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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

Responding to New Tactics of Traffickers

Where do you expect to see a human trafficker—in a dangerous neighborhood? An impoverished city or country? Much of what you see on social media or what you learned as a child is probably misleading you. Trafficking doesn’t look like a stranger picking children up in a white van anymore. It isn’t happening far away.

Traffickers are showing up in schools, in places where they can prey on the disabilities and vulnerabilities of people. They are preying on children on gaming apps and girls on instant messaging apps. They are making sophisticated flyers offering promising jobs in other countries. They offer what appears to be legitimate opportunities that entrap people before they know what is happening.

According to U.S. Homeland Security, trafficking is a-$150 billion per year scheme worldwide. Traffickers stand to make a lot of money and they are coming up with new tactics to target the vulnerable. In Romania, traffickers are typically working as part of an organized crime group network with sophisticated methods to exploit Romanian women and children (according to the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report). 

We must stay alert and aware of these ever-evolving tactics! 

In Romania, we are learning new tactics because of our expanding network of Freedom Highway members across the country. Our growing number of video monitors showing our anti-trafficking messages in strategic locations educating the public on trafficking means more people are growing in their awareness. These people’s eyes are being opened and they are calling us to report what they are seeing. This means we are heading off these schemes proactively! 

Here are a few examples just in the past few weeks:

Traffickers Targeting Disabled Individuals

Two of our team members were recently called to assist in an emergency at a center in Romania that cares for physically disabled adults. 

They shared with us that traffickers had been making visits to their facility to promise patients a better life. They made fake promises of providing housing and care for them or a job opportunity in another country. 

The cruel reality was that when these traffickers got the patients to the other country, they were used for begging and as sex slaves.

Our team worked with the facility to train staff and residents to be on the lookout for these dangerous people. Our team also helped the facility put safety measures in place to track who was coming into their facility and to only allow registered visitors inside to speak with the patients. 

Because of the education we’ve been able to give to communities in Romania, people like the staff at this faculty are becoming aware that their patients are at risk. This awareness means we can bring in more education on prevention and more people can be protected! Can you imagine what could happen to these vulnerable people if they didn’t know how to protect themselves? 

Traffickers Using Drugs to Target School-Age Children

Our staff visited a school recently in a Romanian community and were shocked to hear that traffickers are targeting the students in their schools. We learned traffickers are going to the schools and using new schemes to entrap the students, including trying to hook students on drugs. 

One student told us about an elderly lady who handed out drugs to the students. First, she gives it to them for free. Then, she charges a small amount of money the next time. As they become addicted, she increases the price, and then traffickers can come in and make an offer. They tell the students they can give them a lifetime supply of the drug they’ve gotten hooked on. 

This has been a tactic in the U.S. for a long time, and now traffickers in Romania are catching on and adopting new ways to lure students away from their families and communities into a life of bondage. 

Luckily, we are in the process of training volunteers so they can bring awareness of these horrors to students, teachers, and families. We’re using a “train the trainer” model. We can train teachers and volunteers who can go into more communities and schools than our team can alone. We’re busy training a large number of new volunteers to educate communities like this one! 

We share these stories with you for a few reasons.

We want YOU to be aware. Traffickers are targeting children in our communities and you must stay alert! 

We also need help spreading the word so others stay free. Share these tips and stories with others so we can continue building a Freedom Highway around the world that stays aware and fights trafficking. 

Finally, you can help others find freedom. When you donate to Uncaged, you help us visit more schools and train more community members. You put monitors in more strategic locations. You protect more vulnerable people around Romania! 

Will you unlock the cage with your gift today?

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