TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Human trafficking is a $90 billion worldwide industry. It may be a topic of taboo but it happens even here in Idaho.
KMVT’s Morgan Rumpf has been investigating the connection to Idaho.
Idaho is a rural state that at times is easy to pass through undetected. For this reason it's a hub for human trafficking.
"We don't have exact numbers because human trafficking is an issue that no matter where you are it's very difficult to get accurate numbers but we do know it's happening from the specific cases. We want to make that just widespread knowledge," said President of the Idaho Coalition for Justice Kim Peake.
A joint training effort was hosted by the Idaho Coalition for Justice and the Anti-Trafficking Coalition at the College of Southern Idaho to bring organizations, agencies, and individuals together to raise awareness, assist survivors and advocate for legislation.
Signs of human trafficking are difficult to identify. When our reporter asked students around the CSI campus if they would be able to identify someone who may need help, or what a victim may look like, they all said no.
"No, honestly I would have absolutely no clue," said Tanner Brooks.
"I guess just panicky, looking scared, other than that I can't think of any warning signs I've been taught or anything like that," said Emme Poe.
"It's not really something you would look for, first of all, then they would probably hide it pretty well," said Alyson Stansell.
"I mean I've lived in Idaho my whole life, the people I've met and the things I've seen, I wouldn't take it for a place you'd see a lot of human trafficking,” Brooks said.
Peake said a basic sign someone may be a trafficking victim is if they are confused. For example if you are in an elevator with someone and you ask them what brought them to a place and they didn't know they were even in that city, or can't tell you where they came from or why they are there it could be a red flag. If someone can not speak for themselves and another person is answering questions for them they could be in a dangerous situation. However, if someone is displaying these symptoms they may not be a victim of human trafficking.
There are two types of human trafficking, both sexual and labor. Labor trafficking victims will often not be carrying their own paperwork and will seem out of place and confused.
There are the cliche stores, such as massage parlors that are fronts for undercover operations, but it's not as simple as looking for this sign. But there are signs that get posted that could lead to trouble. When there are signs claiming high pay and just a phone number to call with no further information, Peake says a great way to vet a situation is to use the rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
This story is part of a further in-depth investigation KMVT is actively working on. If you believe you have a narrative that would help further tell the story please reach out to our news team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best way to learn more about sex trafficking is to get educated. It's a lot of information and can feel overwhelming but websites such as Polaris which is a charitable organization that provides trafficking data. If you are concerned for the safety of someone you can also call local authories and ask for a welfare check or call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.