A group of law enforcement officers, truckers and others teamed up Thursday to talk about human trafficking and efforts to stop it in North Carolina.
The state, with its college towns, military bases, agricultural land, Interstates 95 and 85 and 301 miles of ocean shoreline, consistently ranks high in human trafficking, according to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein.
Stein spent time Thursday with the N.C. Human Trafficking Commission, the N.C. Trucking Association and Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that educates drivers and truck stop employees about trafficking and signs to watch.
Human trafficking is an illicit industry that is estimated to be worth $32 billion in the United States alone and $150 billion globally, according to TheTrucker.Com, a news site for truckers.
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Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization training truckers to be “eyes and ears” for reporting suspicious activity, brought its Freedom Drivers Project to the N.C. National Guard Joint Force Headquarters on Thursday. The mobile exhibit, which debuted in 2014, includes stories of survivors and objects such as sandals, cellphones and other items that show some of what traffickers use to hold their victims against their wills.
Truckers, airline flight attendants and others have become part of a global effort to stop the traffickig of people.
On Thursday, Erik A. Hooks, secretary of the state Department of Public Safety, Robert Schurmeier, director of the State Bureau of Investigation, Glenn McNeill, commander of the state Highway Patrol, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, Rick Hoffman, a Raleigh police major, and Christine Shaw Long, director of Social Ministries at the Salvation Army of North Carolina, participated in a panel discussion about the topic.