The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country. In the United States alone, nearly 300,000 children are trafficked for sex every year. Children without a safe, secure home are much more at risk for trafficking, but that doesn’t mean any child couldn’t be conscripted.
The average age of girls forced into the sex trade is between the ages of 12-14. It’s estimated that fewer than 2% are ever rescued or leave “the life.”
Our best weapon against this global $32 billion per year criminal industry is public awareness. Help us bring the criminal element to justice. Learn the warning signs and resources available to help.
Can YOU recognize the warning signs of human trafficking?
Human trafficking victims are usually hidden in plain sight in locations you’d never think of.
Possible indicators include:
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Inability to speak to individual alone
- Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Under 18 and in prostitution
In 2012, Adrian was rescued in another state and sent to a safe house in Montana.
Adrian was adopted into an alcoholic, drug abusing family. At age five, she was raped by her adopted father and eventually by her adopted brother as well. She was sold by her family and forced to have an abortion at age 11. At 12, she was gang raped by her “father’s” friends in her own home. She remembers eating out of trash cans often while growing up. After Adrian’s adoptive mother and father died, her brother sold her until she was 14, at which time he sold her to a pimp. She was able to escape at 15 and lived wherever she could. At 17, Adrian was running for her life again.
Rick and Patty, who run Traffick Refuge, a Montana safe house, said, “Adrian sought refuge with a woman who called a trafficking foundation on her behalf. She was sent to our safe home in December 2012. She was our Christmas present. Since then she has quit smoking, drinking, and using drugs. She testified before the Montana Legislature for the anti-trafficking bills that were passed in 2013. She has spoken at public symposiums and youth groups, as well as to Montana’s media.”
Adrian will be taking her driving test soon. She has also been working toward earning her GED. She plans to continue her education in child development and hopes to work with disabled children. Rick and Patty add, “Adrian has been in counseling and encourages new girls at our safe home. She is well loved by all who meet her and has much love to share. She is considered family by our children and grandchildren, and has asked to take our name. Adrian is a delightful, brave, strong young woman with a childlike heart.”
Labor trafficking is another form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor.
Victims of trafficking may be found in any industry with a demand for cheap labor and a lack monitoring:
- Agriculture and farms
- Domestic work
- Hostess and strip clubs
- Restaurants and food service industry
- Peddling and begging rings
- Hospitality industry
Victims of labor trafficking include men, women, families, or children as young as five years old who harvest crops and raise animals in fields, packing plants, orchards, and nurseries. Victims of this form of trafficking include U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and foreign nationals with temporary work visas. Agricultural work is often isolated and transient, and income can be irregular. Workers often see peeks and lulls in employment due to changing harvest seasons, and may travel throughout the country to find work. Unscrupulous crew leaders exploit these conditions of vulnerability, adding debt, violence and threats to hold farmworkers in conditions of servitude.
If your business or organization would like to help us fight human trafficking, contact our office at (406) 444-2026.
If your organization or civic group would like a presentation about human trafficking, contact our office at (406) 444-2026 or email us at: [email protected]
The Children’s Justice Bureau
Department of Homeland Security: The Blue Campaign
Shared Hope International
Traffick Refuge: A Montana Safe House
Watson Children’s Shelter
Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution
Truckers Against Trafficking