What to look for as human traffickers adapt during pandemic

Local organization brings light to ongoing issue of human trafficking

What to look for as human traffickers adapt during pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The pandemic has emptied out once crowded streets, slowing down businesses and people.

As many adapt to the new normal, it seems even the worst parts of our society are finding new ways to survive too.

“Crime doesn’t take a break, it finds another way. And that’s what’s happening with human trafficking.”

Jose Gonzales with Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking, says the pandemic has forced the traffickers to change where they do their business.

For example, in the past they may have kept a victim at a hotel but now they’re sticking to private residences.

Even though there are less children out in public, with many schools offering a virtual option it may open them up to other dangers if they aren’t careful

“Just as in the past they search the internet, well, now they have more people on the internet to search for,” said Gonzales.

But just as human traffickers aren’t stopping, neither are those fighting against it.

In fact, it seems more people are taking to social media to help raise awareness,

However, Gonzales says unfortunately that hasn't translated to more people actually supporting organizations like SWAHT.

“We definitely appreciate that a lot of people like to talk about human trafficking and voice their support but, actually getting behind it is the key.”

Gonzales saying they are down on both volunteers and donations which could hamper their fight against human trafficking.

A fight that may be changing but you can still be apart of on a daily basis.

“There are still things you can look for. The signs are still the same. You may see less of them but you’re still going to see the same signs,” says Gonzales.

He says to look for people who appear to be fearful, or are being controlled, not allowed to talk for themselves. Look for odd bruising, wearing clothing that doesn’t fit or isn’t weather appropriate.

Small things that may go a long way in saving someone's life.

“The reality is we can all be aware of it but beyond being aware of it and understanding it we need to take the step and report it,” Gonzales said.

To report possible human trafficking Gonzales says you can 911 or call the national hotline at 888-373-7888

For more information on how you can donate or volunteer with SWAHT click here.

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