Human Trafficking: Every Community’s Problem

Students and faculty learn about sex trafficking prevention, red flags and precautions

By Sydney Faison
On February 8, 2019

Photo by Axel Marcenaro: Larinda Smith speaks on a forced labor case of human trafficking involving disabled men at a turkey factory. Smith also covered the importance of understanding what human trafficking really is and when lines are crossed.


ASU presented a human trafficking prevention seminar on Feb. 1 in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center.
The Norris-Vincent College of Business, Fostering Ram Success Program, the Rotary Clubs of San Angelo and the Concho Valley Workforce Development Board co-sponsored the presentation.
Kirsta Melton, criminal chief of the Texas Attorney General’s office’s human trafficking and transnational organized crime unit, spoke at the event. Melton has trained more than 15,000 people about human trafficking.
 “Modern day slavery is alive and well in this country,” Melton said. “It strikes at the heart of our most vulnerable population.”
Melton said that traffickers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be a corporation or an individual.
Since 2011, Texas divides trafficking into four categories: adult labor, adult sex, child labor and child sex.
Traffickers will use methods to lure potential victims. These methods include, but are not limited to: manipulation, flattery, establishing family structure, promises of a better life and exploitation of weaknesses.
Red flags for sex trafficking include: bruising, overtly sexual online profiles, rolls of money, branding and tattoos, prepaid visa cards and inconsistent stories.
Melton gave an example of a trafficker named Candy who would put tattoos of candy canes on his trafficking victims.
If anyone suspects human trafficking, they should call 911 and an officer will assess the situation, Melton said. They should not personally intervene with a suspected trafficker.
James Adams, ASU chief of police, said there is a behavioral intervention team designed to target students who are at risk and provided them with resources. Reports can be submitted online.
“We are doing our best to educate students about online predators,” Adams said. “Here at ASU, we are trying to foster an environment where people are comfortable to report things.”
The next workshop, “Human Trafficking 101: Join the Fight,” will be held on Wednesday, March 27 in the Speakeasy Room of the Cactus Hotel.


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