Savannah State holds annual conference to combat human trafficking

Savannah State holds annual conference to combat human trafficking

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Hundreds of professionals were on Savannah State’s campus this Saturday for Savannah Interagency Diversity Council’s 5th annual Traffick Jam.

It was an opportunity for them to learn about human trafficking. That council says this specific crime is on the rise here in Georgia.

“Georgia is state number 5 in the country for human trafficking obviously in the cities and number 14 is Atlanta,” said Jose Gonzales, president of SWAHT.

SWAHT stands for Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking. Gonzales is just one of the hundreds of professionals working to put an end to an epidemic that is not only a problem statewide, but nationwide and internationally as well.

“Human trafficking can happen to anyone," Gonzales says. "It could be someone that’s affluent it could be someone that’s educated force for coercion can come in different ways, people say well it only happens to people that don’t know people it happens within family members.”

The 5th annual traffick jam held on Savannah State’s campus was an opportunity for multiple agencies and professionals to come together to bring awareness to the issue and also get the tools necessary to help put an end to it.

“In Georgia 12,400 men purchased sex with young women at any given month, approximately 100 adolescent females are sexually exploited each night in Georgia, adolescent females controlled by sex trafficking trade are sexually exploited by an adult male on an average of 3three times per night,” said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap.

Heap, along with many other local officials, says any city and any state can become susceptible to human trafficking.

Savannah’s status as a popular tourist destination means there are thousands of people in and out.

“We’re in a very vulnerable with that 95 corridor, a large port, that’s 16 going to Atlanta so there are a lot of things we have big festivals here we have St. Patrick’s Day which brings in an influx of people so we’re in a spot that really tailors to people trying to do that here,” said Gonzales.

Police Chief Roy Minter says communication is a big part of keeping the problem out of our communities.

“We’re already working with our business community, we’re already working with our officers, if you look inside you will see several members of the Savannah Police Department are here," said Chief Minter. "We’ve got several supervisors including the captain and the assistant chief are here so that shows you how serious we are and I mean I’m even here at the chief of police.”

He says though it won’t happen overnight, it’s going to take everyone doing their part and being vigilant.

Organizers say this is the largest educational forum about human trafficking in the southeast.

The next traffick jam will be January 31st 2021.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.