Keep an eye out for human trafficking

It’s been a busy week for the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

Two victims of sex trafficking were reunited with their families after calling 911 to report themselves as victims Wednesday.

The girls were 15 and 18.

They called from a Tuscaloosa hotel room, asking for help getting back home to another state.

The West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, along with multiple state police departments helped the girls get back home.

No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.

Just last week, the task force arrested 33-year-old Geremy Glass of Michigan and charged him with human trafficking after two hotel employees reported a suspicious situation at their business.

A teenage girl was safely recovered from that operation.

“Your bravery is just awesome,” West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force Commander Phil Simpson said. “The fact that you are willing to go out on a limb, possibly put your own safety at risk to try to save this young lady speaks volumes about you as a person. So, we are very thankful that you did that.”

Simpson said here are some common signs of human trafficking everyone we can look for.

“Some of the main things we tell people to look for is where you have someone who does not appear to be with the possible victim but is hovering in the background,” he said. “Sometimes they are the ones that rent the hotel rooms, or they will be very controlling of that individual. They won’t allow that individual to speak or present ID for anything. They take care of everything and isolate that person from others around him. in this instance also the victim had bruises and scratches. Also, her clothes were worn and dirty.”

Huey Harris is the general manager of the Sure Stay Hotel. His business sits right off Interstate 20/59, which is also known as a human sex trafficking superhighway.

“It’s just very sad to see it happening,” Harris said. “I am just glad Tuscaloosa is on the move and combating against it!”

Harris and his staff have taken classes taught by Tuscaloosa police to learn to identity common signs of human trafficking and receive guidance on what to do if they suspect something isn’t right.

“Human trafficking awareness is something that I am very passionate about and want my team to be aware of,” Harris said. “We just wanted to be aware of it and report it to the right authorities.”

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been nearly 700 victims of human trafficking identified in the state of Alabama alone over the last 15 years.

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