Human trafficking in Lubbock: Voice of Hope identified 60 cases - FOX34 Lubbock

Human trafficking in Lubbock: Voice of Hope identified 60 cases last year

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

More than 500 cases of human trafficking were reported in Texas in 2019, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

It is one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, and it is happening in Lubbock.

"It's out here. All of our victims are American," Kenneth Castillo, with Voice of Hope - Rape Crisis Center, said. "This is not something where you think, where folks think these victims are coming in from Mexico, coming in from China, Thailand, no. This is an American grown problem."

Last year, Voice of Hope identified 60 new cases of human trafficking in Lubbock. That is up from the previous year.

One company in helping to fight the crime is United Supermarkets. It recently hosted a training session for its employees through "Truckers Against Trafficking." Cash Eagan, with Llano Logistics, United Supermarkets distribution center, said the purpose is to teach its drivers how to identify the signs of trafficking. 

Drivers who are part of this training will cover 5 million miles this year, going as far east as Dallas, and as far west as Albuquerque. He said that is the network where trafficking is most likely to take place. 

"Having the exposure to it, the knowledge, and our drivers out there in those areas, I think it's a great opportunity to make it a safer place," Eagan said.

OneVoiceHome is also tackling the issue. It uses donations to create a safe space for recovering survivors, who are often young women. It partnered with Open Door, Voice of Hope and a neighborhood Vera Bradley store to shelter survivors.

"When you see something say something, but also do something," Hillary Cobb, executive director of OneVoiceHome, said. "We want everyone to know that you don't all have to do the same thing but you can all do something, and so when you leave, just thinking about, what is that something that I can do, what do bring to the table to end trafficking?"

Gov. Abbot proclaimed January "Human Trafficking Prevention Month." At a TxDot Human Trafficking Awareness event, Texas' First Lady Cecilia Abbott said these victims are made to work through force and fraud for little to no pay.

"Human Traffickers hold women, men and children against their will, destroying their individuality. stripping away their dignity," she said.

Gov. Abbott encourages all Texas to learn more about the risks and signs of human trafficking and to do their part to help end these horrific crimes. 

Some warning signs at businesses include locked doors, rooms with bedding inside, and items that could be used for sexual acts.

For children, trafficking can look like changes in school attendance, demeanor and attitude, as well as suddenly having expensive things like handbags or designer clothes. 

For a list of more red flags, click here.

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