Feds issue sex trafficking warning ahead of auto show


DETROIT (WOOD) — The start of the well-attended North American International Auto Show is cruising closer, and it comes with a serious message from Homeland Security.

Federal officials want everyone to be aware of signs of human trafficking as they continue to make more arrests.

A multi-agency investigation uncovered an alarming human trafficking operation during the annual auto show in 2017. There were more than 15 teen and adult victims reportedly saved.

This year, Homeland Security shared the following information with the NBC affiliate in Detroit, WDIV, to help people spot human trafficking warning signs among your friends, family and peers:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
  • Does the person appear to have all their belongings in a plastic bag, easy to grab if forced to quickly move locations?
  • Is the juvenile using a false ID or lying about his or her age?
  • Does the person appear to not be familiar with his or her surroundings, e.g., not know their location?

Undercover agents made 22 arrests last year. Some were made at cheap motels and others happened fancy hotels.

Do not confront suspected traffickers or victims. Anyone who notices suspicious activity should contact Homeland Security Investigations at 1-866-347-2489 or ice.gov/tips.

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