Mississippians Against Human Trafficking has been formed to facilitate collaboration with regional task forces, law enforcement, victim service providers, state agencies, schools, houses of worship, medical professionals, and individuals who work with victims or potential victims, who are actively engaged in the fight against trafficking, or who are interested in learning how to prevent this crime and protect victims. Mississippians Against Human Trafficking will be a source of information, support, and resources for members of the coalition, victims, law enforcement, and individuals around the state. Our state will not be able to tackle this problem until we genuinely come together.