Michigan State Police working to help fight human trafficking

LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - State police are working to crackdown on an often hidden and silent crime but one that is on the rise, human trafficking.

Michigan State Police are calling on truckers and setting up shop at rest areas to help get the word out and it’s all part of January being National Human Trafficking Month in the U.S.

A trucker for some time, Jim Switzer knows the reality of human trafficking.

“It is wrong and I thank the lord that police are making us aware and that they're doing something about it,” said Switzer.

Although he's never been approached, Switzer says it's something he looks out for.

“I have children myself and I don't want them out there doing anything like that or hear of anything like that,” said Switzer. “That's horrible, just horrible.”

State police this week have teamed up with "Truckers Against Trafficking" along with Ohio and Indiana State Police to help raise awareness about the crime.

It's all about staying alert in common public places.

“Rest areas, truck stops, and hotels are used frequently through online sources for trafficking a person, they'll set up an operation at a hotel,” said Lt. Susan Fries from the Michigan State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division.

It's those places Michigan State Police are talking to truckers about what to look for and who to call if the suspect something is wrong.

“Some truckers think that usually young women and sometimes young men are there doing something that they choose to do as a living but usually in most cases they’re forced to be there,” said Fries.

The problem isn’t going away overnight, but it's the eyes and ears of the pubic which could save a child's life.

“There’s no harm at all in making the call and having it turn out to be nothing,” said Fries. “It would be better to make the call and potentially save one or several people from that lifestyle,” said Fries.

Statistics estimate 100,000 to 300,000 young people are being trafficked in the United States alone.

Click here to learn more about human trafficking in Michigan.