Ohio patrol part of three-state fight against human trafficking
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is joining in a tri-state human trafficking initiative this week to raise awareness and combat the crime.
OSHP, the Indiana State Police and the MIchigan State Police are partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking.
Troopers stopped truck drivers on 71 north and south around the rest stops on Tuesday. Brian Alloy is in his 19th year as a trooper and said if it was one of his children, he would want people to do whatever they could to help.
"Just one young life is saved then it is well worth it," said Alloy.
Truck driver Mark Klink of New York said since they travel so much, they can get information out quickly if they see suspicious activities.
"I seen a young girl at the truck stop begging for money , who knows what she's doing? It's a terrible thing."
OSHP's Lt. Kelly Weakley said Ohio is a crossroads in the Midwest between major metropolitan cities of Chicago, Detroit, and New York.
"The traffickers focus on runaways, those children that have low self esteem, that are maybe hanging out in like malls or other sporting events," said Weakley. "This is modern day slavery."
According to the Ohio Attorney General's 2015 Human Trafficking report, law enforcement in Ohio reported 102 human trafficking investigations that led to 104 arrests. Additionally, 203 potential victims of human trafficking were identified. More are suspected.
Felicia Snell of Columbus said she is glad to hear troopers are working to find trafficking victims. Snell said she was lured by traffickers at age 13 and forced to have sex with truck drivers.
'When you put that fear in them and let them expose them, they will back off."
Snell said she was kept in a basement full of feces with dogs and forced to meet a quota. "I said (to the pimp) I got 20 dollars, he said well you better go out and do 20 more dollars worth because you don't meet your quota."
"I have been in a truck quite a few times. It's scary though because once you get in the back , you really don't know if you are going to get out alive or not because you are in the back. You just feed into their fantasy and you get more money, and you do some degrading things real degrading things," said Snell.
Truckers were given information about how to spot human trafficking and a phone number to call with tips. 1-888-373 7888 or text info or HELP to BeFree (233733).