United Way of SWLA holds workshop to help spot human trafficking

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Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 9:05 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It may seem as though human trafficking is not a part of our everyday lives. But for more than 40 million people it’s a reality they are forced to live through daily.

“From 14 until 17 years old is what you would call the grooming stages. So he used this period to build a very deep and trusting relationship,” explained Urmmra Hang.

Hang is one victim describing her experiences at a workshop put on by United Way of Southwest Louisiana. It’s part of an effort to bring awareness to trafficking especially in our area.

“The I-10 corridor is a breeding ground, the casinos, they are a blessing financially, they are great but those predators that’s where they hang out,” says Laurie Martin. “And the casinos are great members of these task forces.”

Back in January, Partners in Children Safety of Lake Charles trained front-line casinos employees on how to spot the signs

But law enforcement is now noticing increased efforts to entrap victims on the deep web during the pandemic.

“It almost made it easier for the predators to reach the victims,” says Martin.

Other predators use drugs and alcohol to entice.

“Pushed me into work, sometimes in the agricultural field and other times in fish canneries. At night, he would solicit cash from other workers to have sex with me and arrange for me to sell drugs for him,” recalled another victim Cari Herthel.

While trafficking may never be completely eradicated, organizers say it’s important to have these victims in lines of leadership and command to save the ones they can.

“They are able to educate people like you and I and other folks in our community on what they went through and also how to identify it,” says Martin. “Because it could be your neighbor. We’ve always said if you can help one, you’ve done a great job.”

If you spot any suspicious activity or need to report a personal incident, you can call local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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