Local organizations fight to end human trafficking

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local organizations in Savannah are banding together to teach people how they can join the fight to end human trafficking.

Speakers at the “Savannah Traffick Jam” said “recognition” and “response” are two actions that can save lives. The fifth annual event hosted a variety of speakers to help create awareness and prevention in local communities.

Jose Gonzales, the president of Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking, said traffickers often go unnoticed because they can be hard to detect.

“I think part of it is, you know, we don’t know what we are looking at many times, and the other thing is I think we are groomed as young people, ‘stick to your own business, don’t stare.’ We are brought up to think the best of everybody but unfortunately that’s not the case with a lot of folks,” Gonzales said.

Authorities say the Super Bowl and other large events are “hot spots” for human trafficking. At last year’s big game, the FBI arrested more than 150 people on trafficking-related crimes.

The Savannah Interagency Diversity Council’s Chairman, William Gettis, who is also an ATF Investigator, said people can help victims by paying attention to their discreet warning signs.

“You know it could be as small as a wink, or a leg move or a head move. We have heard of situations where people have winked their eyes and if you see something, say something, you know, don’t be silent. Don’t be quiet. The smallest gesture could be from someone who could be trafficked,” Gettis said.

Gonzales said people across the country are “all in the same fight,” but noted that many people do not know how to properly respond if they do see something.

“Please do not approach the victim, nor approach the trafficker. These are big money people and they count on those victims for their money and they can be dangerous both to the victim as well as to the person trying to rescue them,” Gonzales stated.

Gettis said they plan to continue hosting the “Savannah Traffick Jam” with the hope that more people will attend so they can actively join the fight.

“It’s important to host an event like this to let people know that it could be a small sign to give you a clue of what to look for, also for them to get information to know who to call, who to contact in case they do see suspicious activity,” Gettis said.

To get help or to find more information, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or you can text “help” or “info” to BeFree (233733).

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